four questions for a B2B web site developer
It can be a daunting task to hire someone to design and build your B2B website. Not only do you need to find a company whose design aesthetic matches your needs for your B2B website design, but you also need to think about the development skills they bring with them. Not all web development companies are created equal.
Pay attention to the specialization unless you are working with a very large agency. For example, Bop Design is a WordPress web design shop. If you want a website built in Drupal, SiteCore, or Umbraco, we’re not a good fit. In fact, we’re not going to build websites in anything other than WordPress – but not all agencies are going to turn down the work.
If you know a site needs to be built in a particular CMS, ask the agency for examples of previous sites built with that CMS. If they can only give you an example or two, proceed with caution. It is certainly possible to learn a new CMS and even build a nice, working site, but there is still a risk. At Bop, we have over a decade of WordPress experience. We saw a lot of weird things and unusual implementations. That said, we are better equipped to resolve any issues you may encounter.
Assuming your new B2B website is using WordPress as its CMS, you need to ask some questions about how the company is handling the back end. Are they using a page builder, Gutenberg editor, or something else? Can they log into other websites they create so you can get a feel for how easy it is to edit? If you dig into the examples you see, ask the development company about their philosophy for setting up the WordPress administrator.
Here at Bop, we don’t normally use page builders. While page builders are fantastic tools to quickly build a great looking website, they can be a challenge for B2B marketers to keep updating. They offer a lot of flexibility, but that can also mean you have a lot of decisions to make when creating a new page. Maybe that’s exactly what you want, or maybe you want something a little more rigid.
It’s a good idea to speak to your B2B website development company about the possibilities and make sure the website they create meets your needs now and for ongoing updates.
Page speed optimization
Google is increasingly focusing on page speed as a factor in search rankings. How does the development company you are evaluating deal with it? There’s a lot that goes into optimizing page speed – it really never gets the job done. This is where it can get tricky for marketers because it’s very technical. You may not understand words like minimize or first color of content, but it is helpful to have at least a list of your development company’s results.
One thing I always say to marketers is to be aware that a score of 100 on Google PageSpeed Insights is not necessarily achievable, especially on mobile. Even if you can get such a high score, the incremental work may not be worth the incremental improvement.
Hosting is a critical element of any B2B website. While this is rarer than it used to be, be careful with any agency that hosts your website itself. If you ever decide to work with another agency, getting access to your website can be difficult (and expensive).
Does the agency have any hosting recommendations? Note that many hosting companies encourage agencies to work with them. Both of the hosting companies recommended by Bop, Pantheon and WP Engine, have affiliate programs. Pantheon offers agencies working with them enhanced support, discounts and account managers. WP Engine offers agency fees when their clients sign up for an account. At Bop, we prefer to stay as neutral as possible with our hosting recommendations. While we take advantage of the extended support that Pantheon offers (and our customers get access at preferential rates), we do not accept referral fees from WP Engine. This ensures that our customers get the best hosting provider that suits their needs.