If only Consumer Reports had website builder reviews and tested popular website designers in your area, right? We checked. They don’t. However, we did find reviews on investment companies and mobile security software. But you’re shopping for a website. We’d like to help you comparison shop.
In a hurry? Jump to the Recap.
We could subjectively go over the reasons we have decided to build WordPress websites on the Genesis Framework, but that would leave you comparing apples to oranges and wading through a mess of web development jargon. So, we made a short list of the criteria that helped us choose what kind of solution to offer our website clients, and we hope the list will hopefully help you evaluate your website options as well.
Criterion #1: Security
Look for a well-established and widely adopted website platform. Some may shy away from popular web platforms like WordPress because they believe the popularity puts a target on their backs, but popular solutions are generally better supported by developers and receive more regular security updates than lesser known alternatives. Ensure your website and its components are kept up-to-date. We include this service as a part of our maintenance and hosting package. What’s another easy way to check for a secure website? Be sure your website runs on https and not http. You’ll be able to see it in your browser’s address bar. A good, strong password and usernames that aren’t as obvious as “admin” is another best practice.
Criterion #2: Integrations
Not all websites play well with others. For example, realtors who want to enable visitors to search for properties on their own website will require the use of an IDX service. Commercial service companies might want to integrate their CRM (Client Relationship Management) software. Physicians may want to integrate a third-party patient portal. Make sure the type of website you choose is fully supported by the tools you want to use.
While WordPress is nearly universally supported with plugins for integrating other software, websites built on WordPress using drag-and-drop tools are particularly prone to conflicts that might not appear until you install an update. Keeping up with the latest updates is essential for security, so ask what tools are being used to create your website and determine who will keep all elements of your website up-to-date.
Criterion #3: User-Friendly Navigation
In a previous post on website must-haves we named responsive design among the top five must-have features, and it is essential for user-friendly navigation as well. Website visitors now use phones and tablets instead of just desktop computers. Test your navigation menus on a variety of screen sizes and browsers to verify that the menu works as intended.
User-friendliness can also be affected by content-related decisions. The fewer the options and required clicks, the more effective your navigation menu. If your website designer doesn’t plan your website’s navigation specifically for your goals, like we do, you will need to do the legwork and think about how to get your audience to the information they need as efficiently as possible. Create personas that reference your ideal client. Anticipate the intent of your visitors and stay true to your primary CTA (Call to Action), which is the action you want your visitors to take, such as filling out a lead generation form or signing up for a newsletter.
Criterion #4: Great UX (User Experience) on Any Device Type
Responsive design also paves the way for cross-device compatibility, or making sure your website works smoothly on desktops, tablets and smartphones. However, simply using a responsive layout is not enough for a great UX (User Experience) across the board. A skilled website designer will ensure that all of the elements of your website work on any device and will avoid less compatible code or technologies, such as Adobe Flash.
Check to see how fast your website loads on slower connections. Large images and full-screen video look cool, but not paying attention to file size will slow your website for both human and search engine robot traffic and, consequently, will contribute to a lower rank on the search engines. Images need to be compressed, and video needs to be limited to certain areas of your website.
Criterion #5: Longevity
A beautiful, well-designed website that is outdated in a few months does not provide a good ROI (Return on Investment). Both the content on the page and the website code itself can become outdated. Left untended, your website can even pose a security risk. Determine who will be responsible for installing updates and adding new content. Not all web developers offer ongoing maintenance packages or webmaster service like we do. If you choose a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, it will be easier for individuals who aren’t website code experts to add new content on a regular basis. Furthermore, developers can often add or remove features and change the design of your site without having to start from scratch (unless a drag-and-drop builder theme was used) because the content on each page is stored separately from other code.
Recap: Our Website Criteria
- Security: Look for a popular platform that runs on https and pick an unexpected username with a strong password.
- Integrations: Ensure that the type of website you choose is compatible with any other software you’d like to use with it.
- User-Friendly Navigation: Be purposeful with your navigation menus and make sure they work as intended on different browsers and screen sizes.
- Great UX: Create a great UX (User Experience) on any device by favoring quick load times and avoiding less compatible elements, such as Adobe Flash.
- Longevity: For longevity, choose a CMS (Content Management System) website platform that doesn’t use a drag-and-drop builder theme in order to make updates to the code, content, features and design as simple as possible.
We routinely help businesses maximize their ROI on the web. If you’re in Cypress, or the Houston area, and are trying to evaluate website quotes, feel free to give us a call at (281) 798-2406 or complete our Contact Form. We’ll get you a second or third opinion as well as a quote for your project if it looks like it might be a good fit for Engine Communication.