Nothing gets me riled up more than a digital marketing partner (agency, consultant, or otherwise) that takes advantage of their clients. When you hire an agency or consultant you should be able to trust that 1. They know what they’re doing because this is their job and 2. That they have your best interest at heart. Sadly, sometimes this is not the case.
I want to help you sift through these companies and find the best digital marketing partner for you.
To start – let’s talk about website redesigns.
Do you know what should be included in a website redesign? What needs to be in the scope of work? What the red flags of a website redesign company are?
Here I’m going to outline the must-haves in a website redesign scope of work and why. If these items are NOT included in your scope, for whatever reason, keep searching. You can find a better website design agency.
Website Design Scope Must-Haves
1. ADA website compliance.
Your website must meet very specific accessibility requirements as designated by the ADA.
What is ADA website compliance?
Anyone and everyone, no matter their challenges, must be able to read or listen to the content on your website without issue.
How do you know if your website isn’t ADA compliant?
Well, if you’re like me, you found out because you received not one, but 10 formal complaints from law firms across the country regarding your company’s website (former company, a number of years ago, in this case). But, if you haven’t received that letter yet, there are a few things you can do.
- Start by reading this article from Search Engine Journal about the laws surrounding ADA website compliance.
- Run your website through an accessibility checker. There are a number of them around, but here are two you can use right now: WebAIM and Tenon.io.
- Use the reports from these website accessibility checkers as a starting point to update your website and ensure these items are covered in your website design scope of work.
Take website ADA compliance seriously and make sure your website design partner takes this seriously as well. Otherwise, you could end up like me with a very unhappy corporate lawyer in your office.
2. SEO implementation.
Ensure in your scope of work that your partner has included hours for technical and content SEO optimization. In this case, technical SEO is far more important.
Which aspects of technical search engine optimization should be included?
There are a few technical SEO aspects I consider imperative:
- Ensure your website is secure and utilizes https NOT http. This is not optional.
- Any relevant schema. Visit schema.org to understand your options.
- Optimized urls and url structure. Read this guide from Search Engine Journal, The Ultimate Guide for an SEO-Friendly URL Structure, for more context.
- Site load speed. Moz has a great resource on page speed and how it affects your SEO.
- URL redirects. This should be a part of your migration plan as well (see #6 below).
- Creation and submission of sitemap and robot file.
3. Post-launch development hours.
After you launch or relaunch your website there will be bugs. No matter how great the developers are – bugs are inevitable. This is completely normal and OK. But, because of this, you need to account for post-launch support in your scope of work.
If post-launch development hours are not accounted for, ask for them to be included. One of the worst things you could do is launch a new website and then not have a developer on hand to fix things.
How many hours of post-launch support do you need?
There isn’t a set number of post-launch hours you need. It’s completely dependent on the size and complexity of your website. I would error on the side of having a few more hours built in than you think you actually need.
4. CMS training and documentation.
Is your team or yourself managing website content updates? If yes, ensure your website partner has included CMS training and documentation in their scope of work.
Your CMS training is where you get to learn as much as you can about the backend of your website from the experts. Use this time wisely, make sure you completely understand how to implement the important pieces of content, and ask a lot of questions.
In addition, your CMS documentation should include a how-to guide on updating all of your primary templates and modules. Scour the documentation your partner provides and make sure it includes everything you think you’ll ever need to update. Often, your CMS training comes a month or two before you or your team actually have to make any updates yourselves. You’re not going to remember how to do everything – but that’s why you get a detailed training guide for reference.
5. Analytics and tracking implementation.
There are two parts to this: 1. Implementation and set up of Google Analytics and 2. Implementation of tracking codes and pixels.
In your scope of work your partner should have hours outlined for implementing tracking and setting up your Google Analytics to ensure you’re tracking everything correctly.
Orbit Media has a great guide on what you should be tracking in Google Analytics and how to do it yourself, How to Set Up Google Analytics: The Complete Guide.
6. Clear website migration plan.
What is a website migration plan?
A migration plan outlines how everything from your current website is going to map to your new website. This includes:
- Benchmarking current website analytics, especially organic and referral traffic.
- Mapping all url redirects if you’re moving to a new url structure or removing pages.
- Canonicalizing all urls.
- Ensuring you have proper 404 errors in place and a 404 error page.
- Creating and submitting a new sitemap to all search engines.
- Moving all tracking codes and pixels from the current site to the new site.
7. Sitemap and wireframes.
Your web design partner should create and review a sitemap and wireframes with you.
A sitemap outlines all of the pages on your site and how they’re organized. The wireframes show the user experience of each page on your site.
Ensure you see wireframes for every major page of your site and not just a few select pages. It’s important for you and your design partner to agree on the user experience of each page before the actual designing begins.
OK – this was a lot of information. But, I promise if you ensure these seven things are in your website design scope of work your website design will go more smoothly than it could have. And, if a website design company doesn’t include these items, just don’t use them. Trust me – you can find a better partner.
If you have any questions about these items or what else to expect in the website design process, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help.