What to Look for When Outsourcing Your Company's Web Development Services

  • By Frank DePalma
  • 15 Dec, 2015

Have you thought about expanding your reach and servicing more of your clients’ needs?  Establishing a relationship with an experienced IT firm might be the smartest business move you make this year. Here are five things to look for when searching for your new IT team:

  1. Customer Support
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Appropriate Staffing
  4. References
  5. Transparency

1) Customer support
Make sure the IT team has the best interest of your customer in mind with every decision. If your customers are used to getting quick phone response from you, but you get a slow email response from your provider, it could make your customer lose confidence in your ability.

First you need to decide how your relationship with your customer and IT provider will work:

  • Will they be contacting the customer on your behalf? Or will you be the only point of contact.
  • Sign a non-compete agreement and work out the details of how any future sales will go. For example if your customer contacts the IT company directly to perform services, we provide 25% commission for 12 months.

2) Communication skills
We  are  in the communications business. Choose an IT team that can help you understand the technology that you are providing to your clients.

  • Are they able to clearly explain the technology? Is it scalable? Secure?
  • Are they able to provide valuable suggestions for new technology.
  • Are they able to explain the technology without sounding conceited or making the client feel stupid?

3) Appropriate company size
When searching for an IT team that is the best fit for your needs, ask yourself, “What size should my IT team be?” Will you need backup staff with 24/7/365 support, or will a one-person shop be enough?

  • An IT firm that is too large for you may not provide the level of customer service that you need. Imagine your customer calling because they need a change and your IT service provider not getting back to you for three days. That reflects poorly on your business.
  • A firm that is too small might not be able to manage your project effectively. While forming a relationship with a single programmer can be beneficial, you have to keep in mind what that individual will be doing in 2 years? Will they take a job with a larger firm? Will they still be available when their work needs to be updated?

Decide what staffing your IT team should have:

  • Will you need a dedicated project manager to keep the project on schedule?
  • Is it easy to get in touch with the CEO if your project manager is not responsive?
  • Will you need a backup programmer, or project manager to keep you covered when IT staff are on vacation or sick?
  • Can they grow with your team to keep pace with you and your client as your success grows?

Dependability
We all are human and humans make mistakes – will they make it right? Don’t be afraid to ask, “So what happens if this thing fails?” When I was just starting out, I remember the first time a customer asked me, so what happens to our website if you die?” I wasn’t prepared for that, but I have since put a contingency plan in place to make sure the world keeps turning long after I am gone.

Project management
Does the IT team have a good process for managing projects. Some projects last several months and have many revisions. Make sure your IT team has proven methods for tracking progress, storing important files, passwords and data, for keeping the project moving in a positive direction. Someone has to manage the project.

4) Check references
Of course you wont get references from them from unsatisfied customers and, even if you do, people aren’t likely to dis their web provider, so be sure to ask specific questions:

  • How long have you been working together?
  • What is your strongest attribute? Let this answer come and keep digging until you get to the positive compared to the negative attributes.
  • What kind of work have you done?

4) The truth will set you free.
Maintain transparency with your customers. My company has provided web programming services for a variety of design firms. Although direct contact between the programmer and the customer isn’t always imperative, good communication is. If there are too many steps in the communication process, then there are more likely to be errors. I recommend introducing everyone involved at the beginning of the project via phone, email or chat. Then appoint one point of contact on each team. It’s okay that your customers know that you are not the geeks behind the website. The reason they work with you is because of your style, skill, or whatever reason makes it a good fit. They will most likely be relieved to not have another company they have to deal with and that you will be there to make sure their brand and message are consistent across all marketing channels. So, build on your existing relationship and create more work.

This article first appeared in  the  August issue of  Media Inc .

Tera-Bytes

By Frank DePalma 02 Jun, 2016

Totera provides total ecommerce services from design, to custom database programming to social media marketing and everything in between - we are with you every step of the way. Totera can provide ongoing maintenance and support to keep your online store optimized, or simply get things started and let you run with it.

As a Volusion Design Firm, Totera has the staff and expertise to get your store done on time and on budget. Here are some common support tips and tricks that we have found helpful when setting up a Volusion ecommerce website.

By Frank DePalma 25 Mar, 2016

Your website is one of the most important investments that your company or organization will ever make. Establishing an ongoing relationship with an experienced web developer will help ensure that you get the most out of your investment.

But what should you look for when hiring a web services firm?

1) Appropriate company size

When searching for an IT team that is the best fit for your needs, ask yourself, “What size should my IT team be?” Does your website you have mission-critical systems that require a team at the ready 24/7/365, or will a one-person shop be a better fit?

A web services firm that is too large for you may not provide the level of personalized service that you need. Are they flexible enough to change as your needs change?

A firm that is too small might not be able to manage your project effectively. While forming a relationship with a single person can be beneficial, you have to keep in mind what that individual will be doing in 2 years? Will they still be available when their work needs to be updated?

2) Customer Service Protocol

At Totera our priority is for our clients to have a positive, even fun experience. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure your web services provider is able to meet your support needs. Do they respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner? When someone calls the Totera support line, several members of our team automatically receive text messages and emails. We have protocols in place to ensure that the right person responds in a timely manner.

3) Project Management Systems

Does the web services provider have a good process for managing projects. Some projects last several months and have many revisions. Make sure your web services provider has proven methods for tracking progress, storing important files, passwords and data, for keeping the project moving in a positive direction. Someone has to manage the project.

4) Dependability

Make sure you hire someone you can trust because the more you are able to share with them, the better the results. Treat your web services provider like a business partner. Are you planning on selling the business? Are you going to be introducing a new product or service? Your web services provider can make sure your website supports your next move.

5) Curiosity

Your web services provider should have a thirst for knowledge so they can recommend ways to keep your website relevant in the ever-changing internet landscape.

At Totera we are constantly thinking of ways to apply new technology to help our clients.

For example: As  of May 2015, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers, and smartphone usage is up 394%, and tablet usage is up 1,721% which combine to account for 60% of digital media time spent. (Comscore, April 2015). Do you know if a mobile site, responsive site or app be the best solution for a given project? These questions are at the forefront of our minds, so our customers can focus on running their business.

6) Skill Set:

It takes a unique set of skills to build and maintain effective websites. The value of each of these skills will depend on the nature of your business and purpose of your website.

Design: There is no substitute for a custom website that is designed from the ground up with your business goals in mind. A skilled web designer is essential for creating a visually captivating website that engages your target audience.

Development: While aesthetics are important, the functionality of your website is critical. A good web developer can ensure that the information is delivered in a clear and concise way. Depending on the nature of your business, your web developer can build powerful tools to automate  your business processes and provide valuable service to your customers right from your website 24/7/365.

Marketing: How will your website support your overall marketing plan?  Make sure your website captures visitor behavior. Even if you hate numbers, I guarantee you will find the information useful and interesting. Use visitor behavior to hone your marketing efforts, expand or contract different sections of the website, and create more engaging content.

Website Management and Maintenance:  You know your business and your industry, so being able to make updates yourself is important. In most cases, you are the best person on the team to keep your website content fresh, engaging and relevant. Equally as important is having your site periodically reviewed by a web professional who is well versed in the latest search engine algorithms, mobile optimization standards and emerging technologies.

A final thought
Define success of the project and share that with your web services team. Remember it takes work on your part to ensure that the project is successful. Be prepared, establish clear goals, and be honest about your own expertise and limitations.

By Donna Winter 15 Feb, 2016
In April 2015, Google implemented their  mobile friendly search engine requirements  and now they're working on making the web more secure by  favoring websites using HTTPS protocol

Mobile Friendly: If you still need to make your site mobile friendly, please, let us know. This is not a change you can ignore. With mobile web browsing now exceeding desktop browsing, Google feels it's important to only index and display websites in mobile search results that meet their mobile friendly requirements. Totera offers 2 options to meet Google's requirements and are happy to review your site at no charge and provide recommendations and estimates. 

Security: In December, in an attempt to keep web users secure, Google has decided to give indexing and search engine result preference to sites using HTTPS protocol. This means adding SSL/TLS technology to your web pages and changing your website URLs and dependencies to HTTPS. 

We are happy to give you free estimates for implementing HTTPS security on your site. To help with the cost, Totera has teamed up with www.NameGig.com to provide discounted SSL certificates for our customers, and we will install the certificate on your NameGig-hosted site for free. 

Contact us for your free estimate. 
By Donna Winter 15 Jan, 2016
In April 2015, Google implemented their mobile friendly search engine requirements .

If you still need to make your site mobile friendly, please, let us know. This is not a change you can ignore. With mobile web browsing now exceeding desktop browsing, Google feels it's important to only index and display websites in mobile search results that meet their mobile friendly requirements. 
By Frank DePalma 15 Dec, 2015

Have you thought about expanding your reach and servicing more of your clients’ needs?  Establishing a relationship with an experienced IT firm might be the smartest business move you make this year. Here are five things to look for when searching for your new IT team:

  1. Customer Support
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Appropriate Staffing
  4. References
  5. Transparency
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