The Web Corner – Web Developer Checklist

It’s increasingly difficult sorting good companies from bad ones on the Internet. There are still ways to find the best, reliable web development companies. We’ve compiled this recommended checklist as a starting point. The order these are in isn’t necessarily important since ALL points are important!

Check to see if your web development company:

will ensure that YOU own your website when it’s paid for
is legitimately registered to do business within its State: NH MA ME VT
has been in business for at least 10 years
has several or more people
carries workman’s compensation on its employees
carries liability insurance
maintains a committed presence in networking groups
is accredited and has a good rating with the Better Business Bureau (https://BBB.org)
understands your community and reciprocates by referring business to you
has a phone contact where one can at least leave messages
has an email contact where one can send information
provides automatic site updates at no additional ongoing charge
backs up websites every night for at least a month
provides website encryption (SSL) at no additional ongoing charge
does not require hosting or domain contracts
does not overcharge you by selling sell inflated monthly maintenance plans
provides partial hour web work billing (9 minutes work charged 9/60 of hourly rate)
can respond to most maintenance requests in 3-4 days
has general familiarity with trademark and copyright issues
is proficient with WordPress through experience and training

Over upcoming weeks check here for details about each. Contact us with any questions, we exist to serve you!

The Web Corner – Free Counters

It surprises me how many people still fall for anything with “FREE” attached to it. We shockingly still see “free counters” on many websites. They’ve been around as long as the web. Newbie web users still get fascinated by counters showing site visitor numbers.

There are problems with some freebies. If you visit a website and see that 3 people have visited it, that doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the site.

An aesthetic issue is that really nice, elegant looking websites don’t usually have counters. So site visitors aren’t distracted by traffic to the site. In fact, site counters are simply not that much in fashion these days.

Another problem is that many free counters are actually security risks. For an example, I recently read about a “Free SuperCounter Widget” that many have been using. It redirects site visitors to other sites (like dating and gambling and so on). So folks installing this counter were unwittingly sending site visitors away from their site.

Even more insidious is where the counter loads malware/viruses into the website – infecting site visitors as well.

The bottom line here: Yet another simple lesson about getting what you pay for. If your site has been infected, contact us or your developer for help.

 

The Web Corner – Review your Website

Customers want specific info about products and services. If there have been no changes since your website launched, they’ll look somewhere else.

New info triggers search engines to re-scan your website and index it according to what it sees as current and popular, relative to other websites in your industry. Distinctive and useful content helps the search engines recognize what your site is about. Posting new content on a regular basis gives the search engines a reason to scan your site more often.

Updating depends on your industry and who your competition is. The important thing is to review your site on a regular basis. We recommend a website review at least once a month.

Ensure your contact information up to date – nothing is worse than nonworking phone numbers or wrong hours. Your navigation hyperlinks all need to work as well. Good testimonials are an absolute plus. Noteworthy news posted can also help broadcasting your latest and greatest developments.

If you’re website doesn’t allow you to easily change the text in it, you should consider updating to one that will.

Keeping your website material up to date will help keep your current clients as well as add new ones.

The Web Corner – Friends Helping

It’s great to have “a friend in the web business,” isn’t it? That’s usually what people think when friends offer to help with one’s website. Web development is very complex. Every situation doesn’t end badly but I can tell you from experience many do.

A major problem is the “one person show” issue. For about 6 years CharlesWorks was only Charles – limited by what one could do in finite weekly hours. Being constantly asked what happens during vacations or sickness. The first hire happened to gain time to focus more. Another person to focus on business and office management. That allowed us to handle far more clients.

Now with 9 people it was unimaginable then we’d ever handle thousands of websites. Or that the first hire would still be here as my General Manager and develop her graphic, web and marketing abilities to an expert level over that time.

We have many folks we’ve helped after having negative experiences with their friends helping them. Think of how badly it can end when you put your business presence in a single person’s hands whose main life’s focus may not even be web work. Especially if your business is your bread and butter!

The Web Corner – Web Hosting

Hosting is where your website physically resides on servers attached 24/7 to the internet. Here’s some info for finding a good web hosting company:

Local – Best sticking with local folks. Computers have glitches. Knowing someone who can explain issues is important.

Customer Service – Nothing’s worse than being ignored. Many companies don’t interact with their clients. Find one you can actually reach. Conversation shows if they can explain things in understandable terms.

Longevity – Ensure they’ve been at this a while. Lousy companies don’t generally survive the test of time. The longer they’ve been around the better they usually are at providing service.

Reliability – Backups are a must. Good hosters back up websites nightly. If your company is a reseller of services – a “middle man” – they’ve no control over servers. Avoid such an arrangement.

Security – Your host should perform regular server updates. WordPress sites require security updates as well. You should be able to perform those.

Contracts – Avoid contracts. Deal with hosters that allow you to quit when you want to. That way they’re always striving to provide good service – not just when it’s time to “renew” with them.

Contact us with questions. We’re glad to help.

The Web Corner – Do-It-Yourself Sites

Do-it-yourself website builders make it sound SO easy! And they can be. But there can be a steep price to pay.

I see ads every now and then boasting about how you can build a website in an evening with no previous experience. Several times a month we have people who have fallen into that trap, then contact us to help them out of it.

The biggest issue with these do-it-yourself sites is that you don’t own your site! The platform/servers the site is built on is proprietary – so you’re locked in to that company. Couple that with the fact that the site can’t be easily customized. Also, your site looks like numerous others. Many of these sites are not found well in the search engines. They have layers of coding that makes it easy to make changes but harder for the search engines to “see” what they’re about.

Do-it-yourself sites are generally not through local companies either. So if doing business with local people who will send business back to you is important – that’s another reason to avoid them.

When thinking of having a website built, take the time to ask a developer about options. Simply ask, “Do I own my website?”

The Web Corner – WordPress

Websites don’t just appear out of thin air. They must be built. There are numerous products to assist with this. Many are what are called Content Management Systems (CMS). The most popular today is called WordPress. Nearly 1/3 of all websites use it.

WordPress Logo
A somewhat typical
WordPress logo

WordPress started as a blog software. It’s capabilities evolved over time to include pages, navigation and all the components needed for a web presence.

Just as anyone can build a home or paint a house or even perform their own dental work – anyone can make a website. All you need are the right tools and lots of time to spend learning how to do it, right? That’s why we hire contractors and painters and go to a dentist. WordPress developers save folks the time of developing the website – so they can be busy doing what they are best at.

WordPress software is free. However, website development takes time and is best done by professionals familiar with it.

Be wary of the promise of a website “anyone can build”. Those result in trapping you to a particular vendor – meaning you do not own your website. With WordPress you can go anywhere and most importantly you own the work you paid for.

Charles Oropallo (Charles@CharlesWorks.com) started CharlesWorks in Peterborough NH in 1998. His team does website design, hosting, search engine optimization (SEO) and related web services.

The Web Corner – Introduction

Welcome to The Web Corner!

Charles Oropallo, CharlesWorks founder, Peterborough NH
Charles Oropallo, who owns and founded CharlesWorks in 1998 in Peterborough NH

Charles Oropallo from CharlesWorks in Peterborough NH will be bringing you articles on popular web topics with helpful hints. Most are simple, some are for the more experienced. All should be useful and educational. We will address:

    • Passwords with our focus on making them secure – yet easy to remember.
    • Common Internet scam information about domain name renewals to perhaps save you a lot of grief going forward.
    • More Internet scam information about Directory Listing scams to again save you a lot of grief.
    • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in layman’s language and how it works.
    • Current web design products like WordPress – a free content management system for building websites.
    • Some information about spam and how you get onto those spammer’s lists.
    • Common myths and misconceptions about domain names aimed at helping you protect your online brand.
    • The ease (or not) of website self-maintenance for do-it-yourselfers.
    • The importance of shopping local and supporting your own community.
    • Things to know about email security on your phone or on your computer or on your tablet.
    • Website hosting and the advantages to local servers vs cloud storage.
    • The occasional pitfalls of having your friends help you with your web needs.
    • Reviewing your website now and then.
    • A little about email etiquette and things to avoid.
    • A common email extortion to ignore.
    • Secure Socket layers (SSL) and the surrounding hype.
    • Some tips and thoughts about choosing domain names.
    • Free counters and issues surrounding most “free” web stuff.
    • Info about a common “you need to update your email” scam.
    • A brief explanation of “the cloud” as applied to the Internet.
    • Social media – Facebook in particular – and how it relates to your web presence.
    • How long you have to get site visitor’s attention.
    • Who owns your domain and info about domain ownership.
    • Checking up on your web content and the minimum needed.
    • Checklist to help you find the best web developer.

And more! We’ll update this page over time with the topics we cover each week!

Lots to share!

Email us with questions/suggestions. Check back here at Charles Tips each week to see our weekly installments!

Charles Oropallo (Charles@CharlesWorks.com) started CharlesWorks in Peterborough NH in 1998. His team has performed website design, hosting, search engine optimization (SEO) and related web services for thousands of web clients on four continents.