Eight Questions (you may not know) to Ask a Web Developer

There’s more to a successful website than a ‘pretty face.’ But you wouldn’t know that until you’ve had to pay the price for an unsuccessful, troublesome website.

Hand-drawn illustration indicating the signals your website sends to humans and machines.
Hand-drawn illustration indicating the signals your website sends to humans and machines.
Your website sends signals to robots, other computers and people.

Question 1: Who owns my website?

You can get a cheap and ‘easy,’ DIY website from many sources these days. And when you’re first starting out in business, especially if you’re operating on a shoestring, it’s the right way to go. With the proper setup, it can give you a chance to develop your content while building status in Google Search.

Question 2: Do you optimize images for design, speed and searchability?

Images are crucial to your site’s success; they can also be ‘silent killers’ over time. Handled unprofessionally, they can negatively impact your site’s performance and your business reputation.

Hand-drawn illustration of person trying to squeeze an oversized image into a iphone
Hand-drawn illustration of person trying to squeeze an oversized image into a iphone
Squeezing oversized images into your website impacts design, accessibility and performance.
  • Shape (landscape, portrait or square) so your design strategy stays consistent and pleases your audience
  • Weight,’ meaning file size, so they’ll load quickly and not use up too much of your audience’s precious bandwidth, or your server resources
  • File type (jpg, png, svg) which also affects bandwidth and server resources
  • Filename — they need to be human-friendly so Google can bring them up in search results
  • Alt text, which is not visible on the page but is crucial for search ranking and accessibility

Question 3: What will my web pages look like in Google Search Results?

Addressing this question takes care of a couple important items at the same time.

Hand-drawn illustration of the head and body, some html tags and a typical browser page
Hand-drawn illustration of the head and body, some html tags and a typical browser page
“Tags” are HTML components of a web page. “Meta tags” are tags about the tags.

Title and Description Meta Tags

The “Title” meta tag tells humans and robots the name of your page and it is the first thing people see in search results. It also shows up in browser tabs so people can see what page they’re on or what tab is open in their browser.

Illustration of the parts of a browser window and search results impacted by ‘title’ and ‘description’ meta tags.
Illustration of the parts of a browser window and search results impacted by ‘title’ and ‘description’ meta tags.
The “Title” and “Description” meta tags are important opportunities to communicate with your audience.

Question 4: Do you do ‘On-Page’ SEO?

“SEO” is Search Engine Optimization, which are techniques aimed at making your website available to search engines. Google search dominates the search engine industry.

Heading Hierarchy

Words on a page are translated as sounds by our brains.
Words on a page are translated as sounds by our brains.
Hand-drawn illustration showing a ‘wall of text’ and properly organized written content
Hand-drawn illustration showing a ‘wall of text’ and properly organized written content
Humans and robots depend on how well your written content is organized.

Hypertext Strategies

Hyperlinks, the clickable text that takes you somewhere else on the internet, can clarify or confuse your audience, enhance or spoil your reputation, and can improve or diminish your ranking in Google Search.

Hand-drawn illustration of the difference between internal and external links
Hand-drawn illustration of the difference between internal and external links
Set external links to ‘open in a new window’ so you won’t lose your audience.

Question 5: Do you do 301 Redirects?

This highly technical term doesn’t translate well into lay terms. It’s only important when you have an existing web site that is being rebuilt with some page changes. If existing page URLs are removed or renamed, people who have the old address will get a 404 error page.

Hand-drawn illustration of Google robots redirecting a click from an old page to a new, replacement page
Hand-drawn illustration of Google robots redirecting a click from an old page to a new, replacement page
Let Google robots redirect your visitor from an old page to a new, replacement page.

Question 6: How will my web pages look on social media?

Hand-drawn illustration comparing images that fit and are cut off in Facebook
Hand-drawn illustration comparing images that fit and are cut off in Facebook
You can choose how your page looks and what it says in social media posts.

Question 7: Will my website pass Google’s tests for responsiveness, speed, and user experience?

Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It’s also in Google’s best interest as a business to give people the results they want. To that end, the company is continuously inventing tools that help web developers create a better experience for their users.

Mobile-Friendly Test

Responsiveness (the ablity to respond to various device widths) is probably a ‘no-brainer’ for web developers today, but some details may slip through the cracks. It’s better to test and developers can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Google insists on a site being ‘mobile-friendly’ for it to show up in search results on phone and tablets.

Page Speed Insights

It’s also in your best interest to give people the experience they want from a website. All your efforts to make a great website will be for naught if the page doesn’t load fast enough. Your audience will just leave. Fortunately, there’s a test for that! It’s Google’s Page Speed Insights.

Hand-drawn illustration of Google’s grading scores for speed; slow, needs improvements and fast
Hand-drawn illustration of Google’s grading scores for speed; slow, needs improvements and fast
A website’s download speed is critical to it’s success.

User Experience ( UX )

Besides speed and layout, there are other critical factors that impact your visitor’s perception of your site and therefore of your business. Just recently, Google announced a set of tools that measure ‘essential metrics for a healthy site.’ Google calls this initiative “Core Vitals.”

Question 8: Will my website be encrypted (https)?

Hand-drawn illustration of the error message Chrome gives when a website is not encrypted
Hand-drawn illustration of the error message Chrome gives when a website is not encrypted
Have you seen this error message? It’s usually due to the website lacking SSL encryption.

Final Notes

Fresh, interesting and professional communications — with real people — are the cornerstone of marketing to loyal, long-term customers. Don’t let your website get in the way, or send the wrong signals by having hidden flaws. Ask if your website is as well-crafted on the inside as it is on the outside.

Coding a better world with stories. Coding better websites through CLGolden Website Services.

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