So you’re ready to make the move and take your firearms business to the next level with a new or updated website. But you quickly find out that with little or no experience in creating websites, you will need to begin the process of finding a web development team you can trust and reply on.
After some online research you will soon notice the hundreds, if not thousands, of commodity-based themes, cheap gun website templates and mass-produced website services offered by mega online companies and offshore contractors. These companies will provide you with a bids ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for what appears to be the same work. The crazy thing is most business owners have no clue how these estimates are determined nor do they have any way of knowing which bids are unrealistically low, which are outrageously inflated and which are actually in the ballpark.
The goal of this article is to provide you with necessary information to properly begin your search for the right technology partner. We want you to understand what’s involved and to ask the right questions so that you have a working knowledge of what the development process will entail from the planning stages through launch. Your firearms website is an important marketing tool and an investment for your business, so make sure that you take the time needed to research your options.
Step 1 – Understanding & Documenting Your Needs
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many firearms business owners contact us to design a new website for them and their main objective is how quickly their website can be completed. Understanding and documenting your requirements is an important first step – put your thoughts down on paper. It doesn’t have to be fancy or organized with bullet points and navigation structure, but it should be a clear, concise outline of the “must have” features and functionalities for your project. You can include the main features you want on the website or even provide examples of other websites that you would like to emulate. Just make notes and write down what you have in mind so you can share it with your development team.
Step 2 – Finding the Right Development Team
There are multiple ways to begin your quest to find the right development team for your new firearms website project. You can search online for web development companies or ask a friend or business associate for recommendations. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to remember that you must do your due diligence and investigate the references of each development team individually. If the developer has testimonials on their site, read through them, but keep in mind that not all “testimonials” are from actual clients. In my opinion, a better option is to ask them for a list of previous clients along with phone numbers and email addresses so you can contact them directly. If they are not willing to do this, turn around and run – this is not the development team for you
Once you receive the list of past clients, make sure you ask the following questions:
- What services did the company provide to you?
- How long did the project take from start to finish?
- Was the project delivered on-time?
- Was the project delivered “on budget”?
- Are you completely satisfied with the work performed?
- Who was your day-to-day contact at the company?
- Would you do business with this company again?
Step 3 – Never Let Price Dictate Your Decision
It’s so tempting to go for the cheapest bid submitted. After all, how much different could the finished product really be? A website is a website, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, the cheapest bid is rarely the one you should accept and in most cases these “low ball” bidders are submitting an unrealistically low price just to get you to hire them. It’s not until you are 3 months into the project when the developer comes back to you and says that they are going to have to change the price because they underestimated your requirements. This is a very common “strategy” used by outsourced service providers on freelancer websites – many freelancers entice people with cheap bids only to increase the price later.
The first sign that you are on track to finding the right development team will be if they review your requirements and provide you with well thought out responses and willingly provide you with a list of previous clients. Keep in mind, if you expect the developer to “fine tune” your requirements, offer specific feedback or suggestions or alter your specification document there will probably be a fee associated with this service, which is not unreasonable. However, in most cases a reputable web development company should be able to do a cursory review of the initial scope of your project, get a sense of what you are trying to accomplish and provide you with a ballpark estimate for the work.
All Firearms Web Development Companies are Not Created Equal
Planning, designing, developing, testing and publishing a professional website for any kind of business is a time consuming task, but when you factor in the complexities of the firearms industry with the need for legal compliance, quality custom graphics, lead management, multimedia integration, content management and the need to deliver interactive user engagement, you can quickly see that designing a website for a gun shop, gun manufacturer or online gun retailer is not a Do-It-Yourself project. It’s not something that you simply “throw” together in a couple days.
Make a short list of prospective web development companies within the different price ranges and interview them to see where the differences are in their service offerings. Ask questions and talk to past clients about their experience.
While finding the right development team may seem like a daunting task, it is a critical component to the online success of your firearms business. An experienced team of knowledgeable professionals will make the process enjoyable while maximizing your return on investment.