It is very hard to buy something when you don’t know a lot about it. I have never seen a guide for buying a website but businesses do it all the time. We have been building websites since 2008 and I think we know what you should have even if you don’t ask for it.
Did you know that you can have a website and not really own any part of it? If the website was built on someone else’s web platform you may not own it. You might not own the actual web address either, (www.yourcompany.com) depending on how it was set up. What this means is that if you have a lot of web traffic going to your web address and that is a good thing, you may not be able to take that with you if you break up with your web provider.
There are a lot of free services for your website that frequently is not supported by any other web developers. This means that you may be tied to that free service forever.
If you use your website to get new business, it is important to have some data about the website visitors. This data is free from Google Analytics if you have the Analytics code inserted on each website page. You can get a lot of information for very little cost but the website developer or provider is the person to add it to the website.
It is possible to have a website made that you can enhance yourself if you want. The technology to do this is very mature and inexpensive. This gives you some control, in-house, of your website. You do not need a webmaster to make all changes if you want to have someone in your business handle these somewhat minor changes.
If you are hoping new customers will find you from doing searches on the web there is some additional, hidden, information that should be inserted into the website by the developer. Leaving this out will put you at a disadvantage to your competition that does have this information. This is in the general class of Website Meta Tags and again is usually inserted by the website developer. The developer may not know enough about your business and may not regard website SEO as part of the website building service.
We routinely take care of these things for our clients and we have developed a list of Website Standards which are on our website. If you are getting a new site done, it would not be a bad idea to go over this list with your developer.