Websites are an essential part of the marketing toolkit for your company or organization. Undertaking a new website or a website redesign is a huge decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Selecting a web design company to plan, design, develop, market, support and continually improve your website is one of, if not THE, most important and critical decisions your company will make.
Your website directly impacts anyone who comes in contact with your company – sales, marketing, IT, executive leadership, shareholders, current customers, future customers. There is no sugar coating it, this is a huge deal.
The good news is that you can feel much more at ease and empowered during your search and greatly improve your odds of hiring the right company by asking these simple questions.
These questions are essential because they are relationally focused allowing you to get to know more than just “What CMS will the website use”? Obviously it is important to discuss the technological framework, site deliverables, timeline, billing, and so on – but it is more vital to find out more than just the surface level details of the company.
1. How do you manage working for non-local clients?
It’s completely acceptable to hire local but don’t be afraid to expand your search to a broader area. If your company is already comfortable hiring remotely, be sure to ask specific questions to determine what collaboration would be like. Would face-to-face meetings be required? If so, at what stages of the project? Will you travel to us or will we travel to you? Should we have regularly scheduled meetings? How often should we plan to connect?
2. How will the process be managed during development of my website?
Some companies will want to design and build your website in a vacuum with little to no contact from project kick off until site launch. Or they may prefer to only communicate via email. If they ascribe to either of these scenarios, we’d encourage you to run away from them as fast as you can. Email definitely is an appropriate communication tool but is by no means a valid solution for project management. You should confirm that they use a web-based project management tool which will afford you the ability to participate in conversations, review tasks, upload files and check milestones along the way. The art of building websites requires organization, precision, research and ongoing conversations.
This is our approach to (managing a website with excellence).
3. Are There Any Documents That We’ll Need to Sign?
It would be really nice if we could simply look each other in the eye, shake hands and conduct business on a simple gentlemen’s agreement, but we all know we don’t live in an ideal world. Most companies will have a standard Master Services Agreement, Statement of Work, Project Scope or other document to outline how they will work with each other. Contracts are a part of doing business and should be expected. They should cover things like guarantees, ownership of assets, intellectual property, and most importantly, how to handle things like delays or changes in scope. Ultimately, be sure they are ready to do business and have been in this type of situation before.
4. How Do You Determine if the Website is a Success?
There are many ways to track the success of a website. It could be traffic, sales, conversions, clicks, downloads, etc. It is helpful to know whether the firm you hire plans for the tracking of site analytics. No matter what your metric for success is you should be sure that you are able to track it and the firm you hire includes that in their proposal and deliverable to you. It should be built into the site and ready to go at launch.
5. Will the Website Be Responsive (so that it works on mobile devices and tablets)?
Well over 50% of all websites are now viewed on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile ready then you are setting yourself up for failure by either alienating users or being penalized by Google as they announced in early 2016 that their algorithm now prefers mobile-responsive websites. If your web design firm isn’t building responsively then they are frankly years behind the ball and they should not be trusted. Trust Us.
In the end, it’s all about your bottom line.
Smart websites are built with an emphasis on driving results and should be working for your business. If you want your website to impact your organization’s bottom line in a positive way, take the time to really get to know your potential web design firm during the interview process. The time is well worth it and your website deserves it.