Evaluating Web Design Companies for Your Business
When it comes to choosing the best web design firm for your company website, evaluating your options can be a daunting task. Aside from ensuring that the firm you choose has all of the necessary credentials, you’ll need to find a team you are comfortable working with and one that fits with your goals and budget. You’ll be partnering with your web design company for some time and you want the chemistry to be right and the communication to be clear.
Start by asking good questions to get a feel for the team, their work and their process. Evaluate their web services by speaking to former customers, reading client testimonials, viewing design work examples and exploring team bios.
Here’s a list of questions you may want to consider when interviewing various firms:
Will I receive a written proposal for the work?
Make sure you know what you’re getting and what is expected of you.
Will I be given a written contract with a complete scope of work, a timeline and milestones for my project before we begin?
Read your contract carefully to be sure there are no hidden costs. Ask about the project timeline and how you will be assured that things are on track.
What are the terms of payment?
Expect to pay a retainer to begin work, with payments after certain milestones are complete. You may also be able to negotiate a “lease” type agreement with smaller monthly payments for a contracted period of time.
Do you offer client references?
When a web design firm goes above the call of duty for its clients, those clients should be happy to provide testimonials. If you meet any resistance when requesting references, it’s a big red flag.
Can I see live examples of your completed work?
Consider the examples of work you see based on the intended audience. What’s right for a plumber certainly wouldn’t be right for a software company. What’s important is that the work reflects positively on the business it represents and that the work is original, professional and compelling.
What is the range of your services? Is your firm a one-stop shop or will I need to find other resources?
Consider all your needs, including logo design, print design, marketing consulting, email marketing, search engine optimization, and inbound lead generation.
Who will be my direct contact throughout the project? Will I be working with more than one person?
Find out if the person who sells you the project is the one you’ll be working with. If not, insist on meeting the team you’ll be directly communicating with to ensure that they are a good fit.
Who will be working on my project? What are their credentials?
Be sure that you understand the experience and professionalism of the people in charge of your project.
How many websites do you work on at a time?
If you’re working with a large firm, chances are your project will be one of many. If their team is being pushed to produce quickly and move on, you may end up with a substandard design that is not well thought-out.
How will we communicate, and how often?
You’ll want to know that the person in charge of your project is accessible and responsive. Inquire about the amount of time you should expect for questions, comments and consulting services.
What is your process from beginning to end?
Understand the steps involved in completing your project. Ask about milestones and deliverables at each stage, and understand exactly what will be expected from your team in order to move the project forward according to the timeline provided.
What if I don’t like the design you come up with?
Done right, the firm you are considering goes through a thorough business analysis, marketing and creative brief to understand your needs and preferences before design work begins. Along with regular updates throughout the project, this is the best way to know that you will get what you expect.
Is there content management? What platform or system do you use? How difficult is it to learn?
Without a content management system, you will be dependent on your web design firm for making all changes. Some content management systems are very complicated while others lack flexibility. Ask for a demonstration of the recommended system so you understand its functionality and complexity.
How will you ensure that my website shows up in an online search for my products or services?
Search engine optimization should not be an afterthought. Keyword research is part of the process for deciding on site navigation and content creation. Don’t wait until your site is complete to consider how to maximize your online search visibility.
How will you measure the success of my website?
Benchmarketing, analytics, usability testing and goal-tracking are just a few of the ways to measure the success of your website. Make sure there is a measurement plan from the start.
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