Hiring a company to design your website can be a daunting task if you don’t know the right questions to ask. When you start shopping around to find the best team to fit your needs, ask them the following questions to see if they are a company for you.
It is important to review your potential website designer’s work before hiring them. Do they have a large body of work? Does their design style speak to you? Do they have reviews from past clients? Most designers will have their body of work on their website. Portfolios are important because it shows the expertise of your design partner.
Setting up a budget before you speak with a website designer is essential. Some website designers will list their prices, and others will provide a quote. Talk with your designer about the goals for your website and see which features can be included to fit your budget.
Ask your designer how they code their websites – if it's custom or 3rd party themed. This is important to know because if they use a prepaid theme from 3rd parties, then you might run into some issue if the original coder does not keep it updated. If written in custom code, ask them what platform they use (ie: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc).
Owning your websites means you pay for the intellectual property of your website. Be sure that there are no hidden fees associated with the ownership of the website. Some companies will keep your website if you decide to move on to another design company, so be sure to read the fine print of your contract.
Be sure to ask about timelines and deadlines. Professional web design companies will provide you with an estimated timeline to completion. Timelines are usually pushed forward if you as a client do not give prompt feedback, so be sure to respond in a timely many when your designer asks for things.
Finding out if your website designer has an in-house team or outsources their work is important for several reasons. Generally speaking, if the design firm is in-house you will have a quicker turnaround time. This is because you can discuss your revisions with them directly instead of having them relay your feedback to someone overseas in a different time zone. Also, if they have an in-house team, it means that they know and understand design and development. Sometimes you will run into companies that have no idea how websites are developed and just play the role of salesman and project manager. You can run into problems here if the professional you hired can’t tell if the product they deliver to you is quality.
Be sure to ask how the backend of your website works. CMS’s such as WordPress offers an easy to use backend where you can edit or add content. See if your website designer will offer training on how to use the back end of your website. If you are unable to manage edits, see how much they will charge per hour to add updates.
Most designers will ask for you to provide content for your website pages. Some design firms will have a content writer on staff for an additional fee if you do not feel comfortable writing content. Depending on the firm they may charge per word or by page.
If you do not have a logo already made, ask your designers about creating a logo. It's best to come in with some ideas of what you want your logo to look like so they are not throwing a dart in the dark. Depending on the complexity of the design logo cost will differ. Be sure to get a copy of all the file types you will need for digital and print use.
Having a mobile-friendly website is of the utmost importance. A majority of your website traffic will come from mobile. Google looks at your website on mobile as an SEO ranking factor. Be sure to ask if your website will be mobile responsive.
You might need other services in the future like graphic design, marketing, print materials, host, and upkeep. See what services the website agency offers. If they offer a wide variety of services and you are happy with their work, stick with them.
This is a key to ask. Clear communication is central to the success of your website build. As who will be the point of contact. Also, ask what kind of project management software they use. If they have a system in place to manage your communication, file sharing, and to-do’s, you can bet they are reliable.
Most of the time a design firm will outline the process of how things will be done. Be sure to ask about revisions and how many you will be allotted. During the revision process make sure you are giving timely feedback and supplying anything your design team needs to keep the process moving.
Your designer should give you a list of things they will need to kick off your projects. This usually includes things like your logo file, photos, content, user names, and passwords. If there is anything else they need be sure to get it to them as soon as possible to keep on schedule with the completion timeline.
Keeping your website up to date is vital to keeping bugs and hackers away. Ask your design firm if they offer monthly maintenance services. Also, ask about an SSL certificate. Some design firms will provide one for you and others will advise you on where to purchase one.