Your website is the hub of your marketing efforts and the first impression most customers have of your business. Don't you want it to be great? Make sure your new website or website redesign meets your expectations. You can use the following list of questions when interviewing potential website design companies. These are essential questions you'll want to know the answers to.
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1. What services do you offer?
Do they offer any other services you might be interested in? Just because a company offers a host of digital marketing services doesn’t necessarily prove anything. Digital marketing is very complex and companies that specialize may provide a better service to you in the long run. You want to be careful you don’t get a “jack of all trades and master of none”. A quality design firm will be able to connect you with other service providers if necessary.
2. Do you custom design websites or use pre-made templates?
Some companies offer both options, but you will pay more for a custom site. Many of the pre-made templates today can be tweaked to your needs. It’s important to note that templates are typically built based on proven, time tested designs. You are not getting an inferior product using a template. Discuss your website needs and ask for a price comparison of the two before making your decision.
3. Can you provide examples of websites that your company designed?
Check out the examples you are given. Are they easy to navigate? Are the designs current and modern? Do you think they are a strong first impression for the business?
4. What strategies will you use to generate revenue for my site?
The company you select to design your website should be just as concerned about generating revenue for your business as you are. What tools would they recommend for your site to drive revenue for your business? Your website is the hub of your marketing efforts. How will the design firm create a functional, well performing site that generates revenue for you?
5. How will my project be managed?
This will help you get an idea how the firm works and what to expect throughout your project.
6. Who will be working on my website?
This is another question that will help you understand how the firm works and what to expect.
7. How long will it take to complete my website?
The turnaround time for a website design is based on the scope of the work required and how quickly you provide the firm with the required information (images, content, etc.). What’s the typical turnaround time if the firm has all the content? What happens if timelines aren’t met?
8. How much input will I have with my website design?
During your initial consultation, a web design firm should ask you questions to get a feel for your business, how you want your business to be seen and the types of websites you like. This will give the designer a good idea what your business is like and what you need out of your website. You should have the ability to be involved in the design as much or little as you want.
9. What happens if I don’t like the initial design?
Can you make design changes and how many? This will usually be outlined in the project proposal/agreement. It’s important to review the process and the policy for changes with the design firm.
10. What do you need from me to get started?
You will usually need to provide any images and other content you want on your site. Most firms will also require a signed agreement/proposal (which is a good idea to ensure you and the firm are on the same page).
11. Will my website be built to expand as my business grows?
Businesses are dynamic and constantly changing. How easy is it to make changes and updates to your site as your needs change? How much will future changes to your site cost?
12. Can you create a logo for my site?
If you don’t have a logo or have been thinking about a new logo, a website redesign is a great time to implement a new logo for your business.
13. Can you help me get images for my website?
You want to ensure you do not run into any copyright infringement issues with images used on your website. Ask the firm if they have access to any free images or if you need to pay for images.
14. How do you price your services?
Pricing from web design firms varies significantly. Are they billing on a flat project price or hourly? “You get what you pay for” is good to keep in mind. There are a number of inexpensive website options out there, but the quality of work will typically reflect the price you pay. Your website is the hub of all your marketing, do you really want to skimp on it?
15. What is included in the price?
You need to know exactly what you are paying for. Are you going to get hit with a bunch of surprise fees as you finish the project? Some firms offer hosting, maintenance and ongoing support. Others do not. Know exactly what you are paying for and what you are not.
16. Will my website be compatible with smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices?
This is an absolute must! Do not work with a design firm that can’t deliver a responsive site. Having said that, some firms deliver a much better responsive site than others. Are they adjusting content for different screen sizes? If so, why and how are they doing it?
17. Do you build search engine optimization into websites?
Will your website be coded with SEO in mind? It’s a good idea to have a third party SEO firm conduct an SEO audit prior to launch to make sure there aren't any major issues.
18. How do you determine keywords for my site?
The right keywords are a vital part of a proper SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. Having said that, keyword research is completely outside the scope of most website designs. Does the designer have experience working with third party SEO firms?
19. What type of content management system do you use?
The content management system allows you to manage your website’s content without the need for coding. The most advantageous content management system offers the option of updating your website yourself or having the website firm integrate the content and do the updates for you. Ask whether the type of system used is a third-party system or a custom built one of their own.
20. Do you offer domain name registration?
Before a website can go live, it needs a name. Most full-service web design firms will handle domain name registration. Ask the firm if it will check whether the name you want for your site is available, if they will register it for you, how many years the domain name registration is for and the cost for performing this service.
21. Will I be able to see the website as you’re creating it?
You may want to be able to check your website throughout the design process. Does the firm have a way of giving you access to the site anytime during your project?
22. Will the functionality of my website be tested before it goes live?
Your site should be tested before going live. What types of tests will the firm perform prior to your site going live?
23. Will my current site experience downtime as you update it?
When your new site is ready to go live it is important to know how this will impact your current website. What will be involved in the transfer process? What will the firm do to minimize any downtime?
24. Do you offer web hosting services?
Some web design firms offer hosting (meaning your website will reside on their hosting services), others do not. If they offer hosting find out what their hosting includes.
25. Will you integrate social media into my web design?
How will the firm integrate your social media accounts into your website? Will they include this in their fee or will it be extra?
26. Do you offer on-going maintenance after my site goes live?
Once your site goes live will you be on your own or will you have access to the support you need? How quickly will the firm respond to your needs? You don’t want to be one of those people scrambling for website help when you really need it.
27. Will I be able to access my website statistics without contacting you?
There are a number of analytics platforms out there. What does the firm use for analytics and will you have access to it when you need it?
That's it! Get the answers to these questions and I think you'll have a pretty great idea which website design company will be the best fit for you.
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PS. Does your business have a mobile strategy? If not, I think you'll find this article on 7 Super Easy Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Businesses helpful. Check it out!
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Tim Fitzpatrick is the President & Founder of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We're the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.