Web design agency selection is a daunting task. A well-designed, attractive and highly responsive web presence is a must-have for any business today. It is often your first opportunity to make a memorable first impression and, if done right, should prompt visitors to take action whether that be a phone call, email or an order for products and services.
Experienced web designers make all the difference in whether your site impresses or looks like someone’s freshman programming project. When discussing your needs with qualified designers, these are the crucial 15 questions to get your selection process off to a solid start.
1. How Much Is This Going to Cost Me?
This question cannot really be answered until the web design agency knows all your requirements, but it is good to let them know your pocketbook is not wide open. They probably offer whole-project pricing or hourly rates for custom projects requiring the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast.
2. Are You a Full-Service Provider?
Most website design agency companies offer services including graphic design, responsive design, custom programming, SEO and copywriting, but full-service agencies also provide hosting, maintenance and digital marketing plans to promote your site.
3. How Many People Are on Your Web Design Agency?
More staff does not necessarily mean your project will be done more quickly as the firm may be working on multiple, simultaneous projects. What is most important is being able to deal directly with a single, competent designer who you can depend on.
4. Can I See Examples of Recent Work?
A competent web design company has a portfolio of clients’ websites, but ask for additional examples especially if you have a particular style or functionality set in mind. While you’re at it, ask for their design credentials plus two or three client references. Be sure to actually talk to those references.
5. When Will My Project Be Complete?
Web design agency companies with deep web design and development experience are most likely to provide accurate cost and time quotes. Clients who hire by the hour should expect some elasticity in a designer’s estimates as requirements may change as work progresses.
6. Are Domain Name Registration and Hosting Included?
Most design agencies can register your new website domain and set it up on a reliable hosting provider. If you want to find your own hosting provider, they can help you navigate the many options and tradeoffs in this area.
7. Do You Help Produce Content Including Images?
Content is king these days. Unless you have expertise in this area, it pays to use a designer who also supplies quality content. Such content may include site copy, a blog, images or videos. They assure your visual content is either properly attributed public domain or licensed so your site never gets tagged for using copyrighted materials.
8. What Will the Designer Need From You?
This seems an obvious question, but sometimes you or the web design agency harbor unspoken assumptions about who is making the important choices about style, functionality or content. Ask them frequently what else they need from you and when just up to the point of being annoying. You are more likely to avoid a situation where you are holding up the project this way.
9. Will My Website Be Mobile Device Compatible?
Desktop-centric, HTML 1.0 sites went out about the same time as necktie belts. Mobile device traffic now dominates web traffic. Thus, your website needs to play well on tablets, smartphones, etc. to be competitive. Your designer should demonstrate that they are all over that curve. They get extra credit if they coherently present the pros and cons of a mobile-friendly website, made-for-mobile site or a mobile app for your business.
10. Will You Make My Website Search Engine Friendly?
Search engine friendliness is the goal of Search Engine Optimization aka SEO. SEO alone does not guarantee first-page rankings in, say, Google Search, but it helps immensely. A savvy web design company lists all the ways they build in SEO to a site’s design and content.
11. How Will Social Media Be Integrated into the Design?
As or more important than SEO is the plan for plugging your website into the plethora of social media outlets that give your site the exposure it richly deserves. The best web designers explain their social media strategy plus offer marketing packages that promote your site as soon as it’s live.
12. Can I View My Site’s Progress at Regular Intervals?
Your website design firm must be open to letting you view their work at various stages of completion to confirm the project is meeting expectations. Everyone has a natural reluctance to showing off unfinished work, but professional web designers understand the importance of regular client previews.
13. Do You Have a Client-Accessible Content Management System?
A CMS is how the designers manage the versions of your website including the page hierarchy, content, code and so on. Once the project is handed over to you, you will want use the same CMS to keep your site updated. Make sure it works for you on your preferred operating system and browser.
14. Do You Offer a Maintenance Service?
There will be times when your business or marketing strategies change such that significant updates are required. If you do not have the time or expertise to do these, the obvious place to turn to is your web design company. So, talk to them about maintenance plans before work commences.
15. Who Owns My Site?
As long as you are talking maintenance, discuss ownership of the domain and the site itself. Some web design agency companies will hand off the site, domain and hosting to you, whereas others prefer to retain ownership along with ongoing maintenance.
Sorting It All Out
The first time you enlist a web design and development agency, it is natural to feel a little lost. Hopefully, the set of questions above will help you make sense of a design firm’s capabilities and provide a basis for worthwhile comparisons between different providers. If you need help for designing and developing your site, please contact us.