Finding A Website Design Company That FitsWednesday February 25th, 2015
Make sure your project scope, needs, expectations and values line up well with the website design company that your hire.
When you start your search for a website design company, you’ll find some who promote custom design and development, some who like their own proprietary framework and CMS and others who specialize in an open-source CMS like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.
You’ll probably start to wonder if one camp is right and the other is wrong. The answer is, it depends who you are, what your goals are and what your website budget is.
Too big, too small, or just right?
It’s important that you enter into a relationship with a web design company that is on your level. That doesn’t mean they have to be the same size, but they need to be able to provide services and solutions that fit your requirements, expectations and budget.
A smaller boutique agency can be a great option for breathing life into an older and larger brand, but the larger brand may have lots of red tape and legacy platforms to deal with. The boutique agency should have the experience and foresight to ask the right questions and scope the website project correctly. It’s also crucial that they have the personnel and agility to move quickly and support the bigger client through tough transitional phases of the website design process.
On the other hand, you want to make sure you’re not hiring a website design company that shoves you onto the conveyor belt once the contract is signed. Simply ask your point of contact where your budget and project scope fall in relation to other projects.
Is this a big project for them? Is the budget above average for them? If the answer is “no,” then you may not get the attention you desire.
Organizing Your Website Project
There’s nothing more helpful to a web design company than an organized and exhaustive list of all features and integrations that are needed for a project, along with any documentation that is available. Even if that list changes later (and we completely expect it to), it’s still a great starting point. Don’t leave out your wish list items, but make sure to label them as such.
If you want to pull information from a third party using an API, grab the documentation and send it over when you ask for a quote from the web design company. Also, make sure you consult any stakeholders in your company to get a clear list of what they would like to see included in a web redesign.
Web designers embrace clients who do their homework and organize their project before reaching out
If you are able to provide that list of desired features, functionality, integrations and notes about the style and goals of the project, you’re going to get the attention and appreciation you deserve. Not only that, you’ll likely get a more precise quote that doesn’t have as much contingency built in. You’ll get a better product in the end– maybe even more than what you paid for. Being a good client goes a long way!
Do you need more than a website design company?
Depending on the web design company you are talking to, they may also be experienced marketers, or they may have very little marketing expertise and focus more on design and user experience. If you have a separate agency who helps you with the technical side of web design and online marketing, then you might not need a web design company with these skills.
If your company does not have the skills in house to manage a digital presence and ongoing optimization, you might want to find an agency that can support your website beyond the launch in areas like content strategy, SEO, landing page creation and A/B testing. But finding the right digital marketing agency is another conversation entirely. Decide whether you need a web design company with marketing capabilities. If you need both, make sure you weigh that correctly during your interviews with potential vendors.
Questions to ask a web design company before you hire them
If you’ve decided on the custom website route and are ready to look at web design companies and receive quotes, use this list of questions to make sure you find a web design agency that fits your needs and will achieve your vision.
- How do you handle support after the website launches, and what does it cover?
- How do you handle upgrades?
- What CMS will you use and what will it allow us to change?
- What kinds of changes won’t the CMS allow for?
- Will we host and own the final product?
- What is your approach to SEO?
- Do you market the website after launch? What fees are associated?
- What type of testing do you perform before launch?
- Do you support all browsers and operating systems?
- Is my website going to be responsive?
- What is your process?
- What are traits of your most successful website design projects and website clients?
- What were some of your more challenging situations with website clients?
- What type of research and discovery do you do?
- Can you provide me with references?
- Do you have different tiers of service?
- How do you calculate a timeline and quote?
You can filter out a bad website design company by asking these questions. There are plenty of good companies ones out there, and their answers will vary, but make sure they sound prepared and capable. If they stumble and hesitate during your interview process, imagine how rocky the website development process will be.
Are there any questions that you think I left out? If so, please share.