When you begin looking for a web design and development company to hire, it can be overwhelming to tell different agencies apart. Having a list of questions to ask can help you compare the companies under consideration, and confirm that their processes and styles align with your vision.
Here are the top 10 questions our team thinks are imperative to ask in the vetting process:
1. What is your company’s process like? Who is involved, and what can I expect?
When you’re investing in something as big as a website, you obviously want to know you’re in good hands. Understanding a company’s process, and the steps they take in creation will help you determine how thorough the team you’re vetting really is. It’s hard to hand over your business to a faceless company. Requesting the names and titles of the team members who will be working on your site will not only give you a sense of personability, but will also inform you of your various points of contact throughout the entire design and development process.
2. How much of your design will be based on research and analytics?
For a website to be successful, it can’t just look appealing - it has to have the data to back it up! Any knowledgeable company or agency will come prepared with insights on your current site (if you have one!), and be prepared to reference analytics or industry research. At this stage of the game, they should be trying their hardest to prove to you their value and expertise so that they can earn your business. If a company seems unsure of the objective for the changes or new designs they’re presenting, that’s a sign that they might not be concerned with your long term results or success.
3. What is your pricing and payment plan like? How flexible are you to work with my budget?
No matter your organization’s size, budget plays a huge role in picking a web design team. You want quality but you may also have a very specific budget in mind. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Look for companies willing to work with you on price, or better yet, in developing a payment plan. A payment plan is a great way to ensure that you don’t settle for an unsatisfactory outcome.
4. Will I be receiving a custom site or a templated site?
The pricing of your future website is likely to be determined by whether it is a templated site or built from scratch (custom). For some businesses, a custom site is absolutely required. They need custom apps and functionalities developed that simply don’t come with a standard templated site. Templated sites often get a bad rap - while you might not be getting something no one has ever seen before, with the right tweaks one can look just as unique as a custom site. For many businesses, templated sites are an affordable solution that suits their needs to a T, particularly if they are small to medium sized business.
5. Will my site be responsive on all devices? (Mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.)
In today’s digital age, having a responsive website isn’t optional, it's mandatory. You want your users to have the best experience possible, and a responsive design is the experience they’ve come to expect! More users than ever are viewing websites on mobile, even more frequently than they do on desktop. In fact, mobile site visits now account for 2/3 of all web traffic. In order for your company to be viewed comparable with your competition, it is important that your site has features which have come to be expected by users, and being responsive is at the top of the list!
6. Who is responsible for coming up with the content of my site? (Photos, copy, graphics, etc.)
With this question, there is no true right or wrong answer, but you definitely want to know what to expect. If the company plans to write all the copy for you, you want to be sure they’re educated in your business, as well as your field. If they say they’ll take care of photos, you want to ask where these photos are coming from; it’s likely they will use stock images, and if that isn’t okay with you, this is the part where you can collaborate, incorporating some of your own photos.
Whether or not you are providing the content of your site should play a role in the cost as well. The more work the company puts in, the higher the cost of the website is likely to be. If you aren’t confident in your own ability to represent your business with correct grammar, spelling, and accuracy, having a company help you can be worth the cost. A website is where your company makes a digital first impression, and visitors will notice discrepancies that make you look unprofessional.
7. Will my website be Search Engine Optimized?
Your website's SERP (search engine results page) ranking matters. The first position in Google's search results has a 31% click-through-rate. Search Engine Optimization is the key to having your site ranked higher on search engines like Google . Making sure your website content utilizes the proper keywords, and answers the questions prospects are searching for is critical to ensuring that your site appears in the SERP when applicable. Additionally, there are measures on the back end a developer can take to increase your page SEO, such as adding meta descriptions and other metadata.
8. What Security Measures will be used on my website?
With so many security breaches in the last few years, security is something users have come to be diligent in looking for. This is particularly important on e-commerce sites, where prospects need to see trust signals before feeling comfortable inputting their financial information to make a purchase. The right web design and development company will help set you up with secure plugins and make sure your site has an SSL certificate, aka the little lock next to your URL.
9. Do you have a portfolio available where I can view examples of sites you’ve built in the past?
When shopping for a website, the proof is in the pudding! It only makes sense that you would want to view examples of a company’s work before making such a major commitment. If a company refuses to or doesn't have any examples to show you, you have a right to be concerned. You want a company with the experience to troubleshoot, design, and analyze efficiency. If they don’t have work to show, it’s likely they aren’t proud of what they’ve produced so far, or they’re inexperienced.
When perusing their portfolio, look to see if your styles align, as well as the range of work they display. If a company only designs sites for banks, and you’re a fashion company, it is possible they might not be the best fit. Another tip is to search for the actual site they show in their portfolio; many companies only have screenshots for you to view, but by visiting the website itself, you can test out the functionality, and get a deeper look into things like site navigation, and overall page layout.
10. When my site is complete, will you be hosting it? Is there an ongoing contract?
Knowing whether your site is a singular project or an ongoing investment may play a major role in your decision. Very rarely is your site truly “complete” once it is launched; there will come a time when you want to make changes, or have support when you need it. If your website has plugins, those will need to be updated on a monthly basis, and you may need the resources to know whether those updates will cause other features of your site to crash. Having an ongoing contract, or website maintenance package can take this responsibility off your shoulders, and make sure you have experts on hand whenever you need them. When it comes to hosting, you want to know what server your website will be on, and whether you’ll be working with your existing team or a third party service.
When picking a web design and development company, it’s important to look at more than just price. Looking at company mentality, and what comes included with that price is essential since not all companies organize their projects the same way. After asking these 10 questions, we hope that you’ll feel more confident in deciding which web design and development agency is right for you.