Investing in a new website is a proposition that can be expensive. Before committing to a web agency, you need to ask the right questions if you want the best bang for your buck. Think of your web agency as your marketing partner, too. A website designed for business plays an integral role in achieving online marketing goals.
Whether you are hiring a web agency for the first time, or redesigning an existing site using their services, making the right choice is important. With so many options, choosing the right fit for your business becomes critical. The best approach to hiring the right web design agency is to interview, review and do your research. Use these 10 questions to find the right agency for your web design and development needs.
#1 Is web development handled in-house?
In-house web development teams understand the technology that drives your website. Having a middleman between the agency and your business is a surefire indication of issues. Don’t end up hiring third-party developers with a web agency as your go-between. To become experts, teams of developers hone their skills over a period of time, so the experience and knowledge they bring to the table is a reliable web solution. Back-ends of similar sites show what is being deployed for your business. Being able to intuitively and quickly edit sites is the key.
#2 Do you design mobile-first, responsive websites?
Building a responsive site, so it works on tablets and mobile devices is essential for any business today. Consider the statistics. Close to 50% of all websites are now viewed via smartphone devices, therefore, your site needs to be mobile ready. The site design needs to respond to the dimensions of the screen on which it is seen. Your web agency should be able to design sites that change in response to screens, browsers, OS and different devices.
#3 Is CMS for the site based on proprietary technology or open source software?
This can make a big difference to the value for money your website agency provides you. Discerning whether sites are based on proprietary or open source software means you can check if licensing fees are levied. Many content management options exist online. Open source software is free to use and maintained by a developer community. This may mean the technology has more people who are familiar with it and use it. This can drive down development costs. Proprietary software, on the other hand, may cost a lot, but offers customisation. So each CMS comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.
#4 Do website solutions come with maintenance and support?
Experts liken a website to a car, which requires ongoing support and maintenance to be strongly powered. Service plan hosting, allied costs and security updates are the crux of effective website support. The world wide web is constantly evolving and as a response, web browsers bring updates, but new viruses are born too. Your site may be functioning beautifully for a while and suddenly develop bugs and problems.For this reason you need a website agency that will partner with you even after initial design is complete. This is because web development does not end with the launch of the site. It is a never-ending process.
#5 The Price Factor: How much do they charge?
Knowing the mode of payment, whether it’s a flat fee or an hourly rate, how much of a chance there is for overshooting the budget and what is the payment policy – these are just some of the pricing queries you must ask. Outside the project’s scope initially, there should be clear procedures for billing for the addition of extra features or work outside the initial scope of the project. Just how effective the web design and development agency is when it comes to hitting deadlines and meeting budgets matters most. Detailed planning should accompany their proposals too.
#6 What is the estimated timeline for designing and developing the site?
Another important question is the estimated timeline required to build the site. This is yet another good item to ask references about. The timeline given plus how long it takes to actually build the website must be considered. The speed of development also depends on how much expertise the team has. A team that has worked extensively on technologies of your choice can obviously work quicker as they have encountered most bugs. Third-party developers working on new technologies, on the other hand, will face glitches they cannot solve and consequently miss deadlines.
#7 What metrics are used to track a website’s success?
There are many ways with which to track the success of the website deployed. Success can be measured in terms of sales, conversions and traffic. Regardless of what metric is used, the ways to measure and track these must be clearly established by the web design and development agency. From handing over design files to analytics showcasing the value of the sight, there’s a lot your web services provider needs to give in the form of a report card.
#8 Will a dedicated project manager manage the project?
A dedicated project manager on the job does a whole lot more than managing the project. He or she also schedules meetings, coordinates timelines, gets feedback, reviews and organises content, apart from a whole lot more. Additionally, having a dedicated project manager on the job helps in spending a lot less on the web development process. After all, the project managers take care of all the details. Considering that it’s the little things that lead to the biggest delays, due diligence is very important.
#9 What are the services on offer?
Along with website design, web solutions providers may also be providing web development, eCommerce solutions, hosting, copywriting and even digital marketing such as ORM, SEM, SEO, SMM, SMO, or PPC management. These are different services requiring different skill sets. Just because a company excels at web design, does not automatically mean it’s great for digital marketing, too. Getting a solid result or even making the right choice is all about having a realistic understanding of the strengths as well as weaknesses of each of the web agencies.
#10 What happens if I don’t prefer a particular design or development solution offered?
Initial project agreements with web agencies call for either limited or unlimited set of revisions. Multiple sign-offs on proposed design layout, colours, images and type fonts give an idea of what the design looks like. Reviewing the process and policies for change with the prospective web design firm are, therefore, important.