May 6, 2014

5 Questions to ask before you hire a Design Company

It is a big decision to make when you are deciding on which company you’d like to create your website. You want to make sure your expectations are clearly communicated with the company, and that you have an agreement that these expectations will be met. The last thing you want is to pay out a large amount of money on a website that neither meets your expectations nor brings in results for your company. To help you choose a web design firm that will meet your expectations, here are 5 important questions to ask before hiring Design Company.

1. Where are they located and what are their hours of operation?

It is important that you have a clear understanding of how you will be able to contact the web developers you hire. If they are local, can you stop by the office if you are having an issue? Are they in the same time zone as you? I am not suggesting that you have to work with a local company. In fact, many companies work with design firms from across the country. But understanding this information will give you a better feel for how often you will be able to make contact. If your hours don’t align, ask if they have worked with someone in your area. This should give you a better understanding of how they handle different time zone conflicts.

1B. Can you speak to the designers and programmers directly?

If you’re new to the web, you might feel more comfortable working with team members that you can call or email directly whenever you have a question.  Even if you are a technology pro, this level of personalized service might be something you expect.  However, some web firms put a barrier between customers and developers.  If this is something that will make a difference to you, find out up front before spending the next 3 months talking through a sales person.

2. How is your project going to be billed?

Pricing can become a big issue. You want to be sure that you are going to be paying an agreed amount and not get surprised with extra fees and charges.  Find out if the company bills on an hourly or project basis. If they bill hourly, make sure to understand their hourly rate and how (or if) it varies based on who is working on your site. Some companies charge more for the lead designers and programmers. Also, how do they treat overage hours? Do you pay for the work up front, or after the project is complete? Understanding these issues can help you decide if the firms billing terms work with your standards as well as the capitol of your company.

3. What other services do they offer?

When building a website, there are a lot of factors that go into making it successful. A great design that no customer ever sees is not a successful website. Especially now that Google has been making updates to their ranking algorithm, services such as Pay-Per-Click, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media Management all influence the success of your site. It is important to know what services you will want/need  for your website, and if they don’t offer those services are you willing to work with multiple companies?

4. Who will be working on your project?

It is always nice to know who will be working on your website, especially when you can make direct contact with this person at any stage of your project, even after completed. When you work with a company that outsources, you can run into a huge barrier when trying to solve an issue or figure out why something isn’t working.

5. What are your site’s specifications?

Every company needs to understand what their actual website is coming with. In addition to page count and custom functionality, here are a few key features you might want to double-check on:

  • Mobile
  • Ecommerce
  • Content Management System
  • Photo Gallery
  • Blog
  • Social Media integration

Decide what is important to you with your website. Don’t settle for a mediocre website or waste money on a site that doesn’t meet your needs and expectations. You should research the firm and look into any reviews others have posted. This is a big decision that can impact your company’s future.

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