There are thousands of options for web development companies—local, specialized, brand new, experienced—and who you select as the agency for your website project will determine whether your launch is a celebrated success or a horrible headache.
So how do you know which agency to choose for your website design and development? Similar to hiring an employee, you’ll want to spend time getting to know each web development company you’re considering to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t have a list of agencies yet? Start asking for referrals from friends and colleagues or do a search online for website development agencies in your area.
Once you’ve created your list of qualified candidates, here are 6 questions you should ask a website development company before hiring them to ensure you’re picking the right partner for your project.
#1. What is your process for getting to know me and my brand?
A website isn’t just about the look and feel, it also sets the path for your business’ future growth and success. The right agency will take a vested interest in your company’s plans for the future to ensure they are putting together the right solution for you. Consider asking the agency about their discovery process for learning the ins and outs of your business.
Some agencies may run an analysis of your current website and metrics to identify what’s working and what’s not, and/or run an industry and market analysis to get a better sense of effective trends in your particular business. A good partner will host a series of meetings in order to ask thought-provoking questions that allow them to dig deep into your brand.
#2. What is your experience in my industry?
Another key question to get to know if a particular web development company is the right fit for you is what industry they specialize in. Some web development companies that focus in web design for specific industries can have a hard time branching out to other areas of the market. Look for an agency that has more varied experience to bring your a unique design that combines best practices across the digital space, not just in one bucket.
#3. What is your process for communicating the status of my project?
Communication can make or break a website project. Every person and every agency has their own preferred communication methods, but it’s a good idea to identify the process for your specific project before getting started. A few key details to ask about:
- Will a specific manager or contact person be appointed for your project?
- What are staff roles for the project and how will they be involved?
- Will specific checkpoints be set to review the status of the project throughout?
- How will progress reports be submitted?
- Is a project management system used?
- What details, at what point in the project, will they need from you?
#4. What types of websites are you most comfortable developing?
Don’t hesitate to ask about a web development company’s experience with different website types. Depending on your needs, that question can be extremely helpful in narrowing down the list of agencies you may be reviewing. Here’s a few key differences for consideration:
Ecommerce website - requires specific plugins, tools, compliance features and more. This type of site, in general, requires more development time and review.
Lead-generation website - requires some tracking tools but can be developed in segments, depending on your timeline and specific needs.
Brochure website - is the simplest and does not require complex code, widgets, or plugins.
#5. What content management systems (CMS) is your agency most proficient with?
The system your web development company and you select for your back-end website platform is absolutely a point you want to discuss from the start.
After all, the content management system is the platform you’ll use daily to manage your website. Some developers are more comfortable designing with certain platforms, and that may not always line up with your comfort level or existing tools. If an agency is recommending a platform you’ve never used before or are unfamiliar with, ask these questions:
- Ask if you can have a website demonstration
- Ask if the CMS is custom-built or a third-party platform
- Ask if updates can be seamlessly made from the platform
- Discuss customization options
- Discuss growth and scalability
- Talk about compatibility with other systems, whether you want to connect to or transfer from.
#6. What is your fee structure and how are cost changes communicated?
Website development companies fee structures vary, as does the way firms calculate minor costs. Understanding the pricing and which features or details are included with that cost are crucial to deciding which firm you’d like to hire and also the direction you’d like to take your website.
For example, content development may be an additional fee but basic web design may be included in the initial quote. Depending on the level of customization, some website design and development agencies may ask for a separate maintenance and upgrade contract or readily include it in the initial quote.
Whatever the price structure may be, ask about the agencies general process for addressing project scope changes and the impact on the initial quoted price. You don’t want to be caught off guard with an unexpected bill!
Most experienced, professional website development firms also want to avoid big surprises or miscommunications. Discuss a process and make sure both parties are aware and agree before diving in.
Bayshore Solutions is an end-to-end digital agency providing customized brand storytelling, web design & development, e-commerce, digital marketing, creative, and hosting solutions to companies seeking to grow their business. For over 23 years, we’ve helped clients define their audiences, create compelling stories, implement innovative technology, and grow their brands.
Contact Bayshore Solutions today to discuss how we can help grow your business through expert Web development.