Web designers run the gamut from a one-person shop who can make you a nice, functioning WordPress site for a few thousand bucks to complete web design and digital marketing agencies. What you need and what you can afford will depend on the kind of business you’re running. But no matter the scope of your website project, there are some essential questions you should ask before you sign that contract.
1. How realistic is your timeline? Is there anything that could throw it off?
Don’t just assume a deadline is a deadline. As your website designers how firm and realistic their timeframe is. Ask how often they meet their deadlines and what sort of issues might delay release of your site.
2. How firm is the price? What does it include, and what would result in additional charges?
Never sign without a detailed contract that spells out what your website project includes. It should clearly show who is responsible for every phase of the project and what it entails, including information architecture, content development, SEO, domain acquisition, design and design revisions, coding, integration with databases and systems, responsive design, post-launch analytics and site optimization.
3. What is the CMS and hosting setup?
Your contract should spell out the Content Management System and long-term hosting plan for your site.
4. How often and what will you communicate with me about my site after I sign?
Your website designer should commit to keeping you updated on the progress of your website project. At a minimum, you should receive weekly updates and have access to an account manager or web designer to discuss your project at any time during its development. The number one complaint we hear from clients who were disappointed with their previous website designers is that they dropped off the planet after the contract was signed.
5. Who is responsible for providing content, including images?
Make sure you understand who will be providing the content, including imagery, for your website. Do you have enough existing images to cover the new site design, or will you need to schedule photography or use stock imagery? Will the images require manipulation to suit the new design, and if so, who will prepare them? Who is responsible for preparing copy and proofing it once it’s on the site?
6. Can you integrate with my existing systems?
Make sure your website designer understands all of the databases and systems you currently use that will need to integrate with your new website. Does your contract spell out how the site will interface with your other tools and platforms?
7. Will it be responsive on all mobile devices?
Sites today need to be responsive on all of the devices your customers might use, including tablets, phablets and phones. Make sure your contract specifies what devices your site will be optimized to fit.
8. How many sites of this size and type have you done? Am I your biggest/smallest client?
Make sure your website designer’s portfolio includes projects similar in size and scope to yours.
9. What quality control measures do you use?
How much testing will your website designers conduct on your site before it goes live? Will they test it across a range of devices and browsers? Is that spelled out in your contract? It should be tested on all of them, and your contract should specify that.
10. Will I be able to update the site myself? What will I be able to do? Will you show me how to work with it?
It’s very important to understand what you’ll be able to do with your site on your own after the launch. Will you be able to update content easily? Is a blog or news area built into the site, and how easy is it to manage? What analytics will be available to you? Will you be able to monitor your site’s performance and adapt it over the long-term?
11. Do you offer any follow-up support?
You may not plan to do additional marketing after launching your site, but it’s good to know whether it’s there if you need it. Does your web design firm offer follow-up optimization and analytics, or additional digital marketing support such as content creation, email campaigns and PPC? Can you add custom landing pages or other enhancements to your site down the road?
Spell it all out for a seamless website project
We often take on clients who contracted with other web designers only to find there was a major gap in the planning that derailed their projects. Asking these questions up front will help you ensure a smooth project and a website you’re truly happy with over the long term.
Want to get a cutting-edge website design and a hassle-free project? Let’s talk.