- What is your process and timeline?
Know the plan before you start. How long will it take for them to get you a site design idea? How much time is built into the project for approvals and feedback? When will the site launch? What happens if things are delayed?
- Who is doing the work and who my contact person?
If you’re hiring a freelancer, it is likely this will be the same person. If you’re hiring a web design business, you may have a main source of contact that isn’t directly handling your website build. There are pros and cons to each. With freelancers, you’re likely to get a faster turnaround time on answers to your questions, but you’re also more likely to get the technical jargon that could get confusing. With web design businesses, your contact person will have the ability to translate all that jargon into meaningful information, it just may take an extra few hours or a day to get a response to your questions.
- Can I see examples of your work?
Any web developer worth his/her salt will have an online portfolio with references. When you look through these examples, look for things that show their experience in areas that your business needs. If you’re looking to build an online shop, look for sites with e-commerce capabilities. If you’re looking for an online portfolio, be sure they’ve done that kind of work before.
- What about content?
Web Chameleon sums it up best: focusing on the design and forgetting about content is a costly mistake. Not only can content changes dramatically alter the initial website design, but it can hinder the site’s launch by days or months. Will the web developer create content for you or are you responsible for content?
- How much?
Know your costs up front, and know how those costs might change. A small business should expect to spend at least $1,000 for a good website. Depending on the level of customization and features needed, these costs can go into the tens of thousands. Get a detailed estimate and scope of work, then be sure to ask what could cause those costs to go up. Excessive content changes and last-minute alterations can cost you, so be sure to make a plan and stick to it when possible.
- Who will make content updates after the site launches?
Some developers prefer to handle all content updates and others prefer to build self-sustaining sites that they hand off to their clients. Be sure you know the expectations before you start. How much will you need to know? Will they train you? What happens if something breaks after you make content updates?
- Are Google products included?
Google offers a wealth of free products to enhance your website, with the top two being Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Analytics is a tracking code installed on the site that reports all sorts of data on visitors, including how they found your site. Webmaster Tools allows developers to test and submit sites to Google for indexing, which will help with search engine optimization. Does the web developer do this as part of every development project, or is this an add-on service?
- Are your sites responsive?
Modern websites are built with multiple screen sizes in mind. This makes Google happy (read about Mobilegeddon here), and also makes mobile phone users happy. If the web developer doesn’t automatically design with responsive wireframes, they are woefully behind the times.
- Is there a warranty or service arrangement?
Websites require ongoing maintenance. Be sure to ask what will be included in this initial project cost. What if something breaks shortly after launch? What if something breaks after I touch it? What if something breaks after I let another person touch it?
- How will my site behave in the future?
Is the site going to grow with your business or are you expected to rebuild and redesign in order to grow? What happens if I decide I want to add a blog or social media? Getting answers to potential additions in the future will help you gauge how flexible and attentive the web developer will be to your growing needs.
Cube Creative Design has 10 years experience and a wealth of examples across multiple media platforms.