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10 Questions to Ask Your Web Design Firm

May 14th, 2013

What to ask your web designer

We have the pleasure of meeting regularly with all different types of businesses to discuss their website design. Often times, business owners express some confusion in comparing website design and development proposals from one web design firm to another. What should be like comparing apples to apples often times becomes a comparison of apples, to orange, to pineapples. No two agencies are alike so the type of proposal, quality of work, and website features you’re going to see on your proposals will vary tremendously. Here’s a quick list of the top 10 questions we recommend asking as you interview web design firms to find the right fit for your needs.

1) Does your company build custom designed websites, or do you start from design templates and themes?
A custom website will be uniquely designed for your business, product or service. You can rest assured knowing that your website belongs to you alone. Whereas, a website designed from a template is limited to the copyright laws within the template on what a designer can and cannot change or alter. And, it is currently being sold to and utilized by thousands of other businesses in existence. A template may be slightly cheaper initially, but will it serve the needs of your unique business?

2) Will you design a website for my content, or will you develop a website shell that I’ll need to fill in?
Some web design firms will choose to build a website shell then have the client fill in all of the content on their own time. However, this can be like designing a website while wearing a blindfold. How can a website be designed without knowing how the design should function to support your content? Your content is king as it supports your business, your website should be one with your content.

3) Do you build websites that have an editing system that I can use to edit my website? Will you train me on how to use it?
With options like WordPress and Drupal (content editing systems), most web design firms should offer an option to allow clients to edit their websites for text, graphics, adding new pages, etc. Unless you do not have the time or design to edit your website, this will be a beneficial and crucial feature to add to any website. And, you should hire a firm that will take the time to train you on how to edit the website.

4) Will my website be mobile-friendly?
The average website receives 18% – 25% of its traffic from tablets and smart phones. That percentage is slated to go up to 30% by the end of 2013. When designing or redesigning a new website, it’s crucial to consider how your website will look on mobile. If it doesn’t render well or scale down, your viewers will get bored or annoyed and leave your website.

5) Will you be using Responsive Website Design?
This is a great question to ask and see if the web firm is staying up on the latest technology and website coding trends. We believe responsive website design is the best option currently available for web design because it allows you to fit your website to most device,s while not costing as much as a full mobile website. Read more about Responsive Website Design. Check out our recent blog post on Responsive Website Design.

6) What initial measures will you take to optimize my website for Google and other Search Engines?
Some web design firms will offer their own unique cocktail on how to best position and market your website. If you’re interested in getting increased traffic to your website, it’s worth asking the firms you interview what internet marketing services they provide.

7) How long will my website take to create?
This will depend on several factors for all firms. First, what is your deadline that you would like to meet? How quickly do you plan to provide website content (text and images) to the firm? How large will your website need to be? Depending on your features, timing, and providing assets, many things can have a factor in the website turn around time. Most professionals will say 60 – 90 days from when they receive website content. Half of that time is used for design and the other half is used for coding.

8) Who will be my point person throughout the process?
It’s good to know ahead of time who will be your point of contact throughout the website design process and to meet them. You need to know that you can communicate well with this person and have a good gut feeling about the team before you hire them. Make it clear what type of communication you prefer whether it be by phone, meetings or e-mails so they know the best way to get in touch with you.

9) What is your website design process?
Try to find out in your initial meeting how they go about building a website. Each firm will vary, but it will give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the process. 

10) Can you provide me with a list of up to 10 websites you have designed and coded?
Some website design firms don’t update their website portfolio on a regular basis. This makes it really important for you to ask for links to websites they’ve worked on so you can see the work they’ve crafted for other businesses. You should also consider asking how the websites added value and how they benefited the businesses they were designed for. If the firm you are considering to hire does not have their own website, or can not provide you at least 10 links to website they’ve designed and developed, you should consider that as being a red flag.

Overall, designing a new website is both a rewarding and fun experience. You should enjoy the process as there’s nothing better than seeing a new website go live online. Ok, maybe a few things like Christmas but it’s a good feeling. Good luck with your process and feel free to contact us about your website needs.