What You Should Ask A Potential Web Design Company

Your website is how you present your company or organization to the world. It’s what most people who are interested in your firm will see when they look you up. So naturally, it’s very important to make sure that your site, your window to the world, looks good and works as intended. That’s where web design and development firms come in. But choosing a good one can be a bit tricky as well.

To increase your web project’s chances of success, you should leave as little up to chance as possible and ask potential web design companies a series of questions. It’s true that the majority of companies explain most of what you need to know on their website. But when in doubt, ask. It’s better to ask too many unnecessary questions up front than to ask too little and get confronted with nasty surprises when it’s already too late.

Without further ado, here are some essential questions you’ll have to find out the answer to before you sign a contract:

How much will the site cost and what will I get?

This is clearly the most obvious question you’ll need answered and this is usually what the negotiation process leading up to the company’s issuing of a website proposal is for. If there’s still any uncertainty about the price or the included services and you’re being asked to sign a contract, don’t sign it!

Does the website include hosting, maintenance, domain name registration, SEO, etc?

Specific questions such as these should be covered in the website proposal. Again, if they are not and if there’s any uncertainty whatsoever, ask before signing anything.

How will I add content to the site?

Looking great is just one aspect of a site. Chances are that you or your colleagues are going to be adding a lot of content to it in the coming years. Unless you’re a coding expert, you’ll want a CMS (content management system) like Drupal, Joomla or a custom-built one in place.

Does the company have an attractive portfolio and/or references?

Most design and development companies have a section dedicated to this on their website. Still, it never hurts to ask about specific examples and references that are relevant to your own project. You may also want to contact a client of the company and ask about their experiences.

Is it likely that the firm will stay in business for a long time?

Obviously, you shouldn’t ask the question like this – ask how long they’ve been in business or how much experience they have. It’s important to know though, because you want to make sure that the company is still going to be around when you need something from then like support or tweaks to the design.

Where is the company from?

Hiring a local design firm is not absolutely necessary, but it does help. Talking to a representative face-to-face can make things much easier if you’re not technologically inclined. Furthermore, hiring a company on the other side of the world can (but doesn’t have to) cause a lot of problems, the least of which being the time zone differences.

Do you see yourself working together well with this company?

Creating a good website takes some time and will likely involve a good deal of sending messages back and forth to the designer/developer to discuss the project. When it’s finished, you’ll have to deal with him or her when you need support, especially if they’ll also be hosting and maintaining your site. Given that you’ll be working with these people for a long time to come, it’s important that you get along.

Who owns the completed website?

Some companies retain the rights to your website even after you’ve paid for it. Needless to say, this can result in high fees or legal battles if you ever decide to end your contract. Make sure you own the rights to your own site!

There are of course more things you should know before signing a contract. But if you’ve found out the answers to all of the above and you’re satisfied with them, it’s very likely that you’ll work well together and the project will be successful. Feel free to post additional essential questions in the comments.

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