Are you considering hiring a web design agency to redesign your website or to bring a new vision to life? If so, you may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of vetting a potential web design partner.
Perhaps you’ve been disappointed in the past or this is all new to you. Either way, it’s not uncommon to feel like you don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t even know where to start.
Here are 12 important questions to ask before hiring a web design agency:
1. Are you able to provide examples of websites designed by your company?
Check out the portfolio of a web design company to see if they have the design chops to create something on par with what you want. Do you like the style and aesthetic of their clients’ websites? Is there a diverse range of looks, or do all of the sites look similar? Snoop around and see if their designs are easy to navigate and function well. You want to join the ranks of happy, satisfied customers.
2. What feedback can you give me about my current website?
If you have an existing website, ask what they think of it. Don’t expect an in-depth audit or free consultation; but they should be confident enough to provide their professional opinion about some aspect of your website during your conversation. Listen with an open mind for evidence of an informed, knowledgeable, and experienced point of view.
3. Will my website be custom?
If you’re going to hire a web design agency for a professional website, find out if your design will be custom or built from a template. If you want to stand out and make a strong impression with your site, your best bet is to invest in custom web design, not a cookie cutter site that looks like everyone else’s. If what you want is a custom-designed site, you’ll feel confined by the limitations of a semi-custom format and likely disappointed with the final product.
4. Do you handle development in-house?
Many people confuse the role of a web designer and a web developer. A web designer doesn’t necessarily do web development and vice versa. So when you hire a web design agency, there’s always a chance they are outsourcing development work to another company, rather than doing the work in-house. If the company outsources development, you are could lose some control over quality and timeline.
5. Who will be working on my project?
It’s also helpful to know if the agency will be outsourcing other aspects of your website project. Will you be working with one person or a team, and what is their experience? You don’t want to be wowed by web designs in their portfolio only to find out you won’t have any access to talent equal to what attracted you to the agency in the first place. Also, you’ll want to know who your point of contact is and how you will be interacting with the team.
6. What is the design process and timeline?
An experienced web design agency should be able to provide an estimated timeline and some insight into their design process. Before you get started, you should know what will be expected of you and what you should expect from them.
7. How is price determined?
Some web design agencies charge by the project, some by the hour, and some use a combination in their pricing structure. You should have a mutual clear understanding of the scope of the project, estimated time allotment, estimated cost, and how you will handle overages. Ask about their track record for projects staying within budget, and what causes a project to go over budget.
8. What design elements will be included?
Don’t make the assumption that brand consultation, custom graphics, logos, and other imagery are automatically part of your website design. The branding process typically occurs separate from or in addition to web design. You may also need to budget for logo design, custom graphics, and stock images necessary for your final website design. It’s important to sort out any confusion over design elements before you get started.
9. What can you tell me about the standards and practices you follow in your designs?
The web design and development company you choose to hire should be up to speed on the latest design trends and web development standards. You want a fresh modern look and feel. And it’s critical for your website to be responsive, secure, and work on all browsers and platforms.
10. What marketing elements will be incorporated into my website?
Websites that are nothing more than a fancy digital brochure should be a thing of the past. Your web design agency should be knowledgeable enough about online marketing to advise you on how to ensure your site is search engine friendly. They should also know how to make sure your site is compatible with your overall marketing strategy and optimized for conversions.
11. Will I own the final design, and will I be able to make updates to it?
You should own the rights to your own website, design elements, domain, and hosting. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous web design agencies employ sketchy practices to make clients dependent on them. You should always maintain full ownership and control of your company’s website and never let an agency hold you hostage.
12. What other services do you offer?
While it’s not necessary for the web design and development agency to continue providing maintenance after your site goes live, it’s good to know if this is a service they offer in advance. Once you’ve grown a relationship with the team, you may want the option to stay on board for support.
Some excellent agencies specialize solely in design and/or development. Others provide additional services, such as branding, copywriting, marketing strategy and support, systems design and support, and more. Your web design project could be the beginning of longerterm relationship with a company that can help your business grow.
We’d be happy to answer these questions for you, if you give us a shout!