Once you’ve decided that your small business needs to hire a 3rd party to help design and build your new website, how will you know which web designer or marketing agency is the best fit for your unique needs?
Whether you work with us or not, we really want you to find the best partner for your website redesign, so we’ve put together a list of 10 questions that will help you filter through your vendor options.
What services does your company need from a website designer?
Before you approach a website designer or marketing agency to request a quote, you need to take time and clarify what your needs are and what goals you have for the project. It may be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never had to create a website for your business before, but this first step is perhaps the most important.
Setting goals and clarifying your expectations for the website will help with finding the best partner for your project, as well as improving your ROI.
Focus on your core goals. Do you want to generate more phone calls from your website to your business? Would a successful website simply be the most affordable option that increases credibility for your business? Do you expect the web designer to be available to help maintain the website after it launches?
Depending on what your business needs, you’ll want to refine your search for a web designer based on specific criteria to block out irrelevant options, and determining the services that you’ll require helps with that.
How much are you planning to spend on your website redesign?
This may seem obvious, but one of the first questions you should answer with your leadership team is how much you are prepared to spend on a website.
You’ll also need to take into consideration the service that you’re expecting, because it will greatly influences price.
You could build a website in-house for less than a few hundred dollars, or you could spend $80,000 for a top notch marketing agency that spends 3 months researching and putting together a go to market strategy in addition to your website’s redesign.
From what we’ve seen, there are a few ranges you might plan for, each providing different value for the price. These are not one size fits all, though, so pick which is closest to your budget and it should help your search.
Less than $1,000 your options are all DIY with Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.
For $1,000 to $3,000, you could get a website built by a student or freelancer on a WordPress theme with content you provide.
The next step up could be between $3,000 – $10,000. At this price tier you can usually find web designers who are more experienced, who will customize your website to fit your needs. Also in this category you could find high value overseas options, that provide more services for your money than a domestic vendor.
Seadev operates like this. Our CEO, along with our designers, developers, and project managers are in Vietnam.
In addition to that team, we have a team in the US that serves clients in Charlotte, Harrisonburg, and Los Angeles. The US team helps clients figure out the best marketing solutions for their individual business.
Beyond the $10,000 mark for websites, you’ll find a wide range of larger marketing agencies that usually provide high level of market research, go to market strategies, and other services, which depending on your needs, could be your best choice.
For most small businesses that are growing, we believe that web designers in the $3,000 – $10,000 range offer the best value, since you are usually getting additional support after the launch of the website.
How much will the total cost of the project be and are there any hidden fees?
While most people don’t enjoy talking about money, you need to understand how much a web designer is actually going to cost. We recommend that you get on the phone with your potential vendors and ask directly how much in total you’ll be paying. It also may be helpful to ask for the average cost of their completed projects, to see if there is a difference in what they are initially quoting.
What will the web designer or marketing agency provide you for the price you pay?
Following on the heels of the previous question, understanding what you get for what you will pay is one of the most important questions to ask if you want to be satisfied at the end of your project.
You may be surprised by extra services that are included in the price you pay that you weren’t anticipating. Sometimes these will be helpful, like hosting, but other times you may be paying for a list of services you never asked for.
One issue we’ve heard of is a small business asking a web designer to design a website, then at the end of the process, the business owner found out that they have only paid for a design, but not for the design to be brought to life through development!
At the end of the day, you want to be sure that you are getting everything you want, but not more than you need.
How long will it take to design, develop, and launch the website?
This is a very important question to ask your web design agency. Timelines vary, depending on the vendor you choose, but expect for the process to take more than a few weeks.
Small businesses usually don’t have the manpower to have someone internal who is dedicated to pushing the website build ahead. This would mean that someone would have the added responsibility of providing feedback to the website designer, which may take a back seat to other responsibilities. Scenarios like this are fairly common, and cause website launch timelines to lengthen.
When you decide on a developer to help with your small business website, be sure to ask both how long they expect your project to take until completion, but also how long the average project takes to complete.
Between an average timeline, and your estimate, you should be able to plan accordingly.
What happens if you need to make significant changes to your website?
Businesses are growing constantly and you need either the skills to adapt your website, or a partner who makes sense for your long term plans. Different marketing agencies and web designers provide different services.
You may find one vendor who builds an affordable website, but then after it launches, charges you everytime you need assistance with a change.
Others might make content related changes free of charge, but will charge for integrations or custom features that need to be built.
Seadev, for example provides tiers of service that make it clear to our clients how much “future work” they’ve paid for.
To learn more about this, feel free to contact us.
What does their client portfolio look like?
Who are their past clients. Do they serve particular industries more often than others? Does this particular web design agency focus on B2C or B2B?
Asking this question will help you have a better understanding of the caliber of clients they have served over time. To take this a step further, we encourage you to look at the finished websites from their past clients. This will show you the styles, themes, animations, integrations, and other capabilities of the web designer and developers.
Pretty much anyone can put together a decent website that serves as a digital business card, but it takes more skill and experience to build custom features and integrate 3rd party tools well.
Is any part of the website design or development process outsourced?
If the answer to this is yes, don’t worry, but ask more questions. Start with why.
There are a lot of fantastic developers and designers located throughout the world, and while your business may be in Charlotte, NC, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need someone from immediate vicinity to build your website.
If you’re wanting to get value for money, there are web designers like Seadev. We have a team in the US, so you can connect with someone in your time zone, but we also have a team in Vietnam that builds the website. This can be a great middle ground if you’re open to it.
We believe that any company who outsources major parts of the project should be transparent about this from the start, but not all are, so you should ask!
What control or ownership do you have as a client over the code?
Unfortunately, not everyone reads the fine print of contracts, and several of our clients have come to us asking for a “new website” that is basically a redesign of their existing website.
Some of those clients were in situations where they were unable to make changes to the code of their own website without paying the developer additional amounts.
Why do some web designers do this? Reasons vary, but it could be as simple as ensuring payment for services, or being greedy about potential upsell opportunities in the future.
You need to ask and ensure that the vendor that you are considering has a policy that you understand and approve of.
Seadev requires both full payment of the project to be made and 18 months of service to be completed before you fully own your code. Our contracts are for 18 months, including the time to build the website, but after launch, we host and maintain websites through that 18 month period of time. After that, the website is totally yours to do with as you please.
If you’re considering working with us, and have concerns about why we would structure our contracts like this, we’re happy to go into more detail.
Where will you host the website and what CMS is used?
This is not necessarily the last question you should ask, but it’s important.
Understanding hosting and CMS platforms may not be fun, but it can save you a headache in the future when your website suddenly goes down, or you need to make content changes.
Like many, we use WordPress for our CMS, unless a client requires something specific. For hosting, you’ll want to ensure it’s “always up” and that you have a good content delivery network, ensuring your website loads quickly everywhere a customer might access it.
Have additional questions?
The 10 questions above are not comprehensive, but they are very important. We go over these and many more with our clients, but not all web designers are equal, so at the end of the day, do your homework.
If you have more questions, give us a call or send us an email!