1. What do they charge for their services?

Question To Ask Your Web DesignerYou should expect to pay for a professional service as well as a professional product. The cost for web design should be relative to the experience and expertise of the design and development team, as well as the time it takes to provide a quality product. The amount you choose to spend on a website will ultimately depend on the value you place in your brand and its online presence.

  • Which of their team members will be working on your project, and what are their roles?
  • Do they provide a flat fee for your project?
  • Does the cost of the project match up with their deliverables and hourly rates?
  • How do they handle additional services outside of the project scope?
  • Does their pricing match their experience and the quality of their work?

2. What core services do they offer?

A company that is capable of handling all aspects of your project, from start to finish, is going to be a better choice than outsourcing to multiple companies or individuals. A well established company with a large array of services will be not only more cost effective and time effective, but will have more experience in making sure everything functions properly together.

  • Do they have the ability to provide comprehensive web design, development and marketing services to industry standards?
  • Do they have experience developing mobile applications?
  • Do they have experience developing ecommerce solutions?
  • Do they have copywriting abilities to create both compelling copy for the website itself as well as quality content for the social web?
  • Do they have the resources to provide successful Search Engine Optimization and other online marketing?

3. Do they custom design their websites?

Our opinion is that a quality website needs to be custom designed to suit the needs and image of your company. If cost is an issue, a template based website will suffice, but we believe that money spent on a custom website that is unique to you and your business is well worth the investment.

  • Do they custom design every site they create?
  • How many custom websites have they designed?
  • Do their designs look current, modern, and well crafted?

4. What kind of Content Management Systems do they use?

A content management system (CMS) is a web-based interface that allows the administrator (you) to easily update and manage your website without having to access the coding directly. We highly recommend using some of the highly successful and widely supported 3rd party systems, such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla. Some web design firms will suggest using their custom-built CMS’s, but this can limit the expansion of your site in the future, as you will be dependent on that company to manage any changes moving forward.

  • Do they use a well supported and widely used CMS, such as WordPress?
  • Do they use widely used and well supported ecommerce platforms, such as X-Cart?
  • Do the websites built on a CMS look unique, custom, and professional?
  • Are they able to fully utilize the complex functionalities of these CMS’s?

5. How do they manage their projects?

A quality web design firm will have a team of skilled professionals working on your project. An important aspect of every project is management, ensuring that things are done correctly, accurately, and on time.

  • Will you have a specific contact who will work with you through every step of the project?
  • Will you have a specific project manager who will ensure that your project is well tended to and completed on time?
  • Do they use a project management system to manage tasks and milestones, and are you given access to it?
  • Do they provide an estimated timeline with a completion date?

6. Do they follow current design trends, web standards and practices, and conform to the W3C list of standards?

Your web design firm should be familiar with HTML and CSS standards set forth by the W3 Consortium (W3C) and know how to test for syntax errors, cross-browser validation and future compatibility. This is important because your website visitors use different browsers (Explorer, Firefox, etc.) and different platforms (Mac, Windows, etc.) to view your site, and you want to ensure that your site displays and functions the same way for everyone.

  • Does their coding conform to W3C standards?
  • Do they test your website for cross browser compatibility before launching?
  • Do they run detailed tests on your site to validate your site before launching?
  • Do they stay focus on building and designing current and modern websites?

7. Do they consider search engine optimization and visibility when coding your website?

Coding is an important part of any Search Engine Optimization campaign. A quality web design firm should account for this when building your website, even if you are not currently engaged in an SEO campaign. You may choose to market your website in the future, and an improperly coded site might mean more work in the future.

  • Are they familiar with and comfortable coding websites for SEO?
  • Do they provide additional services for advanced SEO coding?
  • Do they run detailed tests on your site to validate your site before launching?

8. Do they have an impressive portfolio of work?

Every web design firm should be able to provide a portfolio of their work, and most will make it a highlight of their own website. Look for quality sites and designs that impress you, or are similar and/or in line with the type of website you are looking for. A large portfolio will indicate a firm that is experienced and will be around for a long time.

  • Does their portfolio provide examples of work that you find appealing and impressive?
  • Does their portfolio indicate they have a lot of experience?
  • Is their portfolio kept current and updated?

9. Who owns my website once it is completed?

Make sure that you are truly buying a website design, and not renting one. There are many web design firms that will custom build a website for you, but will require the site be hosted on their servers, locking you into an ongoing relationship with them to keep your website live and properly functioning. We recommend hiring a firm that will charge you a one time fee to build your site, and then deliver you the completed site once the project is completed.

  • Will you own the domain name, hosting account, and the website design once the project is completed?
  • Will you receive ALL source files for your website once the project is completed?
  • Will you receive access to your hosting account, server, and backend admin once the site is completed?
  • Will you be charged any ongoing fees once the project is completed?

10. Do they provide post-launch services and on-going maintenance?

You can plan on needing additional work done on your website at some point, either to maintain the site as technologies and browsers change, or to update the content on your site as your company changes. Ensure that your chosen web design firm will be available to provide any additional work on your site when needed.

  • Do they offer on-going maintenance services, or retainer services?
  • Are they willing and available to take on new projects when you need them done?
  • How do they bill small updates and changes?