Questions to Ask When Picking a Web Design Agency

Laura English

Laura English

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Your website is so important. It’s a massive investment… So the web design agency you choose is too. Your website is the first impression of your business that your customers will see. It’s also your most important marketing tool.

Your website is the first portal for potential customers to make a decision about you and your brand. So, if you’re planning to invest in website design, getting it right is pretty important, because why waste your time or money on something that won’t perform?

Ask your web design agency these questions:

 

1. Who’s working on the project?

A lot of the time when you meet with a web design agency to hash out the details of the website design process, they’ll send their senior, fanciest designer… the guys that know how to talk the talk. Usually though, they’re just the face of the business. While there’re graduates or sometimes, unpaid interns doing the heavy lifting in the background. Make sure to ask about their design and development team; are they qualified or experienced? Are they in-house?

It’s good to know who’ll be completing the project, so you can get a good idea of how it’ll be handled. You’ll also be able to get a good gauge of how the company is run. Who in the web design agency is actually contributing to your project will depend on the scope of your project. So, instead of assuming you’ll have an SEO working on your website and being disappointed later on, you can set expectations early on. You can also ask if any of the work will be outsourced or if it’s all in-house.

Keep in mind, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Outsourcing is kind of a dirty word in the web design and development industry. The truth is, sometimes outsourcing just means that your designer knows their capabilities and one element of your website is better off being completed by someone else. Usually, it’s someone the web design agency trusts too.

Plus, having a smaller team on the job can mean communication will always be clear and timely.

2. What platform will the website be on?

It’s important to think ahead a few years… could your business expand or need an upgrade? Ask which platform or CMS your website will be developed on: WordPress, Magento, Drupal?

Having your website built on an a more complex platform like Drupal might seem like a neat idea right now. But what happens when you need to update products or team members in the future? Updating or upgrading your website in the future will always need a developer’s knowledge. Fully custom websites sound really cool but it ends up pretty expensive and tricky in the long-run.

WordPress and Magento are the two most common Content Management Systems (CMS) with good reason. Magento is the go-to for online stores as it’s an incredibly powerful eCommerce platform. 

WordPress is all about usability and security. It’s easy to update, easy to post on, and easy to install plugins (think things like Google Analytics). It also means you don’t have to call up your web design agency every time you get a new team member or need a blog post uploaded — saving you time and cash.

3. Who owns the website in the end? You or the web design agency?

Another important question in the web design and development process is whose intellectual property the website becomes at the end. Ask them if the domain name and hosting account will be registered in your name or the design agency’s and whether or not it’ll be hosted on their servers?

It’s also crucial to ask the web design agency if there will be a lock in or ongoing contract to keep the site live or functioning.

4. What timeline will the development follow?

It’s good to have an idea of the design and development process from the beginning and you should have at least a rough date for the launch of your website. Keep in mind that this will depend on you too. If your agency needs content that only you can provide and they don’t get it until the day before your launch date… It probably won’t be launching on time. Asking about the timeline gives you insight into their process which can be important to understand… Understanding the website design process can help you align your schedule and know what the web design agency will require from you and when.

This is a good opportunity to ask about the less-fun stuff like what could cause delays and what will happen if a deadline isn’t reached. Like we mentioned just before, if your agency is waiting on content from you and the development is pushed back, then they might not be able to “just slot it in next”. Web development takes weeks so you might have to wait for the other projects that weren’t held up to be developed first. 

5. Can the design agency host your website?

Web design agencies will typically offer web hosting, this is where your website will live once it’s live. You may already have your own web hosting or server but it’s worth asking your agency if they have this capability — it can give your website more security as web design agencies should have stable and safe servers. Having the web design agency host your website on their server also acts as a form of insurance for your website. It means if things ever go wrong; it’s hacked or removed, the web design agency will rectify the problem for you. It can be pretty costly and sometimes tricky asking an agency to fix your website if they aren’t already hosting it. 

6. What about the budget?

One of the most important factors for the client in the website design and development process is obviously the budget. While websites are a positive investment for your business, you don’t want to go broke before you get started and you definitely don’t want to find yourself with a pile of unexpected costs. Discuss the full scope of the project with your web design agency to agree on which services are included, what will cost you extra, and how many revision rounds you’ll be allowed before incurring extra fees.

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