Unless you can afford an in-house designer, the likelihood is you will need to outsource building (or refreshing) your website to a web designer/ agency.
Here are the top 7 questions I would ask web designers pitching for your business to make sure you get the best possible person for the job.
1. Can I see your portfolio?
An established designer should really already have this on their website for you to review. If they don’t you must ask for it before going any further with them.
A lot of designers can talk a good game, but have little to back it up. Designers also have a personal style, which may or may not fit in with your brand.
Looking over their past work will help to establish if they are right for you.
2. Who will own the completed work?
This may sound odd, but you must be clear from the start as to who has the copyright on the final product. Obviously you want this to be you!
Additionally, if you are having a brand new website created, make sure the domain name is registered in your name, and not theirs.
Also ask where your website will be hosted and if there are any costs involved with this.
3. Will you install analytics for me?
Installing analytics is such an easy job they really should include it for you as part of the service. It will literally take them 5 minutes to do, just make sure it is your account they are using and not their own.
If they try to charge you any money, go somewhere else.
4. Will there be any on-going support?
You are not a designer or a developer, and there will be times over your website’s lifetime that problems will arise.
Unless you have a basic understanding of HTML/ CSS and any server side language they use, you’ll need help if this does happen.
5. How many revisions are included?
Unless you are a whizz at writing creative briefs, or you and the designer magically hit it off, there is a good chance the initial designs will not be 100% what you want.
In fact it is likely it will take some time to nail the design exactly to how you want it.
Naturally the designer will not want an open ended project, so you’ll need to know at what stage they will start charging for more revisions before you get there.
6. How will I maintain my website?
If you want your website to remain up to date and evolve, you’ll need to be able to add new content, pages images and more.
How your designer intends to build the website will determine how easy this is for you to do yourself.
If they code it using HTML/ CSS you’ll have to go in to the files and edit that yourself, or ask them to do it, which will incur on-going charges.
If they build it using a Content Management System (CMS), you will be able to edit and add content as well as new pages from a web interface, without having to edit any code.
7. How much will it cost & how long will it take?
These are the two big questions, and once you have given them all the information they need, should be your final questions before proceeding.
The whole “how long is a piece of string” is not a valid answer. You are a business entering in to a commercial agreement, which means there should be a clear start and end date, and an agreed payment schedule.
I would personally ask for a breakdown of each milestone and when they intend to reach them.
I would also make payments based on these milestones being completed, or pay in instalments at the start, half way through and once the project is complete.