Let me be upfront with you. I own a company that builds websites; incredible business-generating websites. I meet with a lot of people every single day to discuss their website needs, and I do so for two reasons. The first one is apparent (or should be). I want to make money and grow my business. The second one is maybe less apparent, though just as important to me. I want YOU to make money and grow YOUR business.
Why am I telling you this? It’s because in the course of my day-to-day work, I am often surprised (yes still) by the questions people ask me and more importantly by the questions they don’t ask. I get it. I really do. You aren’t a web designer. That’s why you are hiring one. So why not hire the best one for your needs and your budget?
HERE ARE 5 GREAT QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK THE PERSON DESIGNING YOUR WEBSITE (AND NONE OF THEM ARE ABOUT COST)!
Can you show me your company’s website and your personal portfolio?
They should have one. You should see it. It should be amazing. This should be your first question.
Can you describe the process of our work together building the site?
They should have one. You should know it. It should be amazing and well thought out. You should walk away from your meeting with a clear understanding of exactly what your role will be in building the site and what their role will be.
Can I Meet the Team?
This is important for many reasons. Many companies have in-house teams, many outsource the different components of the work being done, and then some “teams” are really just one-man operations. I’m not saying any of these are better than others, it’s just good for you to know upfront who you’re getting.Obviously, a company with an in-house team is a great option, but those kinds of companies also come at a pretty penny. Companies that outsource the different components of the work to freelancers are more common (and typically more affordable); you just want to make sure the people working on your project have worked together before on projects with the same goals as yours. And if it is a one-man operation, you will want to ask about their track record of meeting deadlines (and possibly even ask to speak to other clients they have worked with).
What, in your opinion as a web development company, is the most important function of a website?
The answer should be pretty straightforward. UsabilityIf their answer is all jargony and technical and doesn’t talk at all about the user experience, then you have the wrong company. Your website isn’t there to serve as a business card. It’s to compel your visitors to take action. Therefore, it must be user-friendly.
Is your CMS open source or proprietary?
HA! This one will get them for sure! And I know it sounds all jargony (and you can Google it later if you want) but it simply means will you or any designer of your choice be able to make changes to YOUR website down the road (open source) or will you be tied to that one designer for the life of your website (proprietary)?
COST IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCERN
I know you might be surprised that I didn’t list cost as a question. Of course you will want to know what they are charging you, but cost has so many factors. More often than not, clients that come to me for custom-designed websites do so after they have already spent money on a template-based website that didn’t meet their needs.
And typically those clients started their business by going with a cheaper website company as they were getting their business off the ground, only to discover they had to redo their website pretty early on in the game.
That’s not to say a $500 template-based website is bad, if it meets your needs. That’s why I said cost isn’t the most important question.
Here’s what you need to remember. Every website development company is different. Your web developer needs to be a professional, someone you can work with, in your budget, and who can meet your needs. Do your homework and choose the right company for you.