How to choose a website development company: Top 10 questions to ask a website development company

By October 1, 2015Blog

Hello!

Codey's first dayMy name is Codey and I’m the super talented chimp here at mediachimps.

I consider myself the best of the bunch when it comes to advising business owners about websites, and no, I don’t just hang around and eat bananas!

You probably don’t know a lot about websites and it can be a difficult subject to get your head around. You know all that techy speak and coding that you have been subjected to in the past? You can leave all of that to me. When it comes to websites, I like to talk in a language that you can understand.

Many business owners have had bad experiences with web designers and website development companies and we literally go bananas over this! Whether we design and develop your website or not, I’ve made it my responsibility to make sure that you never have a bad experience ever again.

If this is your first time engaging with a web development company, or if you have been there before, we hope that this resource will help you to:

  • Ask the right questions
  • Feel confident engaging with web development companies
  • Feel empowered to make your own decision about what’s best for your business

In general, I want to help you make the best decision possible for your business website, and this usually comes down to asking your proposed website development company the right questions.

Top 10 questions to ask a website development company

Let’s face it, your website should be a sales machine and your shop window. It’s therefore important to get it right and showcase your business in the best possible way.

Many people think that once their website is done they can walk away. Here at mediachimps, we believe your website has a life of its own and needs consistent attention. You should view your website as a mirror image of your business and one that needs to be worked at and developed over time. In short, as your business evolves and develops so should your website.

If you are new to the world of websites, you can use these questions to help you make a more informed choice when it comes to choosing a developer.

Here’s what to ask…

1. Can I see examples of your work?

Any web designer worth a bunch of prized bananas should show you examples of their work, in particular examples in a similar price range and industry to you. This seems like a no-brainer, but you have to like their work or otherwise you might end up not liking your own website. If you don’t like what they’re doing, then my advice is to look elsewhere. You can also ask to speak to their clients and find out if they were happy with the process and the end result.

2. What happens if I don’t like the initial design? How many rounds of amends can we go through?

You need to find out right from the start what happens if you don’t like the initial designs and how many rounds of amends are included. Basically find out what you are entitled to. Hopefully, if you have seen examples of their work and agreed on a similar design, all should be sweet. At the briefing stage, you can discuss with your designer what fonts, images and colours you like.

Every successful web design project starts off with a great plan, so make sure you are happy with the process for planning the project.

3. How much will it cost for my website?

I know that a major part of the decision making process when choosing a website development company is around the costs involved.

Any ape with common sense knows to get a price in advance and find out exactly what you are getting for that cost.

Unfortunately a lot of website development companies make this far more complicated that it needs to be.

Therefore, it’s useful to have this conversation early on in the process so that you know what to expect with regards to your allocated budget.

In most cases, the total cost will be based on how complicated your website is going to be, if there will be eCommerce elements, how much time and resource will be allocated, the design, etc. Sometimes it can take weeks to get a quote and to understand exactly what the costs will be.

I know that you don’t have time for that and that you want to know what to expect early on.

You’ll be pleased to know that times are changing. The more progressive and forward thinking website development companies are now providing clear and transparent prices for websites based on an ongoing monthly management service so that you know exactly what to expect from the start.

All that being said, the more informed you are about costings the better, and if you want a really simple website the costs should be a lot lower than a more complex website that takes more time and skill to craft.

The best advice I can give you is to address this early on, and a potential red flag is any avoidance of addressing costs and pricing.

4. What timescales do you work to and can we agree a completion date?

Although I do like to laze around and hang out from time to time, I know I can’t slack on a deadline. My point is that you should always agree timescales before any work is started from the initial concept, design and build of the website. Always get a completion date in your head, so you know what timescales you and the designer are working to. Remember any extra amends may set your website back slightly in terms of launching it, so build in additional time for this.

5. Who is looking after my project and who is doing the technical work?

I wouldn’t just let any ape look after a mediachimps website, and neither should you! I think a lot can be said for getting to know who you are going to be working with.

Afterall, trust is one of the major factors in making any buying decision, and we know that trust is built over time.

Fortunately technology makes this really easy for everyone these days and my advice is to schedule a video call with your website developer.

Also, it’s worth asking around to see if any of your contacts know anything about your proposed website developer.

6. Do I need to supply copy and content for my website?

Did you know that 70% of the buying decisions are made online before your prospects even talk to anyone in your company? Content for your website is a crucial part of the whole project. Take your time to plan your copy and really think about your customers and what you are going to write. A good website is one that communicates its content effectively, just google ‘what is content marketing’ and you will be surprised. Blogs are a great way to communicate with your customers and answer their questions, it also helps with SEO.

Some web design companies will be able to write copy for you, but again make sure you agree all this in advance. You should also ask yourself “who is the best person to write the copy for my business?”

In short, you will have to supply content for your website, so there is another job that needs to be done. If you do decide that you will do this yourself, or in-house, please make sure that the project timescales fit in with your own schedule to get the content complete.

7. What platform will my website be built on?

Here at mediachimps, our website development system is Prime-8 which is based on the most popular platform world wide…. WordPress. We are nuts about WordPress and so that’s all we use. For you, WordPress is really easy to use and you can update minor changes yourself – even a baby ape can do it! Again, always check what platform your website will be built on and find out how easy it is to make changes. You want to be able to make changes yourself quite easily without the help of a web developer.

You may find that people call this platform a CMS, or a Content Management System.

8. Can I make changes easily myself in the future?

As mentioned above, you will want to be able to make quick copy changes yourself without the help of your web designer. Some web design companies make you pay for making small changes, so again find this out first. I would recommend being able to make the changes yourself, however here at mediachimps I’m happy to do this for you!

9. Will my website be mobile responsive?

I don’t know about you, but I always use my phone to go on the internet. Make sure that you’re new website is mobile responsive. Not having a mobile responsive website could lose you business.

To be totally honest, this should be a default service for web development companies now and I wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of friction. But ask the question to make sure.

10. Will my domain name and hosting account be registered in my name?

You might need to know this at a later date when you want to change your website or move developer. Always check who your domain name registrations and hosting accounts are signed to – be it yourself or your web design company.

As your business grows and develops things will change so it’s always good to prepare for the future.

So there you have it, now you know what to ask when you are engaging with a web development company.

The best general advice I can give you is to be as educated as you can about websites. Too many times have we heard the horror stories, and the time has come to make sure business owners never have to go through these problems.

Please visit my other blog articles, which are all geared towards helping you to understand websites and make sure you have a great experience and relationship with your web developer.

Your turn

  1. What questions do you have about website development?
  2. Do you have any frustrations with your current website?

Let me know what’s on your mind in the comments section below.

Until next time, hang tight!

Codey

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