If you are reading this, then it’s likely that the question of which web design agency to choose has at some point crossed your mind or maybe is still nudging in your head.
But not to worry, as at times all you need is a list and deep breathing to reach to an answer 😉
So, let’s start by taking a deep breath!
Here we go!
Let’s take you through this simple common website questions list that can get you thinking and push you a lot closer to helping you find the perfect web design agency.
Discover Your Needs
1. Think about your visitors (target audience, customer type, buyer persona, etc)
2. Understand your needs, goals, and objectives. Why do you need a website or website redesign? What are you looking to get out of it?
3. Be straightforward with your needs.
4. Make your expectations clear.
A precise list would surely be appreciated 😀
5. Ensure they are patient with understanding your needs.
6. Be sure that their strategies align with your business.
7. They should know your business.
Discover the Possibilities
8. Do your own research. Start with what you know and expand into online searches and asking friends for recommendations.
9. Shortlist the agencies that appear in local searches.
10. Check their online presence including social media profiles. Are they active and engaged or do they appear to be out of business?
11. Start with checking out the award-winning firms so you can have a benchmark to compare other agencies against.
12. Plan how to engage with them, including:
13. Submit your initial queries.
14. Note their response time.
15. Choose a technology or software. Since there are lots of choices, ask the creative agencies what they recommend.
16. Have a look at their setup, if possible. Try and get a tour of the office! Do the employees appear happy and engaged or stressed out and disengaged?
17. Keep your website administrator in the loop.
18. Shortlist the top three agencies by considering their activity online, their response time, and the overall vibe you get from the company
19. Check their core competencies. Do they align with your needs? Does the agency have proof of said competencies?
20. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with a firm, check their work regularly. Verify that the agency is on the same page with your vision.
21. Fix a budget. Stick to it.
22. Confirm if the agency can stick to your budget while providing everything you want and need.
23. Ask for detailed proposal documents to have a written reference you can refer to when you’re comparing multiple vendors.
24. Ensure you understand each line of the proposal.
25. Ensure it states that you will have the Copyright.
Yup, that diligently! 😉
26. Clarify any ambiguous or unclear statements. These may come back to haunt you!
27. When do you need the site by? Set a timeframe and ensure the agency can meet your deadlines.
28. Ask what they need from you (besides money!). Be sure to be aware of what your involvement in the project is. Are you responsible for migrating website content and SEO?
29. Get your team involved! Ask who from your team can work with them.
30. Ask for the full range of their services.
Cost Estimates & Proposals
31. Check if they are proactive in regard to providing meaningful suggestions and solutions vs personal-pocket-filling solutions.
32. Ask for a detailed quote with some suggested additional options. You may never know what useful and amazing options the professionals and specialists may suggest to take your online presence to the next level.
33. Check out pricing for complete web design packages.
34. Check if they will perform a FREE audit your current site. Top agencies will do this for you.
35. After you have received the quote, try negotiating. It never hurts to ask!
36. Compare their cheapest and most costly websites.
37. Ask if internet marketing is part of the package.
38. Analyze their pricing structure in comparison to other vendors and your budget.
39. Point out the fees you do not understand and ask for further clarifications.
40. Check if they need a deposit. Most web projects require an initial 35% or 50% of total project costs to be paid up front to begin the works.
41. Ask about a return on investment guarantee. What does this include?
42. Check their refund policy.
43. The upfront cost should not be too extravagant. If it is, maybe you can chunk the project into “phases” to be completed at a lower cost over an extended period of time.
Avoid being shocked by keeping a tab of what are you being charged for. 😉
44. Ask for presentations, if needed. So you can convince your managers to proceed with the project.
Additional Options & Add ons
45. See if they also help with internet marketing.
46. Check if they understand your marketing message.
Timelines & Deadlines
47. Check if they handle many projects at once and what’s the current number of projects they have. Hopefully, yours won’t get lost in the mix!
48. Check their availability. Will they be able to produce your project in time?
49. Ensure they prioritize your website.
50. Ask if they are comfortable with deadlines.
51. Ask them the time they will spend for each task.
52. Check if they are time flexible. Have a 9-5 business and can only meet in the evenings? In this day and age, it is important to partner with a vendor that accommodates your schedule.
53. Try and fix a work schedule, if possible.
Free Trials & Demos
54. Check if they offer demonstrations.
55. See if their websites are easy-to-use.
56. Ask if they can show you the basics.
Process & Methodology
57. Analyze their strategy and web development methodology. Are there any pieces that seem to be missing?
58. Clearly, understand their methods.
59. Fix a single mode of communication. Decide whether you will communicate via email or another method.
60. Have frequent discussions. We like to have bi-weekly calls, or at the bare minimum, emails, to keep in touch and provide updates.
61. They ask your approval for changes and to move forth with the project. Some common milestones include design approval and website launch.
62. Ask them to show you their creative process.
References, Testimonials & Case Studies
63. Find out their work ethic. References and testimonials are a great place to start.
64. Check their track record. Is it excellent or mediocre?
65. Check their most successful projects. What is the agency’s most brag-worthy project?
66. Ask for examples, samples, and references!
67. See if they’ve exceeded previous clients expectations.
68. Try and speak to their previous clients. Reach out on social media if you have to.
69. Inquire about their performance under pressure. Do they lack in communication?
70. Don’t ignore references. You wouldn’t hire someone to help out with your biz without finding out a bit about the person first, would ya?
71. Look for reviews and testimonials. In this day and age of referrals as currency, client love is a must. If there is nothing good said about the agency online, one might consider a different agency.
Team & Organizational Structure
72. Identify the main people handling the project.
73. Check if they assign project managers.
74. Ask about other points of contact.
75. Find out which industries they specialize in.
76. Confirm the number of people working on your account.
77. Ensure the team is not too big.
78. How is their track record? Check the number of sites they launched last year.
79. Choose someone with experience in your market and industries.
Culture & Vibe
80. See if they impart valuable ideas. Ask them how you can boost your online presence with a website? How to capture leads with a website? How to grow your online presence?
81. Set up a meeting. See if they’ll come to your location to get a feel for your business.
82. See if you get along with them. What’s the vibe? Organized? Disorganized? Friendly? Rushed?
83. Ensure the employees are well-qualified. Have a chat with some of them if you get a chance.
84. Do they take your suggestions or just ignore them? Sometimes agency-knows-best-syndrome kicks in, and they start building the site they dream of for you, instead of the site you dream of for you.
85. Check their knowledge of latest web design techniques.
86. Ask them if they have attended any recent conferences.
87. Ask if they host websites. If so, what would be the cost of this?
88. Ask if they will help you select a URL or domain name. Will they register it for you?
89. Ask about security features. Are they included in the quote? Some things to think about include SSL Certificate, Malware protection, and backups.
90. Ask about various browser compatibilities. The site should function optimally on a variety of the latest browsers.
91. Ask if the website will be backed up.
92. Ask if they use anti-hacking software to protect your files and information while they’re building your site.
93. Ensure the information you share with them remains private, such as if they will share logins or passwords.
94. Check if they use web analytics. Ideally, these could be installed on your site for convenience. If not, make sure you get access!
Content Management System
95. Check if any changes can be made easily and in-house (by you or your team) or if every change requires the webmaster’s involvement. Ask them what kind of changes would involve the webmaster?
96. Inquire about their favourite CMS (content management system). Ask them why they chose X over X?
97. Check if their designs are really making a difference. Examine previously launched projects and see how those companies are doing online.
98. See if it reflects your brand. If it does not, there is something wrong!!!
99. Check if they are able to redesign your current site.
100. See if their design provides great UX. Try out the experience yourself on some of the older projects they’ve launched.
101. Check the different types of websites they have designed.
102. Specify the colors to be used.
103. Ask them for wireframes.
104. Check the experience level of designers.
105. Inquire about responsive web designs.
106. Ask them if their web designs help in conversions.
107. They must allow you to choose your own theme.
108. Check if their themes have social share buttons.
109. If you need it, ensure the theme includes a shopping cart feature.
110. Check if they also custom-design sites from scratch or use templates?
111. The design must adhere to website standards.
Features & Functionality
112. Make sure the new site has search engine optimization capability.
113. Ask if they follow best practices. If so, which ones?
114. Ask about third party applications that they use.
115. Ask if the website will be scalable and grow with your business.
116. Inquire about any additional website features or functionalities that they think would be useful for your online presence.
117. Check how many pages will be on the final website. Is this number limited? Are you able to add additional pages?
118. See if the website will have flash elements. If so, please take yourself in the opposite direction ASAP.
119. Ensure the site has a blog or forum.
120. Let the agency know what content will be part of the new website.
121. Check who will be responsible for content migration and development.
122. Ask if you will own the content.
123. Ask if they offer training or some sort of user manual to become a pro at maintaining the site.
124. Confirm the method they use for handover. Do they have a history of launching sites without any signs or notifications to the clients? Or do they involve the clients in a training session to get them familiar with the site?
125. Make sure they offer training and site administrator hand off.
Post Launch & Support
126. Ask about their support ticketing system.
127. Check how fast they deal with support tickets and errors.
Wouldn’t want to hear this later.
128. Check their online support services including response time.
129. Check if they help you measure success. How do they? Do they offer monthly or quarterly analysis reports?
130. Check if they provide free consultations post launch.
131. Check how you can work together to upkeep the website. Do they offer subscription based website maintenance and optimization plans?
132. Inquire about after care support. Will they leave you hanging without a response if you’re not subscribed to a support plan?
133. Ask if they will provide future upgrades at a discounted rate.
Big Picture Thoughts & General Tips
134. Confirm if they are working for your direct competitors.
135. Ask what mistakes have they made during web projects and how they avoid the same mistakes.
136. Review their response rate. Did they answer the phone when you called or did they respond to your email a week later?
137. Check if their answers are accurate and to the point or are vague and hazy.
138. Share your honest opinion on their work.
139. Check the accessibility of ongoing work. Ask if they will be showing your incomplete project to others. If this is not allowed, be sure to tell them.
140. Check if the website supports multiple languages.
141. Ensure that they are patient with you. In return, ensure that you are patient with them.
142. Ensure reports are submitted on time.
143. Check their static pages.
144. Test their skill level.
145. Give them ‘tough love’, if necessary.
146. Always have a ‘Plan B’. A perfect example of this is to build a simple landing page to begin developing your online presence and capturing leads while the main site is finalized.
147. Remember, less is not always the best. (Especially in regards to pricing… you know what I am saying? Your niece can do your website for $150…)
148. Take your time. Let the agency take its time (within reason). As I’m sure you’re familiar with the adage, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
149. Go with your ‘gut feeling’. If it feels like a funeral, it probably is.
150. If satisfied with the project overall, try and maintain a good rapport with the owners. You could even be so kind as to leave an online review of them on Google or on social media.