9 Things to Look for When Choosing a Web Company
Your website should be a living, breathing, customer-generating machine. It should be the “Hub” of your digital marketing/content strategy, and treated that way when looking at building or re-building your shop’s website.
Choosing a website developer to work with can be daunting task. There are likely hundreds or more in your local market and there are Do-It-Yourself (DIY) outlets such as Weebly or WIX. And there’s always a friend-of-a-friend that “does websites…”
When looking for a Website Development firm, look for these 9 things when considering who to work with.
Breadth of Service
Many web development firms will build a website, launch it, cash your check and wish you luck. So you have the “hub” by having your website completed, but unless you have an internal staff of marketing pros to handle all of the associated “spokes” such as SEO, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media, Video, E-mail, etc. you have nothing but an online brochure.
It is important that the firm that develops your website should also have a plan for what happens post-launch. Who will be responsible for writing copy for the site that takes SEO into account? How will you drive traffic to it? How will the site integrate with your social media? How will contact forms be handled? How often will the site change and who will be the point person on that?
The firm you choose does not have to offer every service needed, but at the very least, they should have 2-3 partners that they work with on an on-going basis to handle them. For example, the last firm I worked with did not handle SEO but we brought their partner into the planning stages prior to building the website, worked with them on the copy and then post-launch as well.
Portfolio of Work
Take a closer look at prior work.
Many web development shops are design boutiques that create beautiful work and really stunning visual sites, but they lack functionality. You may be drawn to them because of their ability to present high-quality images, but be very careful that you don’t wind up with a website that (1) can’t be updated easily, (2) can’t be found on a search engine or (3) doesn’t capture potential customers.
Look for a firm that not only creates professional, visually appealing sites, but also builds them on reputable content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress. The prospective firm should have a clear and demonstrated knowledge of website hosting, DNS, Domain issues, and E-mail configuration as well.
In addition to the 3 above, here are more things to look for:
Ownership of website: Ensure that once the website has been completed, your company owns the website including all code, copy, images, etc. This may mean purchasing the limited rights to stock photography, video, etc., but whether you are hosting the website yourself or not, ensure you own it at the end of the day.
Project Plan: Ask to see a project plan from a previous client that they worked with, or even better, ask that a rough project plan be included in your proposal.
Process: What does their production process look like? Look for a firm that has a discovery phase before building anything.
References: Ask for them and contact them.
The Prospective Company’s Website: I know there is a saying about the Cobbler’s Children’s Shoes but if I’m trusting a web development firm to build my website I want to see that their own website is solid (no broken links, typos, incomplete pages, empty portfolio, etc.)
Do a Google Search: This likely applies to any vendor you work with but a cursory google search on the name of the prospective company is likely to uncover any client satisfaction issues that you should be aware of.
Because a website is so vitally important to any reputable company, choosing the right partner to work with can be a critical business decision. A poorly designed or executed website goes further than just an image problem; losing potential customers because prospects can’t find or don’t like your website can negatively affect your bottom line. Take your time and choose wisely.
Did we miss anything? We would love to hear any tips or advice you have in finding good or strong web partners to work with. Please refrain from posting ads or links to firms you have worked with – we want to focus on other things to look for… or perhaps any red flags to watch out for?