It can be intimidating shopping for a web design firm these days. There are tons of firms some in the U.S. and some overseas. What truly is the difference?
There are eight important factors to consider when deciding on which web design firm best meets your needs.
Is location important? Yes, and no. If you are going with a reputable web design firm then location is not an issue. They can do all the work and interface with you via email and phone. If you are really on a tight budget you may want to go with a large firm that has a reputation for turning out simple websites at very economical prices. Be leery of the web developer who will build you a website for $299. You may be contemplating outsourcing the work to India or Russia to save money. While programmers from these areas may be a good resource you often have to be much more adept at project management to relate to them and to get the job done on time and the way you want it.
How much should you spend for a 5 – 10 page simple website? The investment you make in your web presence will pay for itself 10 fold. If you have the budget to pay $2 – $3000 do it. You will get a more professional looking website and more attention will be paid on the message. At this price you will most likely get some basic on site SEO included such as populating the META title and description tags.
Keep this in mind when shopping for price. Make sure you have good specs to send to the design firms so that you can compare apples to apples. This will help to figure out who is giving you the best price and value. Be careful not to go with the lowest bid as it will most likely be a freelancer with little or no reputation to maintain. Freelancers may get the project done but when it comes to maintaining your website they may be overwhelmed with other projects and it may take a long time to get your site updated. This can be very frustrating.
3. Acceptable Terms?
How much should you pay and when? It is customary in the web design industry to pay 50% to start the project and 50% upon completion. On larger projects the terms may be structured like 50% – 35% – 15% or something like that so that there are progress points in the project. This ensures that you, the customer are getting progress and the web design firm gets cash flow to fund the project.
4. How long should a project take?
In web design this is a two part equation. I have been involved in many projects that I had completed the entire project but was still waiting on content from the client. The more prepared the client is the faster the project can go. A simple 5 – 10 page website should take 30 – 45 days maximum. E commerce sites may need 90 – 120 days depending on how complicated they are. Ask your perspective web design firms what their current pipeline looks like and can they easily complete the project within that time frame. If there are hard deadlines you will need to communicate that and get it in the agreement.
Should you host with your web design firm. Yes, if you feel comfortable with your web design firm. Having your site on their servers can be an advantage in that they know those servers and can quickly help on your behalf should a problem arise. If you prefer to host on your own then I would find a reputable host to put your site on. Be sure to run the hosting specs by your web design firm prior to signing up. Be sure not to go with the lowest cost solution. Often times you get what you pay for. If you are going to have an eCommerce website you will want to seek the advice of your web design firm before acquiring hosting. E commerce sites can be resource hogs and budget hosts can exhaust those resources very quickly leaving you with a site that is down or you paying a lot more to upgrade your account.
6. Graphic Design
Request to view work examples from their portfolio so that you can see what type of work they produce. Once you identify some work samples from their portfolio you may want to ask if that same designer can work on your account. That way you are sure to get a similar style. Graphic design is important because it is what creates your online reputation and how others perceive you. It can make you look like a much larger business than you actually are. Poor design can make you look like you don’t care much about your business and can often make the difference between a customer choosing your business over another.