You’ve determined you need to redesign or create an entirely new website for your company. Now comes the hard part: deciding if you have the resources and expertise to handle the project in-house, or taking the project to an agency where they have a staff of people who do this kind of work full-time.
If you choose to go the agency route, make sure you ask the right questions while going through the discovery phase as to who is going to be the right partner to trust with your project.
With that in mind, here’s a handy list of questions to ask to make sure you are getting all of the information you need to help make an informed decision.
1. How long have you been building websites and/or doing digital marketing?
There are many web design agencies to pick from, some of which have been building and marketing websites for several years and some that are just getting started. Make sure you are getting a team that has been evolving with the ever-changing universe of the World Wide Web and that is up-to-date on all of the latest technologies being deployed. Synchronicity, for example, has been in business for 17 years now and our team regularly goes through continuing education to ensure we are at the forefront of where the web is headed.
2. Is Everyone Involved in the Project In-House or do You Freelance out Some of the Work?
You will come across many agencies that are one or two man shows. While there’s nothing wrong with this, the odds are they will be outsourcing a lot of the work on your project. Keeping a project under one roof where everyone involved works full-time for the agency you hired is important from a development, design and communication standpoint. You’ll thank yourself later that you chose not to go the freelance route!
3. What kind of Content Management System (CMS) do you use and will we be able to update the website ourselves?
Most likely, as you go through your agency discovery process, you’ll hear talk about a variety of content management systems (CMS). An open source CMS is usually your best option as they have been developed by a community of developers and the technology used is widely adopted, meaning the CMS is very user-friendly. And as the owner of the site, once it’s complete, you’ll have no problems doing your own updates.
4. Can you show me other sites you’ve done using the same CMS?
Ask to see some of the work the agency has done for other clients with the CMS they are recommending for your project. Have them take you through a demonstration of the backend of a website they’ve built to show you the functionality of the CMS and the ease of use. It’s definitely something you’ll want to have a high comfort level with as it is the engine that will be powering your website. Additionally, ask if the web design agency will provide a Content Management System training session at the end of the project to ensure you're comfortable.
5. Can we talk to other clients you have worked with?
Just like when someone applies for a job, it's most likely their future employer will want to check that person’s references. The same goes for when you are hiring a web design agency. Ask for a list of clients you can talk to, or go on the agency’s website, see who they’ve worked with and then call up those clients. A good agency should be more than open to having you speak with companies they’ve done work for in the past.
6. Besides building our website, can you help us market it?
It’s one thing for an agency to build you a beautiful, user-friendly website, but then what? That’s the equivalent of handing the keys to a new car to someone who doesn’t really know how to drive. At Synchronicity, we like to think of the websites we build as digital marketing platforms. Once built, the website is only as good as how well it’s going to be marketed. Make sure the agency you are going to work with can not only build your website, but can work with you to develop the ongoing digital marketing that is essential to the success of the site you just spent time and money on. Even if you plan on doing the digital marketing piece in-house, it’s always good to retain the services of the agency that built your website for a period of time for consultation to take advantage of their marketing expertise.
7. Do you offer maintenance and hosting plans?
Websites really do require ongoing maintenance. To borrow the car analogy once again, you’d never own a car and not do anything to maintain it. The same goes for your website. Your site may function perfectly one day, and because of a previously undetected virus, not so great the next. Having the agency you hire not only provide regular maintenance services and security scans as well as host the site for you is a good practice.
8. Will we have a dedicated project manager?
The agency you hire should have a project manager dedicated to your project. Period. This person builds timelines, schedules meetings, coordinates feedback, and, essentially, is your main point of contact for everything related to your project. A project manager is a very important piece to the overall success of your project being completed professionally and on-time.
9. How is the pricing of the project determined?
An agency should provide you with a detailed quote which breaks down and outlines the entire scope of the project (including deliverables) based on the discovery they have done with you. More often than not, you should see one fee for the entire project, which is arrived at from the hours the agency has estimated it will take to complete the project from beginning to end. Be sure that the quote you receive includes everything that has been discussed about the project so there are no surprises once the project begins.
10. Will we own all of the design files and code after the project is complete?
This too is very important. When you hire an agency, you are entering into a "work for hire" agreement. The design files and any coding resulting from this work for hire is the property of the client, not the agency. Once a project is complete, be sure the agency is sending you all of the completed files as it’s your property. Just to be sure, make sure this is spelled out in the agreement you sign with the agency.
Need Help Creating Your Website and Digital Marketing Strategy?
With a deep experience creating websites (or marketing platforms as we like to call them!) and activating digital marketing and SEO tactics for businesses and companies nationwide, Synchronicity can help you create a working strategy where you will see results impacting your bottom line.
To learn more about Synchronicity and our web design and digital marketing services, visit our website www.syncdesigns.com or call 866-397-7962 to speak with us directly. Let us help you connect with your customers online!