You’ve decided your small business website needs an overhaul. You’ve checked out dozens of web design companies and browsed the portfolios of each. Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a small list, though, don’t just sign on with the first company to get back in touch with you. From your first contact, continue evaluating the company and its approach to the web design process. Some simple steps will help you find an effective, professional web design firm.
— How knowledgeable is the company’s salesperson? An effective company is filled with employees who can explain products and basic questions without asking higher-ups for confirmation. If you have more complex questions, the sales team should know where to look or who to ask to get you the information quickly and concisely. If your primary contact seems uninterested or ignorant of the process, it may be a sign to look elsewhere for your design needs.
— Can the company meet your needs? As this is your company’s website at stake, you need to have definite ideas of what you want out of the timeline, budget, subsequent design tweaks, support and more. If you haven’t worked out these factors, take some time to solidify your plans before reaching out to other firms. If the design company isn’t forthcoming about whether they can meet your requests, move to the next company. However, if a design firm tells you they can’t meet your demands and then explains why they’re unrealistic while offering an alternative solution, work something out.
— Who are the people doing the work? The design process can be incredibly demanding, but it should be collaborative and cooperative. If the design staff are all telecommuting part-time contractors, it may be difficult to coordinate schedules to meet your needs. However, a core team in the area can help align schedules and lead the team to meet your needs. Get to know those who may be developing your website. Are they the right team for the job?
— Who owns the work? This is an important question in today’s world of digital rights management and copyright. If you decide to sever ties with the design company, will you be locked out of your website’s management and coding? Do you own the rights to your own website’s design? Another important question to ask in the development phase is whether you will have access to the content management system, or if all tweaks and changes have to go through the designer. Clarity from the start can save you some serious headaches in the future.
Once you have asked all the right questions (and discussed the fine print with your design firm) get ready for the excitement and creativity of the design process. With the right team, your website will be up and running for the world to see in no time. A good design team will ask what your goals are before talking about colors and layout. Find a company that will base their decisions around your needs while giving you valuable insight into the design process.