“I want a website, but I don’t really know what to ask you…can you help me?”
This is the question we hear the most when talking to people who need a website. This article is designed to help some of you who aren’t sure which questions to ask.
Here are the 10 most important questions to ask:
1. Can I see your portfolio?
First thing to do is see their work. If a web design firm has websites that you like, then you’re off to a good start.
2. What will my fee be after the first year?
Most design firms will charge a fee up front to create the website, and then either a monthly or yearly fee for hosting and maintenance.
Make sure you ask what the estimated cost will be going forward…the initial fee may be reasonable but if you can’t sustain it after that then find something cheaper.
3. Can I update my own website?
If you plan on making updates to your website on a regular basis, then it’s usually a good idea to do it yourself rather than paying your web designer to do it for you. It can really save you a lot of money down the road.
4. How are we going to make conversions?
This is very often overlooked but extremely important. A conversion happens when a visitor comes to your website and does…whatever it is you want them to do.
For our website, when a person contacts us by phone or email that’s a conversion.
So a good answer to this question would be something like:
- We’ll put your phone number at the top of the site so people can easily see it
- We will feature your upcoming events in a “What’s New” rotating slideshow that is visually appealing right on the home page
- We will make sure that we’re pushing people to download your brochure
- We will have your featured products that are on sale on every page so that people can see them no matter where they are in the website
There are just a few ideas, but a good website doesn’t just sit there…it’s a revenue generator. Make sure your web designer understands that and has some ideas on how to make it really work.
5. Can we link my Facebook and Twitter accounts to my website?
For some reason we’ve talked to a couple people who said their web designer wouldn’t do this for them. Or that it would cost a lot of money.
For the record, it takes approximately 20 seconds to link your Facebook or Twitter page to your website.
6. Will my website be Search Engine Friendly?
If a web designer looks at you blankly when you ask this question…run away.
A good response would be something about:
- Using CSS instead of Tables
- Using text instead of images
- HTML valid code
- Good title tags
- Adding keywords to the text in key places
Your site doesn’t necessarily have to be optimized for the search engines, but it should still be search engine friendly. In other words, you may not be on the first page of Google, but at least you’ll get some traffic from Google.
7. Can my website grow if my company grows?
Say your company offers a new product or service. Is your website built in such a way where it can add new buttons without having to redesign the whole thing for a large fee?
Make sure that your website has room to grow.
8. What happens if you disappear?
Everyone’s worst nightmare is that their developer will just leave one day and you won’t be able to access your website.
If this is a concern, just make sure you ask for a backup copy of the website once every few months or something. It’s a legitimate question to ask especially if your web designer is a freelancer. Freelancers are great because of the low cost, but there is risk involved.
9. Are you using a template to design my website?
Some designers use templates when creating a website because it saves them time. Rather than create a unique, custom design they just throw your information into a template.
The problem with templates is that your website may look the same as someone else’s. And that’s not a good thing.
If you know that’s what you’re getting and you’re paying less, then that’s OK. But if you are paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a template, then you’re probably paying too much.
10. Will you give my website a Fresh Look?
Studies show that unless the term “fresh look” actually appears in a companies name…ok just kidding. In all seriousness, there are a lot of good web design firms out there, just make sure you ask the right questions when getting started. Good luck!