Choosing a web designer should be done with care. It is not uncommon for several web developers to be considered. Comparing proposals is painful, especially when they are all formatted differently. You have to do your due diligence and it takes time away from your core business activities. These twelve questions make it easier to compare web design proposals.
1. What are merits and weaknesses of each proposed platform?
There are three general platform categories. You choose between a static HTML site, an open source CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress or a proprietary CMS like Adobe's Business Catalyst. Ask good questions during the interview process and make notes that are useful for the proposal review.
2. How many web pages are covered in the proposal?
My clients do not like unexpected charges. When considering a web proposal, be sure to verify how many pages of content are included. One proposal might cover the entire content of your current site while another might only cover a home page and five inner pages.
3. Who writes my new content?
Even if your web person is highly capable, do not assume they are going to write new content for you. Clarify this point so you do not end up with an extra bill you did not expect or work you are not prepared to do.
4. Who optimizes my pages for SEO?
You might be buying a platform that is capable of being optimized. But that is not the same as the work actually being done. "On page optimization" is less important than it used to be. But there are some pieces that still matter to SEO professionals. Understand this distinction when reviewing a proposal.
5. What are my hosting costs?
This is easily compared between proposals. Do not, however, assume hosting costs will all be the same. Monthly charges can vary greatly. Don't forget to ask about redundancy and how your site will be hosted.
6. How many users are covered with my hosting package?
Building and launching a website is just the beginning. Managing and editing your site is an ongoing effort that may require several people. Many of my clients prefer to have someone else make simple updates. They want to stay focused on their core business activities.
There are several aspects to a website that frequently need to be managed with different levels of permission. Some people might need access to make simple page edits. However, it might not be appropriate for them to see or edit sensitive information. Consider also the consequences of human error. A few harmless typos are one thing. Blowing up your navigation or deleting entire sections is quite another. Consider the number of people who might need access and their appropriate permission levels when assessing your hosting needs.
7. What kind of support can I expect?
You might not be able to quantify this aspect. But get a general description of what can be expected before choosing your web developer.
8. How will my site display on different mobile devices?
Before asking this question you need to have an idea about how the mobile experience fits in your marketing plan. Modern websites now display better on smart phones, but you might need a more finely tuned mobile site. What do you want users to see on mobile, and with how much effort? What actions do you want them to easily take? When you have some degree of clarity about your objectives, you can then ask more meaningful questions.
9. What automation can be achieved with respect to collecting email addresses?
Most of my clients use email marketing on some level. One key function of their website is collecting email addresses. Life will be easier for you if your site automatically loads those addresses into a list connected with your ESP (email service provider). It is a bonus if you also get an alert when someone subscribes.
10. What happens if the web developer disappears or discontinues web support services?
You need to know that your website hosting package and support will not suffer if your web provider ceases to exist. Is a contingency plan required?
11. What pieces can be easily "bolted on?"
It may well be there are things you want your site to do that you simply cannot afford just yet. Make a prioritized list of things your site needs to be able to do in the future. Make sure each of those things can be added at a later date without a major overhaul.
12. What type of provider is best is best suited to me, my way of communicating and operating?
While the first eleven questions makes it easier for you to review and compare web development proposals, it is equally important to quantify the differences between prospective vendors. Once you have considered those differences and similarities, remember, price is not the only factor. The people you work with make a big difference. Pay attention to the chemistry and communication habits of each vendor you interview. There is a great deal of value in a quality relationship and it is a factor that contributes to your success. It is not just about the what, it is also about who is best to collaborate with and support you.
Steve Smart is Owner of 2QSolutions. Contact him today to benefit from his professional marketing support and learn how you can benefit from his extensive experience and knowledge. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.