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Top 10 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Website Development Company

Maybe you’re a new business, a brick-and-mortar making the jump online, or an online business looking for a website upgrade.  The reason behind your journey may differ, but you all seek the same thing:  a reliable, knowledgeable, and efficient website development company that can help your forge a successful online business.

With so many fish in the sea, you can’t go off and hire just anybody – you need to know what each agency can offer you and your business.  So we’ve put together a list of the top 10 questions you should ask before hiring a website development company.  And unlike most other lists, we’ve put the reasons as to why you should ask and what you’ll learn from these questions.

1. May I review your portfolio?

Why you should ask:  The reason is two-fold.  First, you want to make sure that the agency you’re hiring has sound experience in website development.  The last thing you want is to serve as a guinea pig.  Second, you want to distinguish the breadth of their website development experience.

What you’ll learn:  By reviewing potential website development companies’ portfolios, you’ll gain an immediate understanding of their quality, abilities, and overall experiences.  More importantly, you’ll find out their range of skills.  A niche developer might have in-depth industry knowledge, but they’ll often create cookie-cutter designs and lack the adaptability and creativity that broad developers have.  These broader developers can pull from experience to offer best practices from a range of industries and build very unique website designs.  The choice is yours, but broader is often better.

2.  What will you do to understand our industry/business?

Why you should ask:  A website is the future of your business and an extension of your brand.  If an agency is going to create a website to uphold this, it better know you inside and out.

What you’ll learn:  Any exceptional website development company will spend significant time consulting with your business and researching your objectives.  They should make this clear in their initial interaction with you.  At LeapGo, we set up personalized calls, research your business, customers, and competitors, and brainstorm ideas about your website before we even begin thinking about design.

3.  Do you consider SEO during the website development?  Can you help drive traffic to my new website?

Why you should ask:  Because you feel like you have to, but what you really want to do is dig deeper into their SEO plans.

What you’ll learn:  Every single website development company will say ‘yes’ to both questions, but it’s the information after the ‘yes’ that matters most.  You have to find out the company’s stance on SEO and avoid falling for cheesy sayings, like “we’ll make your site SEO-friendly”.  What does that really mean?  Are they setting up the basics or are they diving in to your new website to analyze and improve the little things?  Put some pressure on the company for specific answers and you’ll get all the info you need.

4.  Who will be our main point of contact?

Why you should ask:  To get insight into the organization and process of the company.

What you’ll learn:  You want a website development company that has its act together.  By asking this question you’re identifying the company’s core process and getting a glimpse into their organization.  If they don’t know who the contact point will be or give too many options, confusion will reign and the project will hit roadblocks.  If they assign you a proper project manager to manage your website development, then you can trust they’re on top of their game.

5.  What are your thoughts on a mobile-friendly website?

Why you should ask:  Despite its small screen, mobile is the future.  Tablets are too.  It’s important to know how a website development company assesses these platforms.

What you’ll learn:  A website development company should be able to give suggestions for a mobile strategy – whether it’s to create a completely separate mobile website or equip your primary website with responsive web design (so it morphs depending on screen size).  An agency should also give you tips on fixing issues that penalize your mobile search results and offer advice on your mobile content strategy.  They better know this, because if they’re unaware of the future of mobile, then how will your business be ready?

6.  How do your price your services?  How much is dedicated to strategy?  What else is included in the price?

Why you should ask:  You’re paying a significant sum of money, so make sure you’re investing in what you need.

What you’ll learn:  You want a website development company that goes above and beyond the standard line items (like headers, product images, number of pages, etc.).  What you want to see is a company that devotes quality time to consulting, strategy development, content development, and other thought-provoking tasks.  In order to get the best website, you need a company that takes the time to create a comprehensive strategy, build compelling content, and encourage ideas – these are the elements that make a website truly shine.

7.  How do you handle change orders and additions to the scope of a project?

Why you should ask:  Regardless of how well you define the project scope, you’re bound to need a change here or there.  Knowing upfront how a company deals with this will save you time, money, and headaches.

What you’ll learn:  There is no right or wrong here.  Some companies have policies that are strict (e.g. two changes allowed for free, then a charge per change after) while other companies are more flexible because they know how projects evolve (e.g. any changes can be made as long as they stay within the agreed upon hours).  The most important thing is to know how change orders are handled before you sign a contract.  This way you’ll be ready for them when they come and know what to expect.

8.  How do you measure success?

Why you should ask:  You and your agency need to agree upon success before the project begins so you both know how it should end.

What you’ll learn:  Success means so many different things to so many people.  If simply finishing the job is success, then does that agency really care about the final product?  You want a website development company that works together with you to establish proper benchmarks.  Remember, success is not ticking all the boxes, it is the results you see during and after your website launch.  At LeapGo, we identify areas for success through our research and conversations and with you, then agree upon specific benchmarks, and make sure everyone is on the same page.  Making your website effective is a bigger sign of success than simply making the project complete.

9.  What kind of post-project support do you offer?

Why you should ask:  No matter how much you prep, plan and test, there are always some things you just won’t notice until after launch – it’s inevitable.  So how are these issues handled?

What you’ll learn:  The post-project support occurs after final sign-off of the website.  But just because the website is complete, doesn’t mean that issues won’t arise.  Can you depend on that website development agency to resolve those issues?  Or are you on your own?  There are no wrong answers here, but getting an answer will help you plan accordingly.  Most agencies should at least fix issues that are of their own doing, but the best agencies will offer post-project support that goes above and beyond the norm.  These website development companies care about your business and know that your success is their success.

10.  Will I own all the final website content and accounts?

Why you should ask:  Because your business is your business – not theirs!  After sign-off, everything should be in your name, meaning all content and accounts.

What you’ll learn:  Don’t let bad agencies get away with poor judgment or easy money.  All content on your website (including coding, copy, images, and videos) should be owned by you.  In fact, the law states that the owner of a website is responsible for all information displayed.  We’ve heard too many horror stories where companies got slammed with unexpected fees later.  More importantly, all software and social media accounts should be in your name – not the agency’s name!  Any high-quality website development company will contractually agree to ensure all content and accounts are yours to keep.

Do you have a different question that should go in the top 10?  Please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!