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Before Hiring a Web Design Company…

Before Hiring a Web Design Company…

Web Design and Development is a highly competitive field and it can often be difficult to choose the right web design firm for your project. What that in mind, here are some important questions that you may want to ask your prospective vendor before you engage in a contractual agreement:


How long has your company been in business?

A simple rule of thumb states that the longer a business has been around, the more likely they know what they are doing; however, it depends on your level of comfort. You may be comfortable working with a start-up or you may want a company that has been around for long time. Regardless of who you actually choose to work with, be sure to do due diligence to vet the company thoroughly before signing on the dotted line!

Can you show us samples of previous and existing work?

A good web design & development company should have a strong and varied portfolio and this portfolio should clearly illustrate their capabilities. A few important things to watch for: creativity & uniqueness of design, streamlined and clutter free layouts, designs that are easy to navigate and how well the design ties in to the brand. A “large” portfolio is not necessarily an indicator of capability; the old adage of “quality over quantity” will always apply – so look for quality, rather than quantity!

Can you share customer testimonials with us?

Established web design companies will be more than happy to furnish you with a list of satisfied customers. Most of them will also make this list available on their websites to showcase their capabilities. Companies that are unwilling or unable to provide a list of testimonials should automatically raise a red flag.

How experienced is your team?

A freelancer may cost much less than a professional company. With a professional company, you get

access to a structured approach that signals that the company has spent time and effort into cultivating a team culture:

(a) robust design, development and test processes
(b) access to the knowledge and ability of an entire team of highly qualified individuals
(c) a proper quality assurance mechanism
(d) access to large library of tools and components
(e) the ability to collectively solve problems and brainstorm as a team.

What types of processes and methodologies do you have in place?

A set of well-outlined and formal web design & development processes is a strong indicator that the company has invested time and effort in creating a formal approach to their work. Beware of a web design company that does not have formal processes and methodologies in place. In fact, your selected web design company should take the time to educate you about your roles and responsibilities during the project.

How to you manage your projects?

Regardless of the size or complexity of a given project, the company you select should have a proper project management process in place. Effective communications, project tracking, timeline and milestone management are all essential aspects of professional project management: formal project management process is essential to a successful and timely outcome of your project.

How do you handle change requests?

A formal change management process is important: at some point, your website will require changes or updates. A properly implemented change management mechanism will make sure that the changes are formalized, properly reported, implemented, communicated back to you and thoroughly tested before being rolled into production

What technologies does your company work with?

The answer to this question is critical. Given the ever-evolving nature of technology, companies must make the effort to keep up with the times. A good web

design & development company will be able to work in ASP.NET, ASP, PHP, AJAX and various scripting languages such as JavaScript and VBScript. They should also have significant expertise in database technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server, mySQL, Oracle, Microsoft Access. In terms of design tools, look for names such as Adobe, Microsoft and other recognizable companies that put out serious design & development tools

At the end of the project, who owns the completed work?

If you are spending tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on your website, there is only one acceptable answer. You, as the client will own the website, the code, media and all content. If your website uses components such as a content management system, or a shopping cart system, be sure to find out about the licensing and ownership.

How do you charge for your work?

There are 2 ways for a web design & development company. They can charge you for time, i.e. by the hour, day, week or month. Or they can charge you a fixed amount for your project. In order to set up a fixed cost, the requirements and specifications have to be very clearly laid out. In fact, most web projects can be estimated fairly accurately if a given company has the experience in the industry. If a company is unwilling to give you a fixed cost for a project, it is advisable to be careful…time-based billing can get ridiculously expensive.

 

Comments

  1. Very good summary of some dfiinete harsh truths . I especially liked #3. I often spend extra time on web standards and validation, often going over budget.But regarding #2, I don’t think it’s necessary for the graphic designer to have any HTML coding abilities at all. I work for one of the top web development companies in Canada, and our lead designer doesn’t know a single piece of HTML code. Because of 12 of years of experience designing for the web, he’s learned what can and can’t be done, and what is too complicated to reproduce. I think a print designer needs to just be willing to make progress in his thinking and not insist on living in the past. And I honestly don’t think that basic knowledge of HTML will help him understand about complexities in layouts and graphical possibilities.Excellent article though, thank you.

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