These days, for most business owners, having a website is a crucial element in their business toolbox. But where do you start if you don’t have a website and aren’t au fait with web technology?
The chances are that you’ll have to use a web design company to get your business website off the ground. Here are 10 questions to ask the web design company, to get you started.
1. Can I see some other sites you have made?
An established web design company will have numerous previous projects to show off. Designers tend to have their own style so it is worth seeing if your taste matches theirs. Don’t be afraid to ask “Have you ever made a website like this?”.
2. Have you worked in my business sector before?
Different business sectors can operate differently and the approach to marketing your company needs to reflect this. If a web design company has operated in your sector this may make it easier to get the best approach the first time.
3. Will my new site be optimal for Google search result listings?
If someone tells you that your site will immediately appear at the top of Google search results for a meaningful keyword, they are lying. This can take some time and specific search engine optimisation (SEO) work.
A new website should incorporate certain elements such as meta tags and heading tags, which help Google to see your site in the best light.
4. Who will own the files for my website and can I get a copy on request?
Some companies can be very reluctant to provide files or file access details to customers as they do not want their work copied or they are afraid you may go elsewhere. It is better to go with a company which does not place these restrictions upon you.
5. Are there any useful features bundled in the package?
Many companies will include bundled software such as visitor statistics, Content Management Systems (CMS), customer service tickets and clip-art. These features may be useful to you now or in the future.
6. What is the charge for updating the information in the website?
Most web designers charge an administrative fee to update information in a website. This can be in the range of £30 to £100 per item. Some companies will make minor alterations, free of charge if there is an ongoing contract.
7. What technologies do you use for programming and graphics?
There are many different technologies which can be used to design websites. The choice of language is almost a religious one. No one is necessarily better than another, but your supplier should talk knowledgeably and have experience in many aspects of programming and design.
8. Will you use a ready-made template or create a new design?
There are a huge number of ready-made designs out there. This makes the web design process much faster and cheaper. The problem comes if the template is used on another site, as they will look the same. Some templates can be purchased as unique so only one company has this look.
9. What is the cost of hosting per year and am I free to use another hosting company?
Most web design companies will sell you hosting for your site with the design. This can make it easier to manage but unnecessary tie-ins should be avoided.
10. Will we be able to move providers at any time or will we be tied in for a period of time?
Once your site is live you may wish to move. It is good security to know that this is possible.
Members of the Forum can download a free guide to briefing a web designer.
About the author
Martin Saunders runs MS Internet, an expert website design & development company. MS Internet gives a friendly, personal service and offers design, programming, e-commerce, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain name registration services.