What questions should you ask a web design agency when you’re in need of a new website or a re-design?
Don’t be afraid to question a web design agency, it’s important that you qualify their fit for your business and ensure that you are happy they will be able to deliver. Make sure you do your research, as you are reading this article it’s likely that you are but this is vital in making an informed decision. However, do remember that whilst knowledge is power, these are the experts and turning a qualifying process into an interrogation won’t set your working relationship off very well.
How much experience do you have? (not how long have you been in business for – these are two VERY different questions)
Many companies can be in businesses for multiple years with simply 1 website designer, 1 website developer and 1 business developer/sales person. While this is of course not a problem – this does not qualify their expertise, as it’s possible they may only create a few websites a year (depending on how much they charge).
Instead, ask the web design agency how much experience they have. Quantify this by further asking what types of projects and how many have they worked on? Have they worked with any companies you may know? This doesn’t mean they HAVE to reel off nationwide brands, but perhaps they’ll mention a local business you have heard of before. Many clients have asked us this question and if they don’t, it’s certainly information we like to offer up! We’ve always found letting clients know of other companies we have completed website design in Bournemouth for, helps set the tone of trust.
What kind of websites have you designed? (ask for a variety in design and complexity)
Seeing previous website designs a web design agency has created is imperative when making your decision on who to commission to bring your website to life. This will give you a good understanding of their capabilities and design skills. Try to ask to see a wide range of styles and complexity as possible, from corporate to extremely quirky and bespoke designs. This will give you an idea of the types of clients they have worked with before and the budget’s they have handled previously.
It is important to remember however that the more interactive features and design elements a website has, the slower it may load. So take this into consideration when reviewing their examples as good website design agencies will ensure they get the balance right. If you would like to know more on how a website design can affect website speed, we recommend taking a look at our article on how to increase your website speed which goes into more detail on this.
Ask for a portfolio pack
Touching on the above, a web design agency will most likely have a ‘portfolio pack’ as they will regularly be asked for example work. This will usually come with some case studies on the work completed and will typically be their ‘best’ work to show case. We will still highly recommend Point 2 in asking for a wide range, as this will usually mean the web design agency will have to dig into their back catalogue which will give you a much clearer understanding of the overall work they complete as opposed to the work they want you to see.
What results did these websites bring for the business?
This is extremely important when speaking with any web design agency. Whilst they may be able to create visually stunning websites that look the part, how did they actually perform when put live? Many clients focus far too much on the look of a website as opposed to how the website functions, what we mean by this is:
- Is its purpose clearly portrayed?
- Is it user friendly?
- Does it tell your visitors exactly what you do straight away?
- Does it entice you to make an action and chronologically take you through the website to the ultimate goal of converting into a real lead or paying customer?
A good web design agency won’t lose sight of the whole purpose of designing websites. If done correctly, a website is a powerful marketing tool that can grow businesses to uncapped heights. Just look at Amazon as an example, an entirely online based e-commerce store that’s market cap topped $1 trillion in 2018!
How will your design help me reach my business goal?
The question that underpins it all – if it won’t help you reach your business goal, then it’s not for you. Now, with this question don’t expect a definitive concrete plan that is destined for greatness, it’s likely that this is your first conversation with the web design agency and questions like this need research to be answered properly. However, a good web design agency should be able to advise on methods they could implement (providing further research proves they fit your business model) that will make up a multi-channelled overall strategy when executed correctly to give you the best chance of success.
Timeframe (How long will it take to complete)
Whilst a great website design takes time and should not be rushed, it’s always important to understand a guideline of how long the website design process will take from start to finish. As an example, if the web design agency advises that due to your specific requests it will take 4 weeks, then be sure to try and probe further about how they came to that timeframe. Ask the following:
- Can we agree milestones for the project? A date you will be working towards for a design concept, a development start and end date? A QA/Testing date? A go live date? This will really help to ensure both you and the web design agency stay on track.
- Is there any reason why this could be delayed further? This is important as you will likely want to start thinking about getting the word out there about your new website, doing some self-promotion, slipping the topic into conversation with others, on forums and social media etc. A missed go-live date can really hinder a business’s growth right from the start as that initial buzz can be the driving force for continued momentum, resulting in a ‘snow ball’ affect.
What will you need from me at each step of the process? A clear understanding of what is required of you by the web design agency will help for a much smoother process. Also, at this point be sure to make your web design agency know of any up-coming holidays you have or any busy parts in your schedule where you won’t be contactable, this will avoid wasting both parties time.
How many revisions would you be willing to make? Design & development
Get peace of mind that in the worst case scenario you are not going to be stuck with a design or website you do not want. It’s important that you’re happy. As a web design agency it is there job to advise you and in some situations strongly advise however at the end of the day this is your website and you are paying for it so you need to be happy.
Each web design agency will have their own rules on this, we personally offer unlimited revisions to ensure 100% satisfaction. However, some website companies may differ which is why it’s important that you ask upfront before it’s too late. Be sure to get specifics on both the design and development parts of the process and not just one or the other.
A web design agency should be confident in their ability, and as part of the process by asking the right questions about your business, your customers, your market and your likes and dislikes they should not need unlimited revisions. Which is all the more reason they should offer this, with confidence in their ability this should be aimed at providing you as the client peace of mind that you will be perfectly happy with the end-result.
How does the process work?
This question should become part of the natural flow of the conversation with any web design agency that want to make you feel at ease and ensure you understand exactly how they work. Most web design agencies will work to a very similar process. However, for companies that work with smaller budget websites they may not focus so much energy on some of the real important parts of the website and just look to provide you with a ‘good looking website’ that you will be happy with. Asking the question ‘How does the process work?’ will really give you an in-depth view into exactly how much time and planning will go into your web design. At the very minimum the process should involve the following:
During initial deciding phase:
- An initial consultation to discuss your requirements
- Research into your target market and business/industry
- A quote/proposal and outline of how the website design will aid your goals
Once you have progressed with your desired web design agency:
- A planning phase
- Design concept phase (including agreed revision count)
- Development phase (including agreed revision phase)
- QA/Testing phase
- Deployment of live site
This is a very basic process however most web design agencies should be going into much more depth within each of these areas, including content writing. This may cost additional as keyword research will likely be required to include the best ranking terms and provide you the best head start in the search results as possible
How close can I work with your company?
A sure fire way to work out how big the web design agency really is that you will be working with. Are they SO big that you may just end up being another ‘number’ to them? Perhaps they are a small, more personable web design agency but still with sufficient resources to execute the job perfectly. Or perhaps they may be somewhere in the middle as a small medium enterprise. Either way, you want to make sure you get the best fit, and ideally wherever possible meet the person that will be working on your website design, or at least meet the team! After all there is nothing like building repour and a working relationship like being able to put a face to a name and have an in-person chat!
Some companies will only offer to work with clients remotely as they find meetings in the office can disturb the working environment, perhaps they don’t have a separate meeting area, or they are working on projects with Non-Disclosure Agreements. They may however offer to meet somewhere local to you, a local coffee shop. Some web design agencies will offer to accommodate an initial meeting in their office to get to know you but will ask that the remainder of the contact is remote based. Whilst there are also some companies that allow you to work directly with the website designer and website developer at each review period. At our Bournemouth web design office, we like to meet our clients at least twice but more where possible – one initial meeting, one completion meeting and a meeting in the middle through the review periods.
Is SEO included? If so, to what level?
Search engine optimisation is a really crucial part of any website design. I’m sure you will have noticed through-out this guide, but the most important part of any website is measuring the results and ensuring that you’re on track to achieving your goals – whatever they may be. Now you may be thinking, well isn’t SEO more of a marketing method? Whilst it’s true that it can fall under the category of marketing, if you really think about it that’s exactly what a website really is, a marketing tool. It’s why as a full-service web design agency we refer to ourselves as a digital marketing specialists, because we cover it all.
SEO can be split into multiple different areas, however the easiest way to look at this is ‘On-page SEO’ and ‘Off-page SEO’. Whilst your website is designed and developed it’s important to know what level of on-page SEO is being carried out. Are your page titles and meta descriptions being completed as best possible? Will they assign a keyword or key phrase you would like to rank for that best describes what the page is about, to each page? Will they then ensure that they use the right keyword density %? If they are writing the content for you will they write the content using enough transition words, using the appropriate amount of passive and active voices? Will they complete internal links?
These are all very important parts of your website that can determine the success of your business. These factors, whilst there are many more, really can be the difference between ranking well on the search results, or having virtually 0.00% visibility.
Other questions you could ask your web design agency
- How much will it cost?
- Will I own my own website?
- Is it built on an open-source platform or a bespoke CMS only your company can use?
- Is there a monthly fee?
- Does it come with a domain name?
- Will my website be responsive for mobiles, tablets and laptops as well as desktops?
- Are you a full-service agency? Do you do digital marketing or just website design?
- How are your websites built? With a custom design or pre-made template?
- Have you built websites in my industry before? Conflict of interest?
- Do you analyse my business, market and competitors?
- Who will be working on my website, is it outsourced? Is it the person I speak to, or is it someone else?
- How many pages will I get with my website?
- Do you create logo’s too?
- Do I need to provide images or will you do that?
- Do you offer e-commerce services?
- Will you host my website? If so where will it be hosted?
- Will my current website experience any downtime?
- Is social media integrated as part of the project?
- Is on-going maintenance something you offer?
- Do you provide reports on how well the website is doing once it’s gone live?
- Will I have access to my website statistics without relying on asking you?