Whether you’re building a new website or redesigning an existing one, you’re about to embark on a significant undertaking. Between the many moving parts of a website project and the sheer necessity of having a strong online presence for your business, it’s wise to ask a few questions that will help you choose and trust your website developer.
1. What is your process?
The last thing you want in a website design project is a “let’s see where it goes” approach. Hiring a developer or agency that does not have a specific process for website development can lead to delays, budget overruns, and disappointing results—and if you have to ask, that might be a red flag in itself. Anyone who produces websites for a living will typically outline their process upfront in a formal response.
Keep in mind that if you value your time, choosing an agency will usually be your most efficient and reliable route for having a website built. If you hire someone who is only a developer, you will still need to find, hire and manage a copywriter, designer, search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, photographer, etc. Agencies have all of these creative professionals on staff.
2. What platform will you be using?
There are several platforms commonly used to build websites: WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, are a few. Have your prospective developer or agency provide their recommendation along with an explanation of why they believe that platform is right for you. Be cautious of Custom Content Management Systems (CMS), which are oftentimes proprietary to the developer. It’s not a question of if, but rather, when you will need changes to your website; an unfamiliar CMS can make it difficult for anyone besides the original developer to work with the system. A developer who falls off the grid could even leave you locked out of your own website with no customer support to call—yet another reason to stick with a reputable company to build and manage your site.
3. Who will be my point of contact?
The answer to this question will help you understand who you will be communicating with on a daily basis. This may not seem important at first, but websites can take months and many phases to build, during which there will be items for you to review and approve in order to keep the project moving.
- Am I getting a single point of contact or a customer support ticket system? (Be wary of the latter, which can be a sign of a company that is overgrown and/or impersonal.)
- Will I be working directly with the developer or will I have an account manager to keep the project on task? (An account manager can change your life!)
- Is the person building the site a solopreneur who may be juggling multiple website projects at once? (Many freelancers overbook themselves without having the means to scale their workload.)
4. Are there any ongoing fees once the website is complete?
You can expect relatively nominal hosting and domain name fees for your website to renew annually or every few years. Agencies will also sometimes offer ongoing website maintenance—a good thing, as long as you know what it costs and includes. There should never be a surprise when it comes to these fees. At Netwave, we usually recommend a retainer of just a few hours per month to proactively keep your site running smoothly and securely.
5. What type of marketing background do you have?
Every website has a purpose, whether it’s to attract, educate, inform, entertain, or sell. By asking your potential web developer to share their marketing background, you are ensuring that your site will be thoughtfully and strategically designed to achieve your goals.
- Do you develop brands, or just websites? (Your branding and website go hand in hand. An agency with additional expertise in branding knows that every design detail matters.)
- What is SEO and why do I need it? (If branding and your website go hand in hand, SEO is clasped between them. SEO helps your site attract customers who are searching for your products or services, strengthening your brand and putting your website to work for you 24/7.)
- What other services can you provide to help grow my business? (The completion of your website project should mark the start of using it as a marketing tool.)