Finally taking the step and creating a website for your start-up or long-time business can be daunting. Knowing what to expect when engaging a web design agency is key to ensuring a high-functioning and secure website to introduce your brand to the world.
Below are 9 things to consider before working with or choosing a web design agency.
Your Website Goals and Priorities
Just as one wouldn’t car shop without comparing vehicle makes and models, website design is no different. Prior to approaching a would-be design company, it is crucial to have a general understanding of your project’s goals and priorities, scope, style, and artistic direction; doing so will help reduce costs in the long run and give your website a more personalized touch.
Relying on the web design firm to begin your project from the ground up will involve unnecessary time on both ends for goals and scope identification, content sampling, and design, just to name a few. All of these time-consuming steps, unfortunately, equates to more money lost, and an often less personalized final product.
Save time by planning and researching. Surf the web, in or outside of your niche, and gather a list of priorities and creative concepts that you wish to be incorporated into your website.
Your Web Design Project Requirements and Timeliness
Website design and development is a timely process. While a basic web page can be thrown together in a few days, the general consensus is that websites can take 2-6 months to complete from inception to launch. After considering initial project requirements, appraise the time involved with designing, review, and launching as these steps greatly affect the project’s time frame.
When shopping for an agency, exercise patience and flexibility with developers. More often than not, designers will be unable to fulfill a request immediately, and wait times for booking are unfortunately inconsistent across the industry. When you’ve found a developer to move forward with, be sure to communicate time expectations clearly to the agency to make certain of deadlines.
Of course, the time frame can vary depending on the length of modification and review period, holidays, and unforeseeable software issues and bug fixes. To avoid hold-ups, it’s recommended to discuss beforehand and address any possible delays.
Location of the Outsourcing Web Design Company
Outsourcing web development is becoming increasingly popular. Why wouldn’t it be? Professional and reliable developers can be found in every corner of the globe and are often much cheaper than paying for a developer domestically.
While hiring an overseas company to develop and design your website, know and understand the following:
Make certain that you are hiring a reliable and well-reviewed developer. This can be made harder by the potential language barrier and time differences. As with purchasing any other service, make sure to review prior work, experience, and connected social media and networking sites. Doing so will greatly reduce the risk of hiring an unreliable developer.
Because language and cultural barriers might emerge between you and the designer, be certain to prepare concepts and ideas visually. Share a folder with your ideas or perhaps email a list of links. The goal is to reduce issues that could emerge from language barriers or unclear communication.
Their Web Design Process
The steps to website design are research, planning, wireframe, and site mapping, design, development, testing, launch, and maintenance. However, as website design is both creative and collaborative, developers often have their own unique web design process. For instance here is our process at Xenia to make awesome products together.
The web design process is a document provided by the designer that articulates the step-by-step process involved in the project. While much of the work will be done on solely the developer’s time, some client interaction may be required, specifically in the planning stage. During the planning process, customers can expect to communicate payment plans, requirement analyses, and site mapping procedures. Take this opportunity to get an idea of the developer’s creative flow and artistic direction, as well as communicate your own ideas. Make clear of concepts behind fonts, stock images, banners, color schemes, add-ons, and features.
If you portend certain problems or have had negative experiences with prior developers, don’t hesitate to ask your designer how they plan to address issues and delays. Understanding and knowing how the designer operates will help ease the overall process and make for a stress-free and encouraging experience.
Their Previous Work and Time Management Skills
Designers are considered artists, and one wouldn’t hire an artist without reviewing previous work and projects they’ve been involved in.
Don’t be hesitant to request a portfolio. After all, you’re paying for their service, right?. This is true whether you’re hiring domestically or planning to outsource your project. Does their previous work match your ambitions? Are their designs too complex, or perhaps too simple? Will the developer solve your business problems? A well-put-together portfolio should display the developer’s work and design capabilities. Thus, one can get an acceptable idea of what they have to offer if a portfolio is provided early on in the process.
It’s also vital to gain insight into a developer’s time management skills. Large agencies and independent freelancers may require wildly different time frames to complete the various steps involved in the web design process. If possible, request to speak to previous clients to get a better idea of the designer’s orderliness and efficiency.
Their Understanding of Customer Journey
Customer journey refers to the visual portrayal a visitor takes once logged onto your website until they exit. The depiction includes all interactions a customer makes with your web site, including:
- Which pages the visitor has clicked through and at what time
- The course of action visitors take to reach their desired result
- Areas of the website that customers find supportive and pages that aren’t helpful
- Pages that need additional features
A developer can approach this process in various ways, but the comprehensive goal of the customer journey is to optimize the website’s effectiveness in reaching the desired outcome, whether it be awareness of a product or purchasing it via built-in check out. Communicate with your design agency to understand their perspective on this crucial process. A well-developed understanding of the customer’s journey can help optimize the website to increase interactions between the company and customer, which in turn can boost sales, visit times, or clicks per page.
Their Included Web Design and Development Services
What with the advent of online shopping and e-commerce, many companies sell products or services in bundles. While bundles might be chalked full of attractive goodies, customers shouldn’t be fooled into buying the package based on its allure alone. Hiring a web developer is no different.
Developers might offer add-ons and features which may or may not prove extraneous for your needs. Make certain of your project’s design requirements, scope, and growth plans prior to moving forward with the addition of other features such as:
- Project management support
- Mobile application development
- Advanced Analytical Analysis
- E-Commerce Development
- Email integration
- Social Media and Marketing
- Translation services
Because these features might add costs to your final product, it is encouraged to reflect and consider if the service will benefit your brand and help reach business goals. Features can easily be added later in the process when goals and objectives have been reviewed based on the website’s performance.
Who Owns the Website Once It’s Completed?
Imagine spending countless amounts of time and money on an exciting new website with all the bells and whistles attached to showcase your brand to the world only to find out it isn’t actually yours. This, unfortunately, occurs all too often.
Copyright laws give ownership to the developer by default. Unless your contract specifically states, certain elements of the website are not yours. You will remain in possession of any provided text and photography, but source code, database software, and content management systems remain in the designer’s legal control.
Even domain names are never fully owned by their purchaser. Rather, they are registered to the purchasing client. This is no different than say, registering a new email address with Google or a user name on social media.
When reviewing and negotiating your contract, make clear that the agreement includes “finished assembled work” or another verbiage that warrants your ownership of the website.
Cost and Your Budget
The website design industry is fiercely competitive, and developers are in high demand. Costs can vary greatly, depending on location, skill level, project length, project difficulty, and budget. According to Website Builder Expert the average cost of hiring a Web Developer at $6,760, and may or may not include maintenance.
Your budget will be the ultimate decider of the project’s cost. Before moving forward on a project, it’s wise to consider:
The initial cost typically does not include unlimited maintenance for the website. Opting to maintain and update the website by yourself could help reduce long-term maintenance costs.
Certain features could add or reduce costs. For example, a business website with shopping and check-out features will likely cost more than a personal website or blog.
As a general rule, more pages equal a higher price tag. Opt for a minimalistic design with fewer pages to reduce costs if you’re on a budget.
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If you own a business in 2021, you need a website. As the trend towards digitalization accelerates, companies and brands that fail to create a professional online presence will most certainly miss out on countless opportunities for growth and recognition.
For additional information here is a complete guide from Ian Loew on 23 things to consider when hiring a web design company