Way back in March 2007 I sat down one evening and wrote an article entitled 10 Questions To Ask Your Prospective Web Designer. It was aimed at helping potential clients who were looking for a website but weren’t sure where to start or what to ask first. My recent post on finding blogging inspiration from old posts gave me the impetus to go back over my first posts.
The ’10 Questions’ post was a great success for me so I have decided to build on it and add another 10 questions that should be considered. So here goes:
1) Will my site site be built to professional standards?
All designers should now be building websites that validate to professional web standards. Put simply, this makes your site as ‘clean’ as possible to increase performance and cross-browser compatability. You can check a website site here.
2) Will my website follow accessibility guidelines?
By accessibility guidelines we mean making your website as usable as possible to an many user groups as you can. In the words of W3C:
Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general.
3) Is my site a template? Will I see the design elsewhere?
While templates are not detrimental to the actual build of your website they can cheapen your site if there are loads of other sites with an identical design. Find out right at the start whether you are paying for a bespoke website design or a template.
4) Does the copyright lie with me or will I see the design elsewhere?
As with templates, you want to ensure that if you have paid for a bespoke design that that’s what you are getting and more importantly, that it isn’t going to be re-used. Also, find out whether you get a copy of the website when it’s signed off just in case you decide to go elsewhere at a later date.
5) Will my domain name be registered to me?
We came accross several companies last year that had difficulty moving their website to a new provider as their previous one had registered their domain name in the web companies name and not the clients. Although you can generally get round this (if you have your original order form and details of the name being bought on your behalf) it is still hassle that could be avoided. There is no need for the domain to be registered in anything BUT your name so don’t settle for anything less.
6) Do I need a support contract?
If you don’t have a support contract have a chat with your developer about whether you actually need one. With a small static site you may be happy to pay each time you need a small change but with a large, high-functionality website it is more than likely a necessary. Websites do go down occasionally (usually hosting) so if you have your own hosting and no one you can call on to help you out then a support contract could give you peace of mind.
7) Do I have a support contract?
Make sure you know exactly when the need for a support contract would kick in and whether you have one. Find out how long it lasts for and what isn’t covered.Remember, if you don’t see a mention of it in your contract then chances are you aren’t covered after sign off.
8 ) Will I be No.1 in Google?
Beware the company that promises this! We have written several posts that go into this in detail but for this post we’ll just stick to saying that NO ONE can promise this or guarantee it – no matter how much you pay!
9) Do you provide the content for the website?
The speed of the build depends on two things:
the speed of the webdesign company in designing and building stage
the speed of client feedback and content.
For SEO, content is king but for a designer content is a killer…if it isn’t received. Find out from the start what your commitments are and whether you can pay extra for a copywriter if you don’t have the time.
10) What else should I ask?
Ok, so this is a cheat but I wanted to hammer home the importance of some of the questions from my original article:
Do I own the site and it’s copyright at the end? – Do not get in the situation where if you decide to change hosting after a year you suddenly discover you can’t because you don’t own the site.
Do you have testimonials? – reasearch the company to within an inch of it’s life, bad reviews can be nothing more than a misunderstanding but if a company has several then it’s worth being cautious.
Above all, anything that you have confirmed like this, get it in writing before laying down a deposit.