In Part 1 of this series, we covered the first 5 questions that you should ask your prospective web design company. Now, in Part 2, we cover the remaining 6 questions.
6. Do you have a formal design & development process?
A well-outlined and formal web design & development process will indicate that a company has invested the time and effort into processes which means that they are serious about what they do. It will also allow you to determine their level of expertise. In fact, beware of a company that does not have a formal process in place. Well established companies will also educate you as to your roles and responsibilities and what feedback and input would be required from you during the project.
7. How do you handle changes?
A proper change management process is essential. Let’s face it; at some point in time, your website will need changes or updates. A properly implemented change management mechanism is important as it will ensure that the changes are
(a) properly reported
(b) actually implemented
(c) reported back to you and
(d) tested to make sure all works well.
You will also need to find out what types of maintenance options are provided and what the associated charges are.
8. What types of technologies do you work with?
9. Do you provide website hosting services?
Get a clear answer. If a company provides in-house hosting, at the very least, make sure that they are not hosting your mission critical website on a server in their basement, or in their office. If they outsource, make sure that you know what SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are in place and where the hosting company is located.
10. Who owns the website code after work is completed?
If you are spending several thousands of dollars on your website, there is only one acceptable answer. You as the client will own the website, the code, media and all content. If your website uses components such as a content management system, or a shopping cart system, be sure to find out about the licensing and ownership.
11. How do you charge?
There are 2 ways for a web design & development company. They can charge you for time, i.e. by the hour, day, week or month. Or they can charge you a fixed amount for your project. Bear in mind that in order to establish a fixed cost, the requirements and specifications have to be very clearly laid out. In fact, most web projects can be estimated fairly accurately if a given company has the experience in the industry. If a company is unwilling to give you a fixed cost for a project, it is advisable to be careful…time-based billing can get ridiculously expensive.