19 Questions to Ask a Web Design Company Before Paying for Web design Services
One of the key decision a small business has to make is what marketing strategy to use to increase business and create better communication with customers. With an increase number of your Huntsville customers searching online for your business and for reviews of what your current customers are saying about you, it is critical that your small business have an online presence / website that communicate the values and offerings of your company.
There are many choices that you can choose from in determining how and when you will take your business online. You can opt for doing the website yourself, or buy a template to quickly add content to build your website, or select a free blogging platform like blogger.com or wordpress.com, or you could just use social media. All these are great options, but you will need a professional website that conveys a message of qualify service and customer friendliness.
Your website should be user friendly, easy to navigate, allowing your customers to quickly view exactly what they are searching for. A poor quality site can reflect badly on the image of your company.
Through my vocation into the web design and web development business I have heard stories from small business owners in the Huntsville Alabama area about web design firms who never completed the job, or who did not complete the job on time, or who took clients money and shortly after refuse to return calls.
To prevent you from going through any difficulty with firms that provide web design services in the Huntsville area, I came up with a list of questions you should ask before agreeing to pay a web design company to build your website:
Is the fee for web design services a flat fee?
Find out if you are required to pay a one time fee that covers all of your website cost. Some web design firms will have separate prices of graphic design, content, hosting, domain name, quality control, SEO, social media and a host of other services. Find out exactly what you are paying for. Domain name should not cost more than $20 and hosting no more than $200 a year for small business projects.
Do I own the site permanently? Who owns the right to the site?
I have seen cases when website owners pay a good deal of money, but still does not own the site. I have a realtor client who paid $1,500 for a website that he did not own. The contract stipulated in fine print that all the graphic design and creatives belong to the web design firm. It is important to know upfront as this could create trouble in the future if you desire to use a new web designer.
Who is responsible for renewing the Domain Name?
This can be confusing, particularly if you or some other entity, other than your current web designer, purchased the domain name on your behalf. You want to ensure that your domain is renewed on time, because you may run the risk of losing it, particularly if it is a high traffic keyword domain name
How much is hosting, and where is my site hosted?
Hosting could eat a chunk of your online budget if you are not careful. Some web design companies charge as much as $100 a month. At HUNTSVILLE PR we charge only $40 a year and our client are happy with the price. You should also know where your website will be hosted. Will it be hosted by your web designer or is your web designer using a third party. If it is a third party hosting service, find out which one and how reliable the company is with up time. We use Godaddy for some of our clients’ hosting and Godaddy has a 99 percent up time.
How long will the project take?
This is critical as you will be having your money on the line. Perhaps you may have a specific product launch date. Ensure that you have a launch date in print or email form. If your web designer tells you that it will take more than a month, that could be a sign that you are not high on his priority list. On the other hand if he / she tells you that the project will be completed in 24 hours, this could be an indication of poor quality work. It is important to note that the length of the project also depend on how quickly you can deliver the content, graphics and other materials the web designer would need to compete the project.
Will I be able to edit the site myself?
If you are building a small business website with more than 15 pages or so and need frequent updates, it may be useful for you to have access codes to edit the site. In addition, the site should be user friendly enough so that someone without html background could easily edit pages. You should also have the option of letting your web design firm do monthly updates for a small fee.
Are there other charges I should be concerned about?
As mentioned before ask your web designer what is the bottom line. Are there hidden charges or other charges that you should know about. There should be no surprises.
Is your web design firm based in Huntsville?
If you web designer is located in the Huntsville area, chances are you are more likely to have access to him / her and to ask questions and on occasion physically hand over materials for the site. You could also drop in to see the progress of the site and give guidance as to what specifically your site should look like
Do you have a Huntsville City license?
Ask if your web designer or the web design firm has license to operate in the City of Huntsville. This is important if matters of the law should emerge in the future. That way you can hold him / her reliable of duplicate content or if other illegal content was place on your site – such as using images without permission
What time of day are your clients allowed to contact you?
Ask what are the hours of operation. Some web designers work from home and you can call them literally 24 hours a day in case of emergency. As a small business you may need to make some quick changes, particularly if you are doing e-commerce.
Are there samples of your work you have done for clients in the Huntsville area?
Every workman should have evidence of workmanship. Ask to see samples to ensure that the web designer is capable of delivery and fulfilling your expectations
Do you give free consultation to your clients?
Ask if consultation is free. A good webmaster will freely give advice. I have found out that webmasters are willing to give advice more than any other group. If your prospective webmaster does not render free consultation, you should move on to another company. Also, if you want to learn more about elements of web design such as html, blogging, social media etc, you can join the North Alabama Web Development meet up group. If is free to join and there are many incredible website promotion and marketing techniques you will learn
How much does it cost to do additional work on the site?
Ask if there is a maintenance fee. If there is what does it cost for maintenance and what services are covered. At HUNTSVILLE PR every change and addition to your site is considered maintenance and we start of at $50 a month. However, some of our clients do not need frequent changes so we just do it gratis
Will your services include search engine optimization (SEO) services as well?
Some webmasters will charge a separate fee for getting your site crawl by the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Find out your options, as SEO services can be pretty expensive. This is important as the only way people will find your sites is by submitting it to search engines.
Do I receive email addresses with my domain?
Let me say this, you should. You should get at list one email box such as firstname.lastname@example.org. In most cases you will also receive up to 50 free email forwarding addresses.
Do you have a contract for your clients to sign?
Please do not do things by word of mouth. Save all your email correspondence and text messages. However, it is advisable that you have a contract. Not every one is honest in this world. Protect yourself.
Do you also do web development?
Not all web designers are capable of doing web development. Web development skills, particularly in the area of PHP and ASP.net database , is critical when dealing with e-commerce, image gallery and some of the other technical aspects of web development.
Do you do all your work in house or do you outsource as well?
Some Internet companies in Huntsville do some outsourcing of their work. Although outsourcing can speed up the process, it can also create problems due to miscommunication. You say one thing to your web design and he / she tells the outsource agent something else
Do you set build your customers’ site with social media accounts?
With the increase use of social media to market products some small businesses could benefit from social media plug in. Ask if social media plug in, such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter will be part of the package.
So, here you have it. Ask these questions and ensure that they are answered to some satisfactory before choosing a Huntsville web design firm to build your website