A simple Google search will reveal hundreds of web development agencies. Most of them will have an impressive website, a professional CRM system, and even a good portfolio of projects. How can you be sure that a specific web agency is the right choice for your web development project?
In this article, we have compiled the top 15 questions you must ask your web agency before signing your web development project with them.
Do You Have A Portfolio Of The Websites You Built?
- This is, perhaps, the very first question you should ask a web agency. An agency having a vast portfolio of past projects exhibits professionalism and experience. You can also ask the agency for references, and can then get a review from other clients to know how good or bad their experience was with this agency.
Many web agencies display their portfolios on their website, primarily if they have worked for big-brand companies.
Do You Work In-House or Outsource Your Projects?
- It is no secret that many web agencies outsource their projects to freelancers located on the other side of the world. This is because they do not have the relevant expertise at hand. They find it easier to act as the middleman and have the project completed by a third party.
While most web agencies following this business model are working without any problems, this does not mean there won’t be any issues. Some of the significant issues that can arise include communication problems, project delays, and extra costs.
- If you are using a web agency for your website, it is essential to know whether or not they will be handling the project themselves. This can better prepare you in terms of project timelines and costs. If your web agency wants to outsource your project or hire external help, you should ask who it will be.
Some web agencies work with a hybrid model. They utilize both in-house expertise and outsourced help for their projects. If your agency does the same, you can ask about the delivery schedules and cost differences between the two options.
What Level Of Research Will You Do On Our Industry And Business?
- For a web design and development project to be successful, it is vital that your web agency conducts in-depth research about your business and industry. This preliminary step will help the agency suggest content and design relevant to you and your customers.
A design that is relevant to your industry and customers helps your clients know that your website is authentic, and that what you are selling/offering is legitimate. You can ask your web agency for a keyword map that they used for a previous client. This will help you know how well they research before building a website.
- If you have an existing website that just needs a re-design or a revamp, then have the web agency’s marketing analyst have a look at your website. They will research your keywords, observe metrics, and determine usage analytics. This information will help the web agency to formulate an effective plan for revamping your existing website.
How Will You Manage This Project?
Most web agencies follow the industry standard six-step practice for web development projects. These steps are:
It is always a good idea to ask your web agency about its workflow processes concerning your website development project. To minimize communication issues and conflicting commitments, you can ask for a single point of contact.
- You should also ask about stage-wise delivery reports and notifications. To enhance the success of your web development project, you can request a stage-wise review so that changes can be incorporated while the website is being built.
Will My Website Have Integrated CRM?
If your business is selling products or offering services, then an efficient customer relationship management (CRM) system must be set up and deployed on your website. Some web agencies do this without asking. However, it is a good idea to ask your web agency if they will be integrating a CRM system on your website.
Your web agency can also provide guidance on linking or upgrading your existing CRM system to match with the one that is on your new website. Customer contact and inquiry information can be delivered straight to your CRM and handled by a sales staff member. Thus you can convert leads into potential customers, and increase your revenue.
What Do I Need To Supply?
Most web agencies will outline a list of items that you will need to provide them with in order to successfully get started on your project. These include but are not limited to your logo files, fonts, colors, branding assets, images, slogans, and website text.
- You will most likely be provided with image and content guidelines to supply material that is best suited to your new website. If your web agency is offering to create your web content, be sure to thoroughly proofread before publishing.
How Much Time Is Needed To Complete My Project?
The amount of time it takes an agency to complete a web development project varies from agency to agency. It is a good idea to ask your web agency about their expected and projected project timelines. You can expect this time to be somewhere between four and six months, depending on the scope of the project.
- Depending on your requirements and the amount of work needed, the project might take longer than initially planned. You should set up your terms and conditions with your web agency if the project is delayed beyond a reasonable timeframe.
A great way to ensure your project gets completed on time is to set milestones for your web agency. At each juncture, you can ask for a project review so that any changes and mistakes can be dealt with head-on.
Do You Build A Custom Design Or Use Templates?
- Most web agencies use pre-designed templates for web development projects. They do so to save time and to complete a project early. By using a template, the web agency can devote time to other aspects of your website, such as content management, SEO, accessibility, and multiple device optimization.
Not all businesses are happy with web agencies using templates for their websites. It is a good idea to talk to your web agency about your expectations. If you want your agency to use a custom design for your website, this should be communicated well in advance. This option might make the project more costly. That being said, having a custom website can give you greater scalability and flexibility on developing a site exactly as you need it to function.
- A custom-designed website must also undergo vigorous testing, as the newly developed features might not work as planned. It might not be compatible with all kinds of devices and might present issues when used together with plug-ins.
The majority of the businesses opt for templates to save up on costs and time. Modern templates allow great customizability so that no two websites look and feel similar. Templates usually have no compatibility and integration issues.
Do You Use A Content Management System?
- A content management system (CMS) lets you update and edit the content on your website. CMS usually allows the website administrator to make changes, but some CMS systems enable other users to make changes without administrator approval.
There are plenty of CMS systems available, both free and paid ones. It is a good idea to ask your web agency about the CMS they will use for your website.
- Most web agencies use open source CMS such as WordPress because of its ease of use and exceptional integrability with various plugins and web services. Some web agencies have their own custom-developed CMS systems.
If your agency has a custom CMS, then it may limit your ability to make changes to your website. It may restrict your ability to change the source code and the metadata.
If your web agency uses a custom CMS, then it also means that it will be hosted and owned by the agency. If later you decide to change to another web hosting provider, you may be left without a website. If your web agency insists on using a custom CMS system, then you must ask these additional questions:
- Will the website, support e-commerce functionality?
- Is it compatible with all desktop, tablet, and mobile web browsers?
- How limited will I be in making changes to the website?
- What features and aspects of the website will be restricted for me?
Are SEO And Mobile Optimization Included In This Project?
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important for any business to succeed online. A website that has SEO will appear higher on the search engine’s results page, will have a better web and search engine ranking, and will be easily discoverable by prospective customers. This will help you to generate and convert new leads quickly.
Some web agencies offer mobile optimization and SEO as a part of the web development package. If your web agency provides this service, then it is in your interest to ask them about their SEO strategies. Ask them about page speed, planning for creating site titles and descriptions, creating mobile-friendly versions of the website, and keyword planning.
How Accessible Will My Website Be?
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to keep people with disabilities in mind. It aimed to end discrimination against people by making all public places and websites accessible for all. It is in your best interest to make sure your website is compliant with ADA. Otherwise, you could expect a lawsuit.
A recent survey found that over 10,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in 2018 against websites that did not offer enhanced accessibility. Similarly, if your website has a lot of foreign visitors who do not speak English, you can ask your web agency to include a translation feature on your website.
What Extra Services Do You Offer?
- Web agencies generally offer web development as a primary standard package and provide additional services as add-ons for customers to select as per their requirements. Always ask your web agency what is included in your web development package and what extra services are offered by the agency.
Some agencies offer web hosting plans, while some have partnerships with hosting providers and offer discounts on programs. If you are considering letting the agency host your website, ask them about prices, unique IP addresses, bandwidth allocation, tech support, and guaranteed uptime.
What Do You Offer In Terms Of Security?
- Your website must be well-prepared for online security threats. You must ask your web agency if they offer any security features for your website, such as SSL encryption, DDoS detection, etc. If your website is collecting customer data, it is your responsibility to ensure that data remains safe from hackers and other security threats.
You can ask your web agency what will happen if your website gets hacked. Will there be website and database backups? If yes, then how often will they get backed up? How effective and reliable are the bottlenecks? Your web agency can also suggest a web security service for your website.
Can I See A Progress Indicator For The Project?
- Most web agencies often provide a progress indicator to their clients to inform them about the project's status. They offer email notifications or automatic alerts whenever an important milestone is achieved.
Agencies may also invite the client to review the project that is underway so that any changes that come up can be made prior to completion.
How Many Revisions Are Allowed?
- Another critical question to consider is the number of revisions allowed. Most web agencies allow two major modifications and several minor edits to the web development project. This ensures project timelines are met, and costs remain within projected values.
We hope that this article has helped you understand what you must know and ask from your web agency before agreeing to a web development project. Asking the right questions can help you save both time and money.