Six questions to ask your next website development firm before you start

Make a plan when developing a new website

You need a new website or to fresh-paint your old one, this is great news! There are a few things you need to know before you start shopping for a web development / design firm though, mainly to avoid problems but also to steer towards getting a better final product which will last longer and will require less hands-on approach just before and after its launch.

First, ask for recommendations

Yes that’s right, its not uncommon in the world of web development for new clients to ask for thoughts about the vendor from some of their clients. There are verticals also in which by no means will a client assign a project to a vendor have they got no recommendation from at least 1-2 of their other clients. So ask around, browse the list of each vendor’s portfolio and contact the clients.

Second, ask hard questions

This might be quite tricky but bare with us for a second. Building a website is all about putting it on paper first, then deciding what’s what and then starting building it. That is the first question, the process.

We never jump into building a website with minimum specifications, we need to know as much as possible about what needs to be built and what it needs to do, before we even consider starting building one. This is question two.

What about UX? Will the vendor provide it or? The best path to follow here is :

  1. have the idea of what website you want to build
  2. call in a UX firm to perform the UX design and wireframes, execute the interviews with the personas of your website and so on.
  3. Call in a designer to turn the wireframes into mockups
  4. call in a web developer to turn the mockups into working website pages
  5. call in an SEO expert to optimize the content and other aspects of the site for on-site SEO and local SEO.

So you see, there are things to be done here, will you vendor handle all of that and if not, which ones are and which aren’t going to be provided? That is question number three.

Third, call in a consultant for QA

You cannot have your website being built all the way through and after 3 months of work, you decide to see what errors have been made and what should be fixed. You need to be performing the quality assurance on your website while its being built, when its applicable of course.

To that end, first ask your vendor if you will be able to see the website online in a secure for-your-eyes-only URL and how does their methodology allow for comments and QA results during the process. If the vendor follows Agile, you can have regular calls in two-week periods in which you can pass on your comments and QA results. That is question number 5.

Perform your regular QA on the site with an expert WordPress or otherwise consultant, one that has a proven record of successful projects and all-around knowledge of the matters included.

Fourth, put it in the contract

In software projects, its generally standard practice to put deliverables and some rough dates into the contract. Do this with your website as much as possible and feasible in order to “push” your development firm into following this agreement. In this contract you can have things like “I want to be able to edit the sliders” or “I want to be able to add more pages” and so on, do not go crazy with specs like this though, just mention the important stuff you need like “I want the website to allow me for SEO optimizations” or “I want the website to be loading in under 5 seconds” and so on. Work with your development vendor to discuss such requirements and put them on paper. This should be a  collaborative process much more than a pushing mechanism. That’s question six.

Happy website building!

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