We all know that if you want to succeed in a competitive market, you have to be the best at not only what you do and what you offer, but how you offer it. The power of an effective online presence, brand and website is integral to this offering, but it can be an overwhelming task to compare different website development companies and select the one that's right for your business.
So how do you choose?
Having an effective website means being able to succinctly deliver your company's message, products or services to your potential customers. So here's some key points that you need to think about before selecting a website development company to work with:
1. Know your goals
Are you looking for a brochure website, a website to convert
leads or an ecommerce website to sell your products? Before you
approach any potential suppliers you should know what your goals
and aims are, and how you will measure a website's success e.g.
return on investment, conversion of sales, expansion of customer
base, brand awareness or leads generated. You should also always
make sure that any website you have developed is content editable -
so you can make simple changes to your site without having to fork
out expensive hourly rates for someone else to do
2. Know your budget
Being upfront about your budgets and expectations will help you avoid wasting time with suppliers that you could only ever hope to afford. However it's wise to be weary of quotes that seem too good to be true - they probably are, and the long term value of a website developed on a shoestring budget can be very disappointing - your website is an investment in your business.
You should also always choose a website supplier that will deliver a website that's "future proof" - meaning you can add new features and functions to the website should you wish, despite the emergence of new technologies. Working with a developer in this way will mean that you won't have to build a new website from scratch as soon as you want to change something! At Digital Design, through our PDMS arm, we've developed systems 20 years ago that are still in use today - that's value for money.
Remember to ask about deposits and invoicing arrangements too - do they require prepayment or are you invoiced monthly for work on an ongoing basis?
3. View their track record
Anyone can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Before selecting any suppliers you need to see proof of their previous work, credentials and partners - and speak to some of their clients about how they work. Do they have long term clients and industry recognised credentials? Gather feedback and ask for examples of similar projects they've successfully delivered. How well do your potential suppliers understand your industry, goals and business? And have they invested in the right technologies for you? Take a look at our Track Record as a good example.
4. Make sure you can communicate
A seemingly trivial statement to make, but actually making sense
of a website development company's technical jargon can be a real
challenge, and can even result in you signing up for a project that
doesn't really deliver what you wanted it to. So make sure you
always ask potential suppliers to explain the technology behind
their proposals, and if they can't, then you can cross them off
You should also be mindful of how potential suppliers communicate with you - do they promptly return your calls or are you always left chasing them?
5. View their designs
Good website development companies will come with good designers to make their systems visually appealing - so look at previous sites they've developed and see if you like their style. Do they always stick to the same designs and layouts, or are they flexible, innovative and use graphic design that enhances website users' experiences?
6. Agree key deliverables
A project proposal should always detail all key deliverables and time frames, so you can agree exactly what you are paying for. This proposal should also detail how the company aims to ensure your website is search engine optimisation friendly, detail arrangements for support, training to use your website, team member details of those working on your project and hourly rates for any extra developments that are not included in the scope of the project.
7. Read the fine print
You will hear horror stories about this, so please always make sure that when you are having a website developed you own the domain name! The domain name is the URL of your business, for example ours is www.digitaldesign.co.uk. There's lots of cheap domain name providers available, and it's very simply to sign up and buy one yourself.
You should also make sure that any contract you sign states that you own the copyright to the entire website - including its concept, content, coding and development. Let your potential website developers know that you will require the original, editable source files for your website, to ensure that you always have control of your website should you ever need to change supplier.
8. Get in touch
We hope you've found these tips on how to choose a website development company useful, and if you think we might fit the bill for something you're looking for, don't forget to get in touch.