Are you designing your company website for the first time? Or, perhaps, redesigning the current one? Selecting the right e-commerce platform is only half the job done. Enterprises using a platform like nopCommerce know that they have a well-structured solution that combines the best features of open-source and commercial software.
The next task is to find the right development agency for your website. It’s a lot like hiring a new employee. The wrong choice can lead to waste of time, money and effort, while the right decision can take your business to the next level. How do you ensure that you are making the right decision? By asking the right questions. Here are 10 questions to ask prospective web development agencies before signing on the dotted line:
How much will it cost?
Some agencies quote a flat project price, while others go by hourly rates. It’s prudent to ask for an itemized list of deliverables – what’s included in the price and what’s not. Also, find out about the billing in case of additional features or services opted for once the project is underway. Will the contract allow you to decrease or increase your retainer when needed? The right web development agency will provide you with the best value for your money.
How long will it take?
It’s important to ask upfront how much time a prospective web development agency will be devoting to your project. While the total time taken for a website will depend on the scope of the work and accessibility to all the needed information, it’s practical to find out about the average turnaround time. Also, don’t shy away from discussing repercussions of missing deadlines.
What services do you offer?
Many agencies today offer an array of services besides web development. There’s hosting, copy writing, e-commerce solutions, digital marketing services such as social media, SEO, or PPC management, and you-name-it! It’s essential to find an agency with experience in integrating the different systems you work with.
Do you offer maintenance service?
A website is not a one-time investment. It requires continuing maintenance and support. Also, with technology changing at such a rapid pace, the website will require updates and modifications. It’s vital to check with the prospective agency whether they offer maintenance services. If yes, are they provided on an as-needed, ongoing, or retainer basis?
What is the escalation process?
Will there be a dedicated support function for 24/7 monitoring and management? If there’s a serious problem with the website, can you call the project manager and expect him to look into it pronto? It’s important to know about the escalation processes and who your points of contact are for different issues. Also, remember to ask how the agency charges for support.
Will any of the work be outsourced?
It’s a tricky topic that’s best discussed right at the beginning. If majority of the development is outsourced, it’s a risky proposition. Even if you have to shell out more money, it’s better to choose an agency that has an in-house team of web developers, graphic designers and e-commerce designers. In case, there are independent contractors working on certain components of your website, always ask for their credentials.
Will you be employing responsive design?
Websites today need to be built mobile-ready. So, it’s sensible to find out how the agency approaches the mobile component of web design. Will responsive design be used, or will there a separate mobile site included as part of the initial website design?
How do you measure the success of your websites?
It’s not just about having an online presence, but also about getting a return on investment by way of a website that delivers business results. Thanks to analytic tools – think page views, unique visits, time on site, bounce rate, conversion rate, inbound links, search engine ranking – agencies today can measure the results of its web design, once the website goes live. Ask about the numbers that you can expect your website to produce.
Can I speak with some of your clients?
There’s nothing like talking with past clients for an insight into the work processes of the agency. If you can, do talk to clients from the same industry as you. Ask them about the agency’s work ethics, discipline, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
To evaluate the design diversity of the prospective agency, look at their portfolio. Check out these websites to see if the navigation is easy and the designs are in sync with the business style.
Who will own the website?
Will the domain name, website design and hosting account be registered in your name or the development agency’s name? Will you receive all source files for your website and access to your hosting account, backend administration platform and server? Will you own all artwork and content on your site?
Many enterprises realize the gravity of these questions too late. Say when they are trying to migrate the code base to a new agency, only to be told that the original code doesn’t belong to them!
In the end
As you shortlist development agencies for your nopCommerce store, you need to ask many more questions. Will the in-progress website be available for viewing during each phase for changes or content edits? Will I be able to communicate directly with developers? Will you evaluate my current website’s strengths and weaknesses before implementing any design changes? Will an independent developer review the new website, before it goes to the internal QA team?
Because selecting the right development partner is not just about the successful implementation of your e-commerce platform, but also about investing in a profitable, long-term relationship that will help meet your strategic business goals.
Are you ready with your questions? If yes, shoot them off to firstname.lastname@example.org.