15 Questions to ask an agency before hiring

Data Log 11/18/2022
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So, you’ve decided you’re ready to invest in a new site, Congratulations! This is an exciting and important step toward the growth of your business. There are many benefits as to why you should have a website built for your business and there are many tools out there that give business owners the ability to create beautiful-looking websites. There are a lot of reasons why you should hire a design agency and plenty of agencies out there who claim to know how to make the ‘perfect website’. Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, “perfect” is only perfect if it meets your expectations and achieves your goals.

One of our favorite things about our job here at My Website Spot is that we get to talk to people. Be it through articles like this one, client meetings, website training sessions, or giving FREE advice. We love to talk to our clients! When meeting with a new client for a website build, our team likes to make sure all of their questions are answered. We get a lot of questions about our processes, billing and estimated time frames.

We think that it is important to be informed about your website development process. We have compiled a list of 15 of the most important questions you should ask a web agency before hiring alongside some quick pointers on why these questions are important.

  1. Do I get to keep my website?
    1. This is important to ask because a lot of agencies have a clause in their terms of service that will prevent you from keeping your site in the event of cancellation. Understanding what you contractually own will affect your ability to retain your digital assets.
  2. Do I get to keep my domain?
    1. Some web agencies might have a package deal that includes a domain registration service. This service takes the responsibility of managing a domain off your hands for a small fee.
  3. Is my site Custom or built off a template?
    1. A lot of WordPress sites are created using a website-building platform. Some sites utilize templates to aid in the development process while others are completely custom-made. It all depends on your business needs and how your site fits into your budget.
  4. Will my site be secure?
    1. Security is a big deal. Especially now more than ever as we move more of our lives into the web. A secure website is a good website and security needs to be a top priority before beginning work with any agency. Look for certifications and ask for security experience.
    2. How will you handle payments?
      • Will your customers have a customer portal? Customer portals provide a space for your customers to directly access information about their accounts. This can support ticket tracking for both you and your customers regarding service, payments, and communication.
      • Is it through PayPal? Paypal accepts transactions through direct email accounts linked to credit or debit cards or PayPal accounts. International currency is accepted and transactions take 1 – 2 business days to complete.
    3. E-commerce?
      • Do they specialize in E-Commerce? E-Commerce is a big endeavor and it is important to hire a firm that has what it takes to create an inviting, user-friendly shop that customers want to keep coming back to.
      • What is their experience in the e-commerce field? Designers experienced in e-commerce web design understand the amount of work required to keep these sites engaging and up-to-date for users. Special attention needs to be made during heavy transaction periods for plugins and continual inventory updates.
  5. How long will it take?
    1. It is important to get an understanding of how long the development process takes and depending on the complexity of the project, a specific completion timeline will vary.
  6. Do I need to purchase any extra assets?
    1. The main assets in web design include Domain Registration (www.yourdomain.com), Website Files (WordPress, plugins, and themes), Website Database, Social Media Accounts, Email Addresses ([email protected]), 3rd Party Accounts (Google4, GoDaddy, etc.), Licensing for Plugins, Photography, and Videography, and Written Text. With new technologies being developed every year, your web designer will inform you of any new assets and provide information on how these assets will benefit your site.
    2. Do you provide in-house graphics design? My Website Spot provides in-house graphics design which not only cuts down on the number of people working on your site outside of your company but helps maintain a singular approach to the work being done.
    3. Do you provide content writing? Content writers provide the text across your website. Our content writers understand that your site should not only be informative but engaging with your audience. Our content invites your customers to learn more through the products and/or services your company provides.
  7. Will I receive training to manually update the site?
    1. Look for firms that offer client training with their service. It is important to be involved in your site’s development and knowing how to update the site is of the utmost importance.
  8. What kind of maintenance/support should I expect to see after the site is live?
    1. Our company provides free site changes the first 30 days after a site goes live. We also offer routine updates and security monitoring plans. Monthly maintenance plans for small site changes are also available.
  9. Will my site be mobile-friendly?
    1. Mobile devices are the future. A big portion of the web is navigated using mobile devices. A mobile-friendly site is a key element when it comes to your site’s SEO performance and can have the biggest impact on visitor engagement.
  10. What is your Support SLA?
    1. A web design agency is only as good as its customer support. Look for an agency that has a clear Service Level Agreement (SLA).
  11. Can I get a breakdown of your design process?
    1. We have a 6 step process for the success of a new website! We start with Planning, before moving on to Design. Once the design is settled we start Development and we finish off with Optimization of the site before, Launch, and final Review of the project. To learn more about our website design services please contact us.
  12. Who will be working on my site?
    1. It’s always good to get an introduction to the team that will be working on your site. Especially during the first few stages, It is good to have a meeting and discuss the direction of the website.
  13. Can I see a portfolio of your previous sites?
    1. Actions speak louder than words! Make sure to thoroughly check the portfolio to get an idea of patterns and common design themes that the agency likes to implement. It will also give you an idea of what you want your new website to look for!
  14. Will my website work in search engines?
    1. SEO is important and this is an integral part of owning a website. Getting your site out there with an effective SEO Strategy is the best way to gain a steady stream of visitors. If a site is not SEO ready, then you won’t see a lot of results from your new site. Keep in mind that SEO is not an overnight solution but a continuous process that requires constant maintenance.
  15. Is my website accessible (We will be adding accessibility updates soon)?
    1. Just like a remote needs AAs to run, your site needs to be AA compliant! The internet is huge and there is a variety of people navigating. A more open web means that sites need to be accessible in order for everyone to enjoy them regardless of disability. AA compliance is the sweet spot for most websites. We wrote an article that goes into more detail about what it means to be ADA-compliant here.

We hope that these 15 questions help spark a meaningful conversation next time you are ready to meet with a design agency. My Website spot is always willing to provide FREE advice. If you have any questions, need assistance with how to get started on a new website project, or just want to give us feedback on this article, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line and we’ll get in touch to help your site find its spot among the stars!