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We are here to share with you 20 questions to ask a web design company before hiring them. We’re always trying to bring you easy to understand and digestible content with respect to web development and digital marketing, and today’s subject should be very interesting. First, let’s start with number one:

How long have you been in business?
I think this is a good question to ask. We want to know, how much does experience does somebody have? Just opened up their shop yesterday? Is it something that they’ve been doing for many years? What is their skill set? What do you think, Mike?

I think everyone has to start somewhere. And if they haven’t been in business for a long time, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker. However, it certainly should be a red flag, especially if it comes down to a site that might be a little more expensive or if there’s very specific functionality. Having the resources and experience on how to navigate through challenges, in many ways just comes with time and not necessarily something that you can just know just from textbooks or examples.

You don’t want to be paying for somebody’s learning experience. You want to be paying for results.

Correct.

Do you outsource any of your design or development work?
This is an important question, I think.
Right. Outsourcing design and development work. If you’re paying someone to design and develop your website, you certainly want to make sure that they’re not outsourcing the whole project and just collecting a fee. Because for that, you might as well go directly to the source and save a couple dollars yourself. When it comes to the outsourcing of design, I don’t think that there’s anything necessarily wrong with outsourcing design. For example, we do not do graphic design internally ourselves. It’s not our specialty, it’s not our forte, it’s not really where we excel. So we would rather outsource that. However, we have a good network of people that we will outsource graphic work, depending on the type of projects that all go to certain freelancers or design companies. Where that helps is it’ll certainly reduce cost, because you only have to pay for the services and design work that is actually needed. We don’t have to build that into the actual cost of the project.

Some agencies and freelancers have outsourced work to outside of the country. Again, this is not necessarily a deal breaker, however, it should be a red flag. Because in many parts of the country, design elements, design practices, how you design, how you optimize for conversion, can be very different. Design work out of the Middle East usually comes at a quality issue. However, it’s usually very cheap. Outsourcing design work to parts of Asia and Russia, that’s a very common thing, very modern designs come out of it. However, it doesn’t necessarily fit with the brand’s value and business models.

There’s nothing wrong per se with outsourcing certain parts of your design process, but it’s all about transparency. You’re not just saying, “Yes, this company is going to do everything for you,” and then that company goes and just outsources everything, does nothing. That’s not what we’re trying to say. That we certainly don’t condone. But if there’s transparency, for example, in our business we’re not graphic artists, and we have a network of graphic artists we work with, why not just put that person in touch with our client? Much better, it’s transparent, and everybody can be on the same page, and I think that’s the best way to go.

One thing just to add to that. For a client that needs graphics for medical, if it’s a medical site, if it’s medical research, those designs are going to be a lot different than someone looking to start, say a T-shirt brand. The costs are going to be different. The outcome is going to be different. Specializing with a freelancer who understands how to design, whether it’s image selection or graphic design for a medical site, that type of work is going to come from a different person than someone who, let’s say designs various types of emojis.

When it comes to project management and who’s going to be involved and what roles people are going to play, how do you advise the process to look?

I think that it’s important to have one main point of contact in a development build, personally. Obviously it’s great there’s different hands involved in a project and there’s somebody from the team doing A, somebody from the team doing B. But I think one main point of contact to update the client and not overwhelm them with stuff that is not that important to the overall project, is probably the best thing to do. That’s my number one point.

We use project management tool internally called ClickUp. Absolutely love it. I think it’s the best project management tool that’s available in the market today. And we do a whole bunch of communicating internally on ClickUp. And in some cases, we share access with project files with our clients via that tool. It’s sometimes is necessary, sometimes is not necessary. So I would say from a 30,000 foot view, you should be very clear on, who is my direct point of contact? What are the milestones that I’m going to be seeing? When am I going to be seeing updates to the website and updates to the draft for my review and approval if I’m the client? And that’s my perspective overall.

Are there satisfaction guarantees?
Now the big one. When it comes to guarantees, satisfaction guarantee, deliverance guarantee, I think these guarantees need to be broken down, especially when it comes to a website. If you’re doing it on somewhat of a shoestring budget and you don’t have a UI or web design files going into it, say, “This is exactly how I want it to look and function,” I think it’s very important for both people to be protected from the start. You don’t have to have a crazy contract with 20 pages of fine print. However, understanding when certain milestones and deliverables will be delivered, it’s very important for both sides. From the client’s side, they don’t want to be waiting three months, six months, a year. How long is the website going to take? Maybe it’s done, maybe it’s not. Going back and forth. There needs to be set milestones.

However, with the creative process there certainly can be back and forth. However, I think that as far as putting together, the big question is, what’s considered done? In many cases when there’s a handoff from the development side, it can say, okay, well this is actually done. However, if the client doesn’t provide all the images or they decide once the site’s live, users are having a hard time navigating it, maybe there needs to be some work. Are there satisfaction guarantees?

There has to be guarantees in place. Otherwise, how can a client feel confident that them putting their hard-earned money towards a project that they’re actually going to get what they want? You made a point, what if there isn’t design files? What if there is not a designer involved and a client is just coming and saying, “Oh, we need a website.” That’s why the onus is on the development company to be very, very, very specific and say, “This is what you’re getting. This is what we’re doing for the price that you’re paying. This is the timeline that we’re going to be developing it in. And we are going to do whatever is necessary to ensure that you as our client are happy, that you have a functioning website at the end of all of this.” Otherwise, it leaves a lot to risk and you put them in a bad position.

I want to tell you a story. I have a particular nationally known musician that I work with. And we just had a conversation yesterday. He said, “I’m so happy we’re working together. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve been down this road of websites. What your team has developed for us recently is the best iteration that we’ve ever had of our site. And what I found is, is that usually designers in the past that I’ve worked with take a deposit, promise the world, they pick up the phone, everything is great. Once that deposit has been received, you can’t get them on the phone and everything that you ask them to edit becomes additional costs, when it was supposed to be a website that were completed now.”

I don’t put that entire blame on the designer themselves, I put most of the blame on them, but not all. Because again, as an informed client, we have to go into the situation with our eyes wide open and we need to make sure that we are 100% on the same page and that we are clear on what we are delivering and what we are getting, as both the developer and the client.

And that really protects both sides, because there’s an industry term called scope creep. And that’s where you have an outline project that’s been scoped out. However, over time it begins to change. Add this page, add this section, we need this functionality. There’s nothing wrong with making changes to it. However, you don’t want the development company to begin to get tired, or start skimping on some of the work, or get lazy with how they end up doing the code, where now you don’t have clean code on your site, because all of a sudden now it’s taking so much more time and they’re not making as much money. It really protects both sides. And at the same time, when you get additional aspects and functions added to what needs to be a part of the finalized site, it’s going to add to the time delay.

Yes, Mike, I’m certainly not proposing that a development company should continue to do more and more and more that’s outside of their scope. That’s why I say, it has to be very clear what the deliverables are. I as a development firm and providing to my client, A, B, C, and D. When client comes and asks for G and H and X, we’ll say, “I would love to do that for you, but here’s an amendment to our agreement and here’s the time it’s going to take and this is what it is.” There’s nothing wrong with that. That is the way that it should be done.

It’s not about nickel-and-diming.

No, it’s certainly not about nickel-and-diming. It’s a matter of, this is what we’ve agreed to, we’re going to stick with it, and it’s good for both sides. It is bad for both sides when we just say, “Yeah, no problem, we’ll take care of her. We’re going to do your website.” No list of what the actual deliverables are. Then we get into a position where there is no end and that is not a position that either party should be put into.

 

What if I don’t know exactly what I need?

One thing I see often is where, as the scope creep begins, it’s primarily due to going into the project not knowing exactly what the client needs. What’s your best advice for navigating around this?

I think it’s a matter of doing the correct onboarding, the correct questions have to be asked upfront of the client before anything happens. If a client comes into a situation, says, “I want a website.” And I could say, “Okay, great. I’d love your business.” But who’s going to provide the content? Who’s going to provide the images? Where’s your graphic content coming from? If we’re not crystal clear, what functionality do you want? What are we trying to achieve? What is the core purpose of the site? Is it informational? Are we selling something? Are we trying to get people to call? If we are not crystal clear on all of these topics, again, we’re put into a situation that we need to go down that road and we need to educate the potential customer with all of these questions, because again, comes back to the point we talked about before. What are the exact deliverables that we’re getting? What is the price that associated with it? So we can both be on the same page.

And to avoid paying excess money for work that you don’t actually need or to reduce the amount of time that it’s going to take to get that finished product, I actually don’t think that there’s anything wrong with starting off with a minimal viable product. When you build on WordPress or WooCommerce or Shopify, you can always scale your site down the road once you know exactly what you need. You can take data-driven decisions based on actual data on how customers are interacting, how they’re using the site, and then you can build out the rest of your site once you know exactly what you need.

The platform in which we build a phase one, so to speak, is the same platform that we add on and add on. I always use this example. I say, look, you have to get to a certain point to be able to see what the next plateau is, right? The next point on the mountains. We have to be able to build what it makes sense for a business at that particular moment, with the idea that as things progress, as the business increases, as things change, we will be able to move with the times.

Right. And in many ways it’s going to save so much money and time and headaches in the long run.

I agree. Again, but it’s all about making sure that there is a clear understanding of what the deliverables are. I use the term phase a lot. I say to my clients, “Let’s develop phase one. Here’s what it is.” I am not expecting that miraculously after let’s say a month of development and all of the deliverables from phase one are done, I’m not expecting that you’re never going to want to add anything else to your website. That’s just not how it works. And we’ll say, “What does phase two look like over the next few months? What does phase three look like down the road six months to a year?” These are the type of conversations that I think that are important, so your clients feel as if that they feel secure that you are with them in the long run. You’re not just taking a deposit and slapping something together and end of the story.

If you’re a locksmith, you’re not going to meet a four-phase website. However, if you have a business that’s a little more complex, maybe you’re e-commerce, maybe you have a lot of actual content pages, that’s when I think it would make more of a difference.

Sure, sure. But look, take the locksmith example. Say you develop a landing page for that locksmith that wants to test out some kind of Facebook Ads, let’s say, or Google Ads. Maybe, once that’s done, maybe once there’s a proof of concept, he may want to develop some other services, or build out some other content on the side, or start a content marketing plan, something, who knows? That’s why I say, if he came to me today and said, “I want a landing page or several pages that I can push some traffic to,” I would say, “Great. Let’s start with that and let’s see what the world looks like after you start doing that and we’ll make decisions from there.”

Can you provide referrals from past clients? Can you show me examples of similar projects you have worked on? Can you show me results?
Sure. Now this question really ties into the experience question, by being able to show similar projects. I have very mixed thoughts on asking this, because in some ways if you go to a web development agency that only does websites for lawyers, chances are if you’re a lawyer, you’re going to get a cookie cutter template. There’s only so many ways that they’re going to be able to design. They probably have templates that they duplicate and just slap your logo on there and there you go. However, a company that has a more versed portfolio of websites will be more in the know of what’s actually working, what’s trending, and they can give you a site that’s actually unique to your business. A disadvantage of that is that they might not have the experience in a specific niche. What are your thoughts about that?

I have a similar feeling as you, is that it could go either way. Yes, of course, if there’s one vertical that accompany does really well in, I see a plus and a minus. They’ll probably know how to make a site for a lawyer, but then again, you get into that kind of tunnel vision. Every site looks the same. It’s the same as every other attorney’s site they did. And just like you mentioned, on the opposite side, if they have a broader scope of type of clients that they take on, I think that that’s a good thing too.

I personally can, look, I can say only from my own experience. I like to be able to take web development ideas and trends and new techniques that we’ve learned, and I love applying that to different industries. To me, that is exciting. To me, I think that that keeps things relevant and fresh and interesting, as opposed to just sitting behind the desk and saying, “Okay, well here’s, you have 17 lawyer websites that we need to build today, let’s just knock them all out.” That sounds like hell to me, frankly.


Do you take the time to learn about my business as well as do research on my competitors?

As far as the research process, in order to be able to get to the point where you can actually start building, what’s your take on how the process should look like?

I think that any reputable company is going to have, maybe not a proprietary, but a process that they follow to ensure that they look at, who are the competitors? What are they doing well in the marketplace? What are the goals of the potential client? What industry is it? Is there industry specific stuff that we can do or that we should know about? What are the trends with respect to keywords and searches? I think that all of this has to happen in the background, and I think that it will separate the good from the not so good.

I think one red flag would certainly be if they don’t have a research plan, because how are they going to actually build out a website that’s going to work for you and for your business? And that’s ultimately going to drive the results that you’re looking for.

Totally agreed. What works for company A is not going to work for company B, and that’s even in the same industry. So even if it’s not even in the same industry, it gets even worse. So we need to be very specific and targeted with our intent and what our research is so that we’re providing the best value we possibly can.

Right.

What other services do you offer?

This makes me think about the next point, is what other services does this company offer? I think it’s really important to get a gauge of, who are these people that I’m going to be putting my trust in, in order to develop a website for me? And what else do they have in their sphere? What are they offering to me besides web development? What do you think, Mike?

There’s nothing wrong with a web development agency that only builds websites. However, what they’re not going to be able to take into consideration is what’s going to actually drive the conversions. And you’re building out a website or most clients are building out a website with a specific goal in mind. They want more leads, they want more downloads, they want to give their users more information. There’s an ultimate goal. And they only build websites, be able to factor in certain placement that’s going to be able to build out navigation that’s going to have a higher click-through rate or to understand the actual fundamentals of what’s going to convert a user into a customer or the type of product page that will drive higher sales or an upsell funnel.

Those elements often are left out. Doing everything usually is not the type of agency you’re going to want to work with. If they’re doing billboards and TV ads and maybe they print business cards, oftentimes the website and the digital aspect is just an add-on service, and you’re not going to actually be able to get the type of value that you’re going to need to drive results for your business.

Agreed.

Being able to work with someone who understands Facebook Ads and Google Ads, if that’s going to be a part of your strategy, often you’re going to want that to be built in. There’s pixel placement and event tagging that all needs to be factored in to make sure that you don’t have specific conflicts or elements that would prevent certain ad platforms from being able to track correctly.

What happens if the customer does not like the design?
That’s a very good question. If you’ve paid money to a web development agency, everything seems to be going well, they provide you with a link of something to review and you don’t like it. Then what happens?

I think this really comes back to planning. If you go into this project and you have a clear plan of exactly what you want, then the communication from the time where you engage with the project, to the time of completion, there should be several milestones or checkpoints that you’re able to recognize that this is not going in the direction or this is not turning out the way that the designs call for. Now again, if you don’t have designs, no problem. But you should be seeing the process of the development. And at any point, to be able to communicate through, again, whether you use a project management tool or just simple email, the client should be able to have a clear communication process to let them know that this placement’s not correct, or the color scheme’s not correct, or the overall design is not what was originally discussed or envisioned. At any of those points, you can still pivot. But once the site’s done, you almost have to start tearing apart the backbone or the foundation to rebuild it.

I’ll add a couple points to what you’ve just said. Number one, as you said, it comes to the planning. Very seldom have I seen a situation personally where this happens is because we’re clear. If they don’t have a design already set up, I’m going to say to them, “Show me examples of competitors or outside of your industry, sites that you love.” Because that gives us an idea of a starting point. If we don’t ask those questions, how will we know what they want? Maybe they want a site that’s completely opposite from the way we even build sites. Very important to ask those questions.

Additionally, we’ve got to get straight to the point. If the client does not like the design, there has to be… I don’t like seeing these situations where web developers will say, “Oh, we’re going to build you up to five pages and you have three changes.” In my book, that’s nonsense. They’ve hired you in order to develop something. You develop it and do what is right and do what is necessary in order to ensure that your client is happy. That’s my position. Again, I’m not talking about outlier of a client that asks you for 3000 changes, I’m not saying that that’s what’s acceptable. But in most cases, so what? Roll up your sleeves, spend a few hours in order to do exactly what your client needs so that they have the best chance of being successful in their eyes.

 

What happens if there’s something that is needed to be added to the project? Or something changes in the scope after it started? What does that usually look like?

Mike, believe it or not, this happened to me today. And I don’t look at it as an issue at all, because I spend the time and I explained to my client exactly what we were doing for the price that I was charging. Now, we already have a full site in development. Now the client has realized they have a great platform that they didn’t have previously. Now the client says to me, “Hey Alex, I want to start selling subscriptions to all this content that I have, that I never could do before. And it just hit me now, because I’ve seen the level of website that has been built by your company.”

What do we do? I said to him very simple, “We’ve agreed that I was going to do what I was going to do and we’ve already gotten to that point. Let’s have a discussion about what it is. Give me the dream. Tell me exactly what you want to see.” Now that I have built up trust with this particular client, they understand that when they give me this “dream list” of functionality, I’m going to think about it and I’m going to come up with a plan of how we are going to execute it.

So again, it just happened to me today. It is a wonderful opportunity. I take it not as a, “Oh, I’m not happy with what you’ve built so far, I want the following stuff added as part of my original agreement.” No, no. I look at it as completely opposite. You’ve done what you’re supposed to have done. The client just said to me, “Of course I want to release this new site, I love it. But you know what? Let’s hold off. Let’s do phase two right away and get it done in the next 30 days and then let’s launch the entire project as a whole. I think we’re going to blow away our current fan base and I think we’re going to be able to collect some great income from the subscription model that is a brand new idea that just happened.” Again, it’s an opportunity to say, “Hey, we’ve done what we said we were going to do in phase one, let’s start talking about the next phase.”


How long will my project take?

One concept that I’m seeing throughout this entire conversation that we’re having is really focused on communication. And I think oftentimes again, it gets lost, and when both sides are not on the same page, that’s when a good opportunity or a good relationship can really go sour. And more times than not, when we are on our initial calls and trying to scope out projects, a lot of the complaints are about how long something took, or how three months went by or four months went by, and they don’t have any sort of finished product, they haven’t actually seen what the website looks like. And I think the time aspect is a very big hindrance. Obviously there’s many factors. You know from a technical standpoint what can cause delays. Client communication, if you ask for some feedback and you don’t get any feedback, you can’t move on to the next step, a week or two late, fine. What are your thoughts about outlining time deliverables?

It’s critical. I’ll say it as simple as that. Critical. If I’m a savvy client, I am going to say, “When am I getting a full draft of the website?” Let’s just say it’s 30 days from now. I’m going to say, “Okay, great.” At what point am I starting to receive a discount if I don’t see a copy of it at that time? I would go as far as to say that, personally, if I was in the market for a website.

Because look, again, this is your business that we’re talking about here. This is not just something you’re doing for fun and spending thousands of dollars for nothing. You need this in order to plan. And if a professional firm says, “You are going to get the following from me at this time,” then there should be no deviation for that. Obviously, as you’ve said, maybe the client is nonresponsive or some other issue happens, I’m not talking about those scenarios. But in general, make sure you ask the question and hold them to it and say, “How long is it going to take till I get a draft?” And make sure that you’re very clear on that subject.

What would you say a reasonable time estimate is for to be able to at least see the wireframe or the back-end?

It’s hard to say because I don’t know the scope of what we’re talking about a particular project. All I can say is, at this particular point in time, I just did a site for a podiatrist, took us five days. It’s a pretty in-depth site. But there was an urgency, there was a pressing need that we were able to accommodate. It also has taken us three weeks, four weeks in order to develop a first draft, because it was very complex. But it’s got to be somewhere in that range, right? We’re not talking about two, three months in order to see a draft of a standard WordPress site. That’s not correct. Something’s wrong in that picture.

Will my site work on desktop and tablets and phones?

My response is very simple. Mobile first. You’re the analytics expert, Mike, and I think you would agree with me that in most scenarios, probably 50% or more of traffic is coming from mobile devices. Therefore, why would we not build with the idea of mobile first? And ensure that we have a responsive site that works well on any device that is coming to the site.

Sure. For a lot of direct to consumer brands, it wouldn’t even be uncommon to see mobile traffic in the 70 or 80 percentile. Google crawls websites to determine search engine rankings, positions, they scan from a mobile side. So if your site’s not mobile responsive, you’re automatically going to be put to the bottom of the list.

I think that’s the answer, Mike. It’s obvious that these days it is unquestionable. If you don’t have a site that looks great on mobile, there’s something not right with that picture.


What will I need to provide to you to get started?

Okay, so say you’ve moved past all these points, and as a client, I’m here, I’m ready to get started. I decided X firm is the company I’m comfortable with, they seem like they can create the vision I want, they have the resources and the numbers work out. Then what? Usually it begins, this is where the biggest hold up can come, when it comes to providing the design assets. And here’s what’s needed, whether it’s logos or access to hosting or product imagery. What’s usually, in your experience, that are the best process for making this initial build as smooth as possible?

I think it’s about getting everything that we need or we know that we’re going to need as early on as possible. I think that in the beginning a client has just made a payment to you, they’re excited, they’re energetic about their project, about getting it done. I think at the very soonest as we can, get a full list of action items to them. Whether it’s in the form of a list or the form of some other way, that’s really important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it, where we can’t get access to hosting for whatever reason and it’s a hold up. This kind of thing is unnecessary.

 

How does the design process work?

That’s why right out of the gate, day one, from onboarding, these questions should be asked. I can say, again, from our experience and from our point, what we do is we send out a link to a form that is for onboarding, for new development. It has probably, I would say 25 or 30 questions on it. We ask as much info as possible to be completed. And it puts us in a position where it puts us ahead of the curve. Those questions go straight into our project management tool. Everything is there. Our developers, our team, everybody involved can see all of it in one place, and I suggest that that’d be the best way to do it moving forward.

I think it’s a matter, again, of being clear on what the design process is. If you had transparency, if you as the web developer are saying to your clients, “We’re going to get you a design draft in two weeks,” well, you better get a design draft to them in two weeks. I think that’s what it is. I think it’s about ensuring you have all the questions answered. All of your onboarding questions are handled right away. It’s a matter of just, again, rolling up the sleeves, doing the work, and getting the first draft out as soon as possible.

 

Do I own my design and website once its completed?

Number one, all work that we do, it’s owned by our clients. We are simply being hired in order to design/develop a product that belongs and is owned by our clients. Period. End of story. I just want to make a mention to our listeners though, that it’s important to note that whomever is your host, wherever your hosting company is, essentially that’s where all the data is stored, all the information is there. So if you happen to have a host that’s a Joe Schmoe somewhere, and Joe Schmoe is having a bad day, he or she can turn off access of that website being published to the internet. So it’s very important that if that is the case, to make sure that you have a backup, you have cPanel access, and there is some frequency in which a site’s backup is being downloaded and you have access to so it can be, G-d forbid if there’s some problem, it can be reset somewhere else.

If I need hosting or a domain name, do you set that up?

So if the domain name needs to be purchased, if they need hosting, I think it’s just about being educated, right? Could we go into our GoDaddy account or as some other registrar and purchase the domain for them? Yes, we could. But the better thing to do is make sure that they are the owner of their domain name so they can maintain ownership of that. Essentially you’re leasing it, there’s really no ownership because you don’t pay your fee, you’re not going to own it anymore.

That goes the same with hosting. We have VPS hosting for all of our clients. It’s a tremendous, I believe, service, and speeds are magnificent. Again, we are hosting, but we have to ensure that our clients have access at whatever level they feel comfortable and to ensure that backups are available. That’s really, in my opinion, the only way to do it.

We have two more questions that we think are very important to ask any web development company before you hire them.

What do you do with ongoing updates and maintenance? Are you involved? Is everything to be done myself? Do I have to go to some third party?
That is a very important question. I think there’s really two scenarios that this can play out on. If the client has technical abilities and they would like to be involved and they understand exactly what’s required and what the risks are of maintaining it themselves, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very easy to do, just needs to be done correct. If you don’t maintain your WordPress or you let plugins become depreciated, then your site could get hacked, you could see performance issues, the site can start crashing. If it’s not something that you can actually devote time and you have somewhat of a technical understanding of how to maintain a WordPress site, then it would probably be best to have someone who is knowledgeable and will stay on top of it, complete these tasks.

Agreed. Mike, it’s, look, you’ve spent money to develop something great. It’s like having… You’ve gone and bought a really nice car. What are you going to do? Are you going to not put oil in there? Are you not going to put gas in there? Are you going to put the lowest level stuff you can? Are you not going to wash it? It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. You own something. You’ve built something. The best way to look at it is to take care of it, ensure that all the plugins, the core, the theme, et cetera, are all updated properly. A WordPress site doesn’t just exist out of nowhere, it is something that works. There are many things working in concert together to publish and to show your site on the internet. Very important to maintain it properly and make sure that it’s done right.

 

Do you guarantee your work? What is the warranty? Is there warranty at all?
So anyone who is reputable would certainly stand behind their website and their finished product. It’s certainly a important question that needs to be addressed before engaging in any sort of scope of work, and it needs to be outlined. Because once the project’s completed, is it just handed off and there’s no more communication or is someone still going to be behind it? I think at a bare minimum, there needs to be a clause in whatever contract you have that would include, at a bare minimum, 30 days worth of additional maintenance or bug fixes as necessary. Once you get to say live, oftentimes there’s things that can be missed, broken links or an image that isn’t compatible, and someone would need to be able to get in and fix that. And I couldn’t think of any worse feeling than paying whatever amount of money you paid for your website, then all of a sudden you’re getting another bill to fix something that should’ve been fixed, just because me as the client missed something when I was checking it off before the handoff.

I agree totally. Yes, yes, I agree. And having that ability to reach out to one contact person and feel good about the relationship and make sure that your questions and your issues are taken care of, I mean it’s at the core of customer service and making sure you do the right thing. The end of the day, we wish that all companies at all times would do the right thing. Unfortunately, in our experience, that’s not always the case. But if you ask these questions, if you get specific responses and you make sure you are satisfied completely with the responses. Because if you’re not, again, if you’re not happy in the sales process, imagine how unhappy you will be once you actually work with the company and they have little to no incentive to continue to perform.

And certainly as a developer and as part of a development company, if they’re building quality products, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about when the handoff’s complete and being able to guarantee the work. Unless there’s something that they’re doing to take shortcuts, then that should be one of the easiest questions that anyone can ask. And as far as the red flags, sure, some of them may come up and I think that really needs to be a business question, if that’s something that you as a business owner or a business manager are willing to take. If you’re more risk-adverse then maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal. However, if time and resources are of value, then certainly these would not want to be overlooked.

Mike, I really liked how you said that. And at the end of the day, take these questions as a starting point. Make sure you do the research. Find quality people to work with. Make sure they have great reviews. Make sure they’re quality, the products that they give to you are of all high level, and you’ll have the best shot at having a great website in the not too distant future.