• Web Design
  • 20.01.20

Crucial Questions To Ask When Hiring A Web Design Agency

When hiring a web design agency, you may wonder about the types of questions you should ask. And how can you gauge which questions are worth asking? And how can you tell when you are getting the most truthful answers?

One piece of advice that we always give to our potential clients is to make sure they are speaking to as many web design agencies as possible. Do the due diligence.

Contact references. Review all options, ask the same questions, see how the responses differ, and read through their proposals carefully. 

Contact references. Review all options, ask the same questions, see how the responses differ, and read through their proposals carefully. 

You could ask hundreds of questions, but what are the right questions to ask? Remember, you are spending thousands of dollars so it’s worth taking your time.

You want to make sure that you know what exactly your money is going towards and that you are working with the right people. 

So in this blog post, I’m going to run through what I believe to be the most crucial questions to ask. 

Ask questions about the web design agency business itself…

You want to make sure that you are not just working with a talented group of people, but you are working with an agency that has a track record of delivering websites on-time and on-budget. You want to make sure you are working with an agency that knows how to manage itself.

You also want to make sure that the agency you are going to work with isn’t going to skip out on you. They need to have a track record of managing themselves well. 

Here are some questions I would advise asking so you can learn more about the business you might be working with:

1) How long have you been in business for?

This question is simple, but you want to make sure that your web design agency has been in business for at least a few years. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t necessarily go with a newly-formed agency, but you do want to make sure that the people who are running things have experience in the business.

2) How many websites have you worked on that are relevant to my industry?

If the agency hasn’t worked on any websites that are specifically in your industry, ask them to show you work that is relevant to what you want your website to be. By relevant I mean, have they built any websites that have similar designs and functions that you are looking for? If you want an e-commerce website and the agency doesn’t have e-commerce track record, they probably aren’t right for you. 

3) How big is your team? How many people are going to be on my team, specifically?

The team doesn’t need to be big, but it needs to cover the bases. You actually do want to make sure that you don’t have too many unnecessary people on your team. 

But you really should want to know exactly how many people are necessary to have on your project. Sometimes this means having one designer, one programmer, and one person who can manage the project. You definitely want a project manager on the team. Sometimes you just need one designer and one programmer and no more. 

4) Can you provide references that I can speak to directly?

This is important. You want to make sure that not only do the projects that the web design agency claims to have done actually have been completed, but that they are good to work with.

Make sure that you ask the agency to highlight exactly what the process was working with them.

Did they ever run into problems? How did the web design agency deal with running into problems if that was the case?

Ask questions about the process of creating your website…

Some agencies consist of a handful of freelancers that don’t really have a process for doing things. Other agencies have much more thorough processes in place.

You want to make sure that there is a mechanism in place to deal with unforeseen challenges. 

Other agencies have much more thorough processes in place. You want to make sure that there is a mechanism in place to deal with unforeseen challenges. 

You want to take this opportunity to scope out how the web design agency works through obstacles they run into. You want to know what it is going to be like to work with them from start-to-finish, from scoping to design to programming to quality assurance. 

1) How do you plan a project before working with me? 

The discovery process between the client and agency should cover enough of the bases so that an accurate proposal can be written.

The proposal should scope out the entire project from start-to-finish to make sure that no stone is left unturned when things begin.

There should be no misunderstandings on what the deliverables are going to be. 

2) Will you review my current website and analyze it before making your design decisions?

This is a specific question you need to ask if you have an existing website. Re-designing a website can be a dangerous game if you don’t have a baseline on how your current website is doing. 

Making changes without this baseline means that you can’t go back later to see what went wrong if you have sudden dips in traffic with your redesign.

If you are redesigning your site, you should also make sure you are taking an incremental approach anyway and make sure that the agency is running the new site off of a demo and not tinkering with your live site until it’s truly ready.

Know what worked about the old site. Any good agency should be on board with this mindset. 

3) How much input will I have with my website’s design?

Make sure that you are working with an agency that is transparent with how they answer this question. How much of your input do they consider or do they just want to go their on way? On the other side of the coin, will the agency let you know if they think you are making a misguided decision? 

Good web design agencies keep a delicate balance.

Your website is truly yours. It should be what you want. But you also hired an agency to come up with good decisions for you and direct you if you aren’t making the right ones. 

4) What do you need from me to get started?

This is an opportunity to see what you need to provide, versus what the agency will provide. Usually, you will need to provide any images, text, or other content you want on your site. But some agencies may include this or offer it as part of a greater package. 

5) How does communication work? Who will I be in contact with throughout the project?

Having a consistent point-of-contact who can guide you through what is happening is crucial. It’s also crucial who your point-of-contact is. 

You usually want to make sure you are speaking to either a project manager or account manager who knows your website very well, all of the moving pieces, and who is working on it. 

You also want to know how often you’ll be communicating. Weekly meetings? Bi-weekly? Make sure you are on the same page on how often the communication is happening. 

6) Will I be able to see my website as you’re creating it?

You should be able to always have access to your demo website that is available for viewing during each phase. You should be able to make suggestions, changes, or content edits. If an agency doesn’t offer this, that’s a bright red flag. 

Ask questions about who is working on your website, pricing, what happens after things are done, and other potential what-ifs…

1) Will you be outsourcing any of the work on my website?

Some agencies use a mix of in-house and outsourced contractors.

Outsourcing isn’t a bad thing, and some components should be outsourced to keep costs down. But you should have a breakdown of what is being outsourced and what is being made in-house.

You should know that all of the people working on your website have their credentials.

2) How do you price your services?

This is something that you need to know out of the gate, as agencies can price themselves differently in terms of structure. Some are set-rate, others are hourly.

If the agency is paid hourly, make sure that you are getting a breakdown of what is being delivered with those hours and that you aren’t paying for mistakes that the agency is making.

There are many things that can happen to cause delays. Set-rate tends to be the better way to go, since any delays caused by the agency won’t be on your bill. 

3) Who owns the website assets during the project? Who owns them after the project is over?

Make sure that you are clear about this. Some agencies will still own your website even after the project is over.

4) Do you provide any warranties or coverage during and after my website has launched?

While reputable agencies should be testing the quality of your website before launch, things happen. Bugs arise. Issues that weren’t seen before can emerge once real users are navigating your site.

We say make sure that you are covered for at least the first 90-180 days of your website’s launch.

You don’t want to be on the hook if your website breaks down early on in that crucial launch window. 

5) What happens if I want to change my scope of work during a project?

Most agencies will charge more for adding to scope to the scope of work during a project. This is normal, but make sure you know exactly how much more you are paying and how it’s arranged.

6) Do you offer a contract?

If the web design agency doesn’t offer a contract before the project begins, that’s a red flag. And always make sure that you thoroughly understand the contract you are signing and have an attorney review it!

7) How many revisions do I get? 

Make sure you know throughout each step of the process, from wireframes to programming how many revisions you get is something you need to know. You want to make sure you and your agency are on the same page about the cost of revisions, if there are any. 

This list still scratches the surface of the kinds of questions you should ask…

I would like to personally wish you the best of luck in your journey of finding a website design agency. 

My hope with this list is that you can get the conversation started with each web design agency you seek out, and that they are happy to offer you many more details. Make sure there are no misunderstandings, and that you are getting exactly what you are paying for. This is your opportunity to dig and scrutinize as much as possible. It’s your money!

If you have any questions for me, please let me know. I’m always happy to answer any more questions that you may have about hiring the right web design agency. 

    Stay tuned!

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