Asides from discussing the design and the obvious questions of “how long?” and “how much?”, there are a number of important questions to ask your web designer / team before you proceed with any web project.
The devil is in the detail when it comes to web work, and more often than not, there is a lot of assumed knowledge and understanding from both sides of the project. This can lead to blown out timeframes, unexpected bills and ultimately, frustration towards your web project.
To help combat these unwelcomed frustrations, below are some key questions to discuss openly with your web team:
Can you send me a list of links to websites you have developed previously?
These should be live links so you can check out completed works, do not accept mock-up designs or screenshots – you need to investigate the functionality of the site. It is important to remember that a developer’s works are sometimes restricted by their client’s own design and functionality, so if something doesn’t look right, an open discussion with the developer should clear up any questions you may have.
What are the assumed agreements when it comes to costs?
More often than not, changes will need to made throughout the project once everything has already been signed off. Ask your team how they manage out of scope updates and how many rounds of edits are included in the cost you are signing off on. The aim of this is to keep things transparent. The last thing you want is an unexpected extra bill at the end of the project, so work this out in writing early on in the discussion stage.
This is important to understand before you agree to any builds or updates to your site. Will you have access to and training for the platform as part of this project? Is the platform being used highly customised (also known as ‘closed source’) or is it user friendly? What is the name of the platform being used (IE: WordPress, Magento, Pegboard)? If for whatever reason in the future you move away from your current web team, you need to ensure that whoever takes the reigns is;
Once the project is complete, who can make changes later down the track and to what parts?
A) Familiar with the platform and the coding environment used and;
B) You are able to make content changes yourself if need be
Will my website be mobile responsive and how do you test the site prior to launch?
First and foremost, your website absolutely must be mobile responsive – identify whether this is included in your cost or if it is being treated separately. These days, all websites should be built to be mobile responsive, so if they are charging you a significant separate amount if you want it to have mobile responsive functionality, you should be able to question them on this. It’s also important to know how they are testing your project to ensure a consistent user experience across different browsers and devices.
What is the expected timeframe, assuming no major hurdles?
Your web team should be able to advise on how long they envision the project will take to complete, make sure the answer they give you includes time for review and testing. Ask what they need from you and by when (whether it is finalised content or sign offs) to keep everything on track. It is important to remember that delays in supplying content, getting things signed off and changes along the way may impact your timeframe. Open communication throughout the project will help manage delivery expectations on both sides of the project.
Ask your web team what details they will need from you to launch your site, this will include things like domain, server and Google Analytics details. Your web team should be able to explain all of this for you and instruct you if you need to organise anything on your side prior to launch. Make it clear who is responsible for organising what and by when to avoid any last minute rush-arounds.
What details do you need from me?
What other services do you provide?
All good websites need to be maintained regularly to ensure they are performing in accordance with best practice and meet the ever-changing requirements of search engine authorities, like Google. Ask your team if they can provide maintenance and other services that will improve your site’s digital authority, such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).