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Top 10 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Hiring Your Next Web Design Agency

[lead]Sure, you’ve gone through the process. You feel good about the three agencies you’ve interviewed and you’re down to the lucky winner. Not so fast. We’ve compiled a list of things you should ask yourself before signing that web design contract. Check these off your list and you can go ahead and slap your name on the paper.[/lead]

Do they really know you?

Some people are incredibly gifted… at sales. They said the right things. They made you feel good about the investment. But do they really understand your goals? If you had to ask them right now why you’re undertaking this process, what would they say? And does that align with your goals?

Do they really know your audience?

Face it. This website isn’t about you. And it’s definitely not about the agency you’re about to hire. It’s about the eyes on the other end of the screen. Do you feel confident that your potential web design partner understands them and their needs?

Do they really know your competition?

How much research have they done on your competition? Do they understand the marketplace? Do they know why you’re different? Do they know what they have to do to make you stand out and put your best features first? Would they even know who your competition is?

Do they own the talent?

Outsourcing can be a wonderful tool to help get experienced hands on deck when needed. But you should be aware of it. Further, even if the firm does outsource (and they disclose that), do they at least have talent in-house in the same discipline? That can make all the difference in ensuring that the outsourced partner is appropriately quality controlled.

Do you understand the contract?

Good contracts make good friends. Is the scope of work clearly worded? Do you understand it? Is it all legalese or is there 100% transparency between what you’re expecting and the money they’re expecting?

Are they willing and ready to train your team?

Editing a website is as easy as authoring a Microsoft Word document. For some people. If you’re not familiar with the content management system they’re intending to use, make sure they’re willing to give the time to get you up to speed and comfortable. If they haven’t mentioned a content management system, run.

Are you ready to give the time needed to make the project a success?

Project management is key on your agency partner’s end. It’s also critical on your end. Do you have a clear outline of the expectations for your time in the process?

Who’s writing the content?

If the subject of content hasn’t come up, it’s very likely they’re expecting you to deliver the content. Were you aware of that? Do you have the time and marketing insight to appropriately write content for your target audience?

Who’s hosting the website?

Similarly, if this hasn’t come up in conversation, it’s likely they’re expecting you to handle the technical details of keeping the website up. If you’re not ready for that, perhaps you should punt. If your digital agency agrees to host, ensure that you’re aware of what the expectations are for you and your team. Will they be handling the updates to the CMS? Who do you call if there’s a problem? Depending on the service level, you want that to be your agency contact, not a third party hosting platform. Even though they may use a third party host (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that), you don’t want to triangulate with a critical issue.

Additionally, make sure that everything is backed up on at least a weekly schedule.

How are you going to measure success?

You’re just about to sign the paperwork with a digital agency, but have you decided how you’re going to measure success? When this process ends, what do you want to see to be able to call it a success?

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Walk West

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