Remember, it’s important to choose a web designer or a web design company based on who you would like to form a lasting business relationship with.
Town Web Design has been in this business long enough to develop good working relationships with hundreds of municipalities. One thing we’ve noticed is that in our initial discussions our potential clients don’t always ask the most important questions. As an honest web design company, this is fine for us since we can steer the conversation in the right direction – after all, we want you to fully understand our process. Some companies might be less scrupulous, so we want to help you separate the good from the bad. Remember, it’s important to choose a web designer or a web design company based on who you would like to form a lasting business relationship with. Make no mistake, a meeting with a web design company is an interview. It’s essential to make sure their business is legitimate and get a sense of the personality and culture of the company. We’ve outlined eight questions to ask your web designer before making a hiring decision.
A good web designer will be upfront about fees. Be careful if they charge thousands for the design and then promise it will be cheaper thereafter. Any kind of vagueness is a red flag that could lead to nasty surprises later on. What’s included in the price – hosting, training, backup, technical aftercare? They should list transparent fees on their website like Town Web Design does. We charge $499 to get set up and with web hosting included the total increases to $588. No more, no less.
The structure and delivery of your website need thorough planning. Overall website functionality, content and aesthetics must be planned out, so you should ask about their web design process. Ask how they collate content and images, plus the amount of input needed from you. Sometimes web design companies also provide copywriting services, but in the case of a municipality, the content is usually supplied by the Town. Also, ask if they create wireframes. A wireframe is a visual representation of where images and content will be placed on the website and plans out everything with precision and forethought, leaving nothing to chance.
Make sure you set up and register your own domain name independently whether or not you choose to host your website with the designer or externally. Transferring ownership of domain names at a later stage can be a hassle and there’s always the chance that your web designer is no longer in business.
Hacking and other causes for a website to come down are huge and expensive inconveniences. What is your designer doing to counteract that? You should ask if your provider will provide daily backups and if they’ll they restore your site if necessary. This can cause thousands of dollars in technical service and downtime, so you should make sure they provide that insurance for you.
Ideally, you should have a good idea of what the final website will look like before building it commences. This is particularly true if you checked previous examples of the web designer’s work. However, in the unfortunate event that you don’t like the initial result, you should find out how many rounds of free revisions you are allowed and how much the designer will start charging thereafter.
The web designer should be able to answer questions about your new website’s tangible results, covering everything from saving money to saving time. Ask if they offer some kind of data platform such as Google Analytics which can show the demographics, location and device usage of visitors, as well as other important information. What specific features can your designer add to your site and how will they affect usage. For example, will they add an interactive calendar, online forms and agenda packets? Ask for examples of this on other websites they’ve designed and get them to explain the benefits of these features if they are not immediately clear.
Mobile usage is huge and most web traffic now comes from cell phones and tablets. It’s essential for your website to be optimized for mobile usage since municipal residents want to access information on the go, and if they can’t they’ll probably give up in frustration and find other sources of information. It’s not efficient or budget-conscious to have two separate sites for desktops and mobiles, therefore should ensure your designer creates mobile-friendly websites as standard.
The only constant in life is that things change. No doubt about it – your website will change at some point. Some companies charge hourly for these changes, while others set up a content management tool that makes it easy, fast and free to update content, upload images and add pages. At Town Web Design, we offer free unlimited training to update your own website and generally what we offer is more than enough for municipal websites. Other types of websites might require a professional programmer. Staff should ask if their content-management platform will allow them to add new forms, change animations, or create new types of page formats.