As an entrepreneur, you know that a great website is critical to your success. But how do you go about finding and hiring a vendor to create or redesign your site? In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on how to interview and hire a website vendor. With a little careful planning, you can ensure that your website project is successful from start to finish. Read on to learn more!
When forming a solid plan for any project, it’s important to make a list of the must-haves and nice-to-haves in terms of functionality. The must-haves section serves as the foundation for the project and usually contains elements that are essential for optimal functionality. This functionality should be researched extensively so that all features work properly. The nice-to-haves list focuses on functionality that would be beneficial to include within the project but may not be necessary. By separating functionality into two different buckets, it’s easier to determine what’s needed and what can be excluded to maximize efficiency and stay within budget. The functionality will be a key factor in determining the cost of a website. For example, if you need the website to collect contact data and send contacts automating emails and text messages, then you are likely going to need a CRM (Client Relationship Management System) integrated into your website. If you need the website to collect payments, that would require a payment processor integration.
When researching potential website vendors, it is important to take the time to consider their past work. Check out the features they have built into past sites and look for examples of features that match what’s on your list. You should also consider their design portfolio. Do their websites look and feel like something that matches your branding and the user experience you want to create? You can read customer reviews online but keep in mind that marketing vendors are really good at marketing themselves and creating more hype than what their work has earned. The most reliable insights come from their past work so ask to view samples of past websites they have built and designed. Note that design is just one factor and don’t get too carried away by how their work looks. Make sure that they can actually build sites that work the way yours needs to work. If you want an SEO-optimized site, for example, a company that can design a pretty site but doesn’t know how to manage tags and keywords may not be the best fit. Having an evaluation process like this is essential to ensure that you are getting quality work from an experienced vendor that will meet your unique needs. Here is a list of questions you can ask:
Use this list of questions to vet your website vendor. With this information, you can decide which vendor best suits the needs of your project.
Creating a budget for your project is essential as it gives you a better understanding of how your resources are allocated. When budgeting, it helps to make sure that you have a surplus budget in case there are any unexpected costs or changes needed. This is especially true when you have complex features that you need or integrations that may require software to be purchased on license in order for things to work. Most experienced vendors can anticipate these costs but even the best, most experienced, and brightest can come up against unexpected changes to platforms. Apps, plugins, and platforms change all of the time and will stop working the way they used to. This is normal. Your budget should include labor costs for design, programming, SEO, and copywriting, as well as costs for apps, platforms, and media that may be required to build your site the way you need it.
Getting quotes from multiple vendors can help ensure that you get the best product and price for your project. Make sure to be thorough when researching the vendor’s reputation because this will ensure that what you think you’re purchasing will ultimately meet or exceed expectations. Just make sure that the vendors you quote from are comparable in terms of skills and experience that are needed for your site. By taking the time to budget and get quality quotes from numerous vendors, you will be well on your way to achieving success with your project.
Asking the right questions when you interview candidates to build and design a site can be essential to making sure that you hire the best fit. It’s important to cover both technical and non-technical topics in your questioning, as that provides a well-rounded look at the vendor. Technical questions like the ones we suggested a few paragraphs back will allow you to gauge expertise, while company culture and personality inquiries may hint at how any particular vendor may interact with you and your team. Pay attention to how well they express themselves and how their communication style fits yours. Ask them about how they handle unexpected issues or what their policy is when it comes to communicating updates and progress reports. What if you change your mind about something midway? What will their process be to make adjustments? Will there be costs? With a variety of questions in mind, one can truly get an accurate representation of the experience you can expect when you work with them.
Before hiring a vendor, it’s important to be prepared to negotiate pricing, timelines, and scope of work. Negotiations are an important part of the process, as they can help ensure that both parties agree on all details before the job is started. If you don’t negotiate these details upfront, there may be unexpected surprises down the road. Discuss your expectations in advance with the vendor and come to an agreement on exactly what will be delivered, when it will be delivered, and at what price. This level of clarity helps avoid miscommunication later on and can ensure that everyone is happy with the end result. But please be reasonable with your negotiations. Sometimes it is better to pay a little extra or wait a little longer to give your vendor reasons to be thorough and detail-oriented with your project. A vendor may take on your project at a lower price or agree to deliver on a faster timeline to get your business but they also have a business to run and profits to protect so they may do so at the expense of the quality of your project. So make sure that you are being reasonable when you negotiate price and time.
When you select a vendor, always get the agreement between you and the vendor in writing before you start working with them. This is crucial to protect both parties, as it provides a clear record of expectations, deliveries, deadlines, payment arrangements, and creative rights.
Pay close attention to any language about what your responsibilities and rights will be. For example, if you have a timeline for the project and you take five weeks to respond to a vendor’s request for you to review and approve something, then understand that this delay on your part can add a four-week delay to that timeline if the original timeline had allotted a week for you to review something. Another common pain point is creative rights. Most website vendors will retain creative rights to the websites they build unless they are asked to release those rights to business owners. So make sure you do this to protect your rights over your own website.
Getting everything in writing helps ensure absolute clarity around what is promised by each side in order for the collaboration to be successful. It’s also an incredibly important step for managing legal considerations such as disputes or changes to terms down the road. Moreover, having these details in writing allows everyone involved much-needed peace of mind throughout your joint venture. If you and a vendor cannot agree on the terms in the agreement or legal language, you can move on to another vendor before it’s too late and you find yourself in an uncomfortable position.
By following these simple steps, you can set your project up for success by finding the right website vendor who will be able to meet your needs and deliver a high-quality product within your budget. Be sure to ask lots of technical and non-technical questions during the vetting process, get everything in writing before work begins, and don’t hesitate to negotiate pricing, timelines, creative rights, and scope of work until both parties have agreed upon the expectations. With a little bit of planning upfront, you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful website that meets all of your goals.