Best Digital Agency Practices

Website Design: How to choose the best firm.

Use this cheat sheet when writing your next Website RFP.

Choosing an agency to design your next website can feel extremely overwhelming. Believe us, we know. Having sat across from dozens and dozens of website shoppers over the years, and having designed and developed quite a few ourselves – we know the decision is one of high stakes.

If you choose the wrong website design company, you’ll be up the creek and knee deep in the money you just threw away. Here’s what’s at risk:

  • Discovering soon after that you can’t update the content on the website without calling the website design firm who built it for you to make the change. And guess what? They want to charge you for every change.
  • Seeing a decrease in traffic to your website because the website is not properly optimized for the search engines. Read how to avoid SEO blunders and mistakes here. 
  • Finding the website is missing key areas of content your audience needs and/or wants. When you are in the midst of a website project, often necessary content areas are completely overlooked.
  • Realizing you chose a content management system (CMS) owned by the firm, which means you website will be out of date in no time.

Interview questions for your website design firm.

When you are shopping for a Columbus web design firm here is a cheat sheet of interview questions. Bring this with you before your meeting with a website design agency and you’ll be completely prepared.

Q. What CMS will my website be built in? 

A. Should be: an open source CMS like WordPress. Unless, you have a large eCommerce website, WordPress is just fine. CNN.com is an example of a Website built in WordPress, for example. Because it is open source that means your website will outlive your relationship with the website design and development firm. And, in many cases, that’s a good thing. Just in case you need to part ways or if you want to take the website in house and manage it without a marketing firm.

Q. Will my website be optimized for search? 

A. Should be: yes, obviously. But they all say “yes”. Most websites today are naturally optimized for search because the all come with the following: ability to easily change content on a page, ability to easily change metas and page title descriptions, ability to alt text to images, etc. But, dig deeper and ask them the next question.

Q. Aside from the basic search optimizations standard on most website’s today? How else will you be optimizing my website to maximize search rankings? 

A. Should be: we will begin our project by assessing your current website’s traffic and the keywords driving traffic to the site. We will take those keywords, conduct new keyword research and then develop a site map of content based on the best keywords (highest search volume, lowest competition) and the content that your audience is already using on your website. This keyword driven site map will determine what content we create for your website. To that end, we will be writing all of the content for your website and every single page will have loads of optimized, engaging and authentic content.

Q. What happens after launch? Do you provide training on how to use my new website?

A. Should be: Yes, we provide training for your staff in our office or yours. We can also provide a video training series so they can watch them over and over again at their own convenience.

(Hint, look for these hours in your contract or scope of work. If the hours aren’t in the budget your website firm may not take this as seriously as they need to. You should budget at least 10 hours of training for each staff member who will use the website.) 

Q. What happens if we go over budget? Do you charge by the hour or is this a flat project fee? 

A. The answer depends on the agency. Cement delivers anything within the defined scope of the project at a flat fee. However, if you, as the client, request a change or an add-on to your website expect an additional bill for that work. But not without a warning and sign off, first. You should never receive an invoice from your digital marketing agency that you did not approve first.

Q. Walk us through your design process? How do you ensure your clients are happy with the finished product? 

A. Your firm in question should have a defined process to show you from site maps all the way up to launch. This should include: keyword research and data analysis, site map creation, wireframe creation, design creation, and then development, testing and launch. And don’t forget about content. Ask them how content plays into design. For example, which comes first? My content or my design? At Cement, content is always first. We find it tough to design a home page, for example, without knowing what the precise message will be.

We hope this helps you in your website RFP, RFQ or interview process. Remember, call references! Lots and lots of references. Ask their clients how the firm handled all of the above. View websites designed in Columbus, Ohio by Cement Marketing here.