Trying to create an online presence all by yourself can be a daunting process. You need a website that looks professional, stands apart from the competition and represents your company well. So how do you know that you are hiring the right person/team?
We’ve seen people fall victim to poorly chosen web professionals again and again… and we’ve been brought in to clean up the mess. One client, an insurance group in Bridgeport, CT came to us after their website was programmed by an individual who not only created their website without a back-end, but who “lost the passwords” to the C-panel, preventing them from ever doing work on the website without going through him. They would have been okay with this situation, but it was the last straw when it took him two weeks to change the misspelled name of one of the lead partners on the homepage of the website!
Since many of OSO Web Studio’s clients found us after frustrating searches for programmers and web professionals, we thought that it only made sense to let you know some of the tricks of the trade that we have shared with our clients along the way.
What Work Have They Done?
For reputable web professionals, this should be a very easy question for them to answer. They should have portfolio of work that they’ve done, and you should be able to visit these sites in real-time, pointing and clicking to your heart’s content. If you’re talking to a company that isn’t able to provide you with reference sites, that’s a huge red flag. Along similar lines, if you’ve been pointed to a few of the company’s sites, and you’re getting a “feeling” from them that doesn’t mesh with your own ideas, this is a point to bring up. Different personalities and ideas of creativity can clash, but professional web people are willing to listen and put you, the client, first on their list. If you notice things that are unsettling or don’t match your ideas, bring them up to your company representative, and gauge their reaction. Someone that stands by their work as “the only way it should be” is likely hard to work with, but if you approach someone with a few concerns, and they talk through your thoughts with you, they might be an ideal business companion.
Is Their Work All-Encompassing?
When you’re shopping for a company that can help you create a site (or one that can help you take your site to the next level), there are a lot more moving pieces than you may realize at first. As you’re checking out your potential partner company’s work, take note of things you are particularly interested in. Is the graphic design particularly attractive? Do you love the way certain things are worded on the pages? Often times, website development encompasses a small force of workers that offer their own specialties up to the project to bring it to completion. You might find a web designer that is great at designing websites, but doesn’t really have connections in the realms of content writing or graphic design. As you’re shopping around, check with companies to see if their work is all-encompassing (i.e., is there a graphic designer and content writer on-staff or readily available) or will you need to shop around to find your own freelancers to complete the rest of your project?
Do You Understand the Fee Structure?
Being handed an enormous bill that is three times what you were expecting is no fun, no matter what you’re talking about. When we’re talking about your company and the website design that is accompanying your online presence, understanding the fee structure is imperative. There are several ways in which a project like this could be paid: you can pay via a set sum on the project, per hour, or in pieces. In any case, it is vital that you understand how you’re paying, and you need to understand what is going into the time and money that will eventually produce a bill. If the fee structure doesn’t make sense, ask questions! And if the answers to your questions don’t seem sufficient, it may be time to keep shopping.
Do You Know How You’ll be Billed?
Are you able set particular milestones for which you’ll pay when they’ve been reached? Will you simply receive a monthly bill? Are you going to be required to make payments at regular intervals, even if the work is still in progress? Understanding how you’ll be billed (and the expectations that the company will have with regard to your payment) could ultimately affect the entire project.
Can You Talk to Their References?
This might even be the place where you want to begin your search, rather than just a follow-up on the references themselves. In many cases, you can find reputable web professionals by networking within your industry or by talking to other business owners in and around your community. Consider networking with other business owners, and ask them who they’ve gone to for their website needs. You may hear some sob stories and learn about people that you’ll want to stay away from, but at the same time, you may get some amazing references for companies that you wouldn’t have otherwise even known existed! If networking isn’t your thing, ask potential partner companies if you can talk to their references? Reputable firms will have a list of folks that you can speak to that will happily endorse their demeanor, prices, and ultimate product. If you can’t talk to any references, you might want to keep looking.
If you’re reading this article, we’re guessing that you might need a little assistance with web design or development yourself. If that’s the case, our team at Optimum Systems Online might be your perfect fit to help you get your site up and running. Want to learn how? Contact us, and let us tell you about our experience!