Deciding to create a website for your business or starting your own online business can be a scary overwhelming task. If you are not familiar with the online world or perhaps you are a regular online user but you do not have any experience with website design, development, how a website is hosted online or how a website uses digital marketing to be seen by your potential clients online. Then you are going to need to hire a company or individual who specialises in this sector.

In this blog post, we will give you some advice on what you should look for when hiring a web development company, agency or individual (freelance).

Salesman initial consultation

So, you have found a company and filled out a contact request form and now one of the salesmen/consultants have phoned you to discuss your website requirements.

This is your time to ask everything about their company, services and what is included in the website development package that they offer.

Do they seem genuine, do they seem like they know what they are talking about? A couple of questions i would suggest asking would be:

  • Will I have an assigned developer and can i call them/speak with them directly?
  • Can I speak to the developer prior to the sale?
  • Are there any additional fees on top of the website quotation you will give me?
  • Can I have the agreed list of features in writing?
  • What is your refund policy?

Like with all companies, salesmen who work for web agencies have targets they need to hit each month. So, do not let them push you into agreeing or signing up for anything first without doing your research.

Once they have finished their consultation, they will likely give you a price for your website and a timeline for completion. Take note of this and then tell them you will be in contact after reviewing. Trust me they will call you back after a while to follow up and try and complete the sale.

Reviews

Whilst the member of staff you have been speaking with during your first consultation will be quick to present you their amazing 5 star reviews, I would suggest you do a bit of research yourself to see the real reviews left by users who have hired their digital services, check for their company on all of the major review websites, Trustpilot, reviews.io, Google Reviews, this will provide you with a better understanding of the experience you will have working with that web development company.

Portfolio

Take a look at the websites they claim to have created, do they look well maintained, is there any evidence that they have created that website? (sometimes in the footer it will show who created it)

Quality of the website design, are there any issues you can see on the portfolio websites? You could even call the business they have listed on their portfolio to see if they have really been working with that website company and ask them about their experience.

Transparency

This is very important for your new online business, you most likely have a limited budget and need to know the company you use for building your website and providing your digital services for your website will help you succeed.

If they are not as good as they say they are, if they are going to build your website without any training provided to yourself for the CMS/admin then this will limit your success for your online venture.

Are they hiding hidden ongoing costs? After you spend your entire website build budget on the package you thought included everything to then discover in your contract you have unknowingly agreed to pay a monthly hosting fee this could leave you in the red before your new online business has even started.

Therefore make sure to read the reviews to see if anyone has reported hidden costs, or were promised things that they did not get. Read the terms and conditions and any contracts carefully before signing.

Ongoing costs

Be sure before agreeing on anything with a developer or development company that you are 100% aware of all of the costs involved. It is not unheard of for someone to be given a quote for a website and not being made aware that once the website has been developed that there is then an ongoing hosting fee.

So similar to the advice given in transparency, make sure the price they are quoting you for the website is the final price and there are no hidden charges. Do your Research, reads the terms and conditions and check the contracts they are asking you to sign.

If the company or individual does not provide hosting then bear in mind that you will need to then pay a separate company to host your website once they have completed the development of your website. (More on this in the hosting section below)

What SEO is included

SEO is one of the most important types of marketing for organic (unpaid) marketing, it is slow to progress and takes time. But if done correctly then it can be extremely lucrative, It is likely that a web agency, freelancer or individual will do the basic SEO practises to get you started but it is not unheard of that a developer will build you a website but will do zero SEO services unless you pay extra. So during your consultation check with the salesman to note exactly what is included within your website package. And make sure you get this in writing to prove what will be done.

The developers that work for that company

If you are deciding to use a larger web company because you believe this will be more beneficial for you, then you need to ask about the developers that are used, you need to know if they are going to produce something that is going to give you the best fighting chance for your new online business. An idea of some questions you could ask could be:

  • Who will be my developer
  • How many other projects will they be working on at the same time
  • How long have they worked at the company
  • Is he in house or remote (if remote where is he located)
  • Is he employed or freelance?
  • Does he specialise in the type of website I require (perhaps brochure, eCommerce, bespoke)
  • How will i be able to communicate with him during development of my website

Asking these questions will give you a good idea about the developers that work for the company.

Hosting services

You have found the company you want to build your website, you believe them to be up to the task of building a high-quality website, they are trustworthy, transparent, their reviews are good, and you are happy with the prices they have offered.

So how will your website be shown to the general public once it has been developed? You need Website hosting. You will need to check this before going with any company. Larger digital agencies tend to provide their own website hosting. This can be beneficial because of having the website they built, managed by the same company, meaning they know the in’s and out’s of the website and it is likely the first port of call you want for your web hosting.

But how reliable is their hosting? Do their servers go down a lot? Are they secure? Do they back up their websites? And of course what are the charges for their hosting.

If the company you are going with provides hosting then you need to see if you have free hosting included with your website, a common agreement for a website built by a medium/large digital agency is 12 months of hosting included with your website development.

Then once the 12 months is up there will be a discussion regarding hosting charges or if you want to move to a different provider.

If you are employing perhaps a freelancer or website developer who is just doing work on the side then it is possible you will arrange a fee with them to build the website and then you will need to upload your website to a server from another company.

If this is the case then you will need to check with the individual if he charges for uploading to an external server, this can be a complex task so try to make sure this is included.

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