So you need a killer website for your business. Starting your search for the best web vendor can bring many questions. What qualities and skills do I need to look for when choosing a site developer? Why should I hire someone else versus doing it myself? The search for a great web agency can be daunting, but with these ten tips, you’ll be ready to trust a developer and sign the contract in no time.

    1. Establish Your Website GoalsThink about what you want to accomplish with your website since this will affect specific features and elements in the overall site planning. For instance, if you want to sell products, your site will need ecommerce features. Questions to ask yourself include:

      Do I want to generate more overall business or brand awareness?
      Will there be a blog, contact form or email signup?
      Do I have a video to add to showcase services or products?

      Having a list of goals and site features in mind will help you focus your intentions. Make sure your web vendor understands how the website design will function to accomplish these goals and features.

    2. Determine Your Availability & Time
      Designing a website is no exception to the need for time. Along with an engaging site, there are an array of features that need to be present. There are so many things to consider that it’s easy to inadvertently waste time instead of helping progress your business. While you are likely already cramming more things into your schedule, do you really want an intricate web design process to take over those other calendar commitments? This is where the professionals come in and why an entire career field has been dedicated to web design – because it takes that much time to create! Time is definitely an important consideration here. It is important to make sure the designer you choose has a good grasp on how to run their time to meet reasonable deadlines so neither of you end up running around in circles with no end in sight. By establishing respectful, realistic expectations of time from both the client and web vendor you will be setting yourselves up for success.

    3. Evaluate Your Budget
      Take an honest look at your budget. Figure out exactly how much you can spend, allowing padding in this number for any extra unplanned services you might add on. Most agencies do not publish their pricing, because every web project and build are unique with varying levels of development. Don’t limit yourself to only one option, but rather shop around and get quotes from a few vendors.You ultimately want to make the right decision on which agency you choose to invest in. Keep in mind that quality work comes with a quality price. Your investment in a good web vendor will yield you a greater business return.
    4. Ensure Reliable Communication
      Communication! It is so important to make sure you, your designer and your developers are on the same page so that no misunderstandings take place during such a valuable time and money venture. You want a designer and account executive that is going to listen to your ideas, hear you out and value your company vision. Is the designer able to communicate with you in an understandable way? The rapport here should be able to flow both directions.

    5. Assess Their Experience
      Take a look at their portfolio, testimonials, or case studies. Check out their live websites and those they have worked on in the past.

      • What is their client retention rate?
      • Have they won any awards for their work?
      • What is the legacy and reputation being built?
      • Do they have experience working with a client or business like yours?

      Ideally, if you can find a vendor that has worked with a variety of clients and industries, with a good portfolio to back this up, you can be confident that they have some valuable expertise to offer you. Don’t be afraid to directly ask for these references.

    6. Find Out if They Work with SEO
      Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential these days. The web vendor you go with should offer SEO services as these are essential to your site receiving increased traffic, particularly from organic internet searches. An agency should have a good grasp on how to compose SEO words and phrases, understanding what it is people will be searching for as they are looking for a website like yours to pop up. SEO is about long term maintenance, so find a vendor who has the know-how to update your site and SEO settings on a regular basis.
    7. Ask About CMS & Website Maintenance
      After your website launches, you will likely need to be able to make updates as needed. For example, you might want to post weekly blogs or have a need to switch out photos or copy. This is why it is important that your web agency has a Content Management System (CMS) available for you to use. While the vendor should indeed be able to help you with anything that goes wrong with your site, a CMS allows you to post yourself from the backend of the site. Ask your web vendor about their CMS of choice. They should also be willing to train you how to use the CMS for these purposes. What good is a CMS if you do not know what to do with it?
    8. Find Out About Their Design Style
      How are they with the actual web design and development process? Your vendor should be invested in keeping up with the latest design trends, yet still be able to tailor the design to your business style and brand.You do want your website to be attractive, but remember there are more things that go into a successful website than appearance, such as:

      • A user-friendly website; yielding more visitor engagement
      • A seamless site map; designing your site for optimal functionality so your visitors do not end up frustrated.
      • Responsive design knowledge; understanding how to make your site work on smaller screens
    9. Freelancer Vs. Agency
      Think about what type of web vendor you want. If you go with a freelancer schedule a full interview, complete with references and all the topics discussed above. It’s important that a freelancer knows how to regulate time and won’t have you waiting around endlessly for your website to go live. Decide if a single person or a group of people are best for your needs. An agency will typically cost more, but the amount of resources and expertise make up the cost worth investing in.
    10. Find an Agency with a Marketing Team
      The benefit to having a marketing team is that you get a group of collaborators lending their expertise in more areas than with only a web vendor or freelancer. If you can find a developer with a digital marketing team, then you’ll be confident that they really understand how to make your business more successful. These days a social media marketing plan is just as important as having a fantastic page to send people. Integrating your marketing tactics will be important for your website. Having strategy and specific call-to-actions can convert people browsing into clients, making a digital marketing team the icing on the cake.

      Now go forth and find your perfect web vendor! This is an exciting time as you take steps to direct the future of your company and you want someone who is going to be right there celebrating your successes as they happen.