Sadly, in the past few months we have seen a sharp increase in the number of new clients that have come to us because of troubles with their current website designer, developer, or maintenance team. While this is good news for us, as we get the opportunity to set things straight, it generally comes after a bitter relationship between a small business and their website developer. Naturally, not all relationships are going to work and that is why we work exceptionally hard to ensure the communication channels are open with our customers and our own team and that we maintain solid control of the project at hand. That being said, here are a couple of things to look for when hiring a company to build or maintain your website:
- Learn About the Company’s History: While you don’t need a full history lesson here, it’s good to know how the business was started and what their goals today. If they aren’t talking about building relationships, customer service, or customer satisfaction, then be careful because you may be in for a rough ride. You need to make sure that you are dealing with a company who has the experience you are looking for and wants you to succeed as much as you do. A website company who is friendly, helpful, and always there to answer questions or provide advice. A good company knows that the two most important assets in their business is their customers and their employees. We feel that we meet and exceed all of those expectations, and we truly enjoy watching our clients succeed.
- Review Some Samples: This goes without saying but be sure to review some of the work they have done in the past and be sure it is visible online. Look for the name of the company affiliated with that website or ask if they would mind if you contacted that client as a reference.
- Talk to Their Clients: Very much like taking a walk in a neighbourhood that you are planning to move to and talking with the locals. It makes sense to have a quick chat with a few clients to get a feel for how they work. Chances are you would check the references of a person you were looking to hiring so it makes perfect sense to check some of the references for a website company that you are looking to market your business online.
- Ask Off-Topic Questions: If you are talking to someone that will be your main point of contact for this new relationship then this is a person you are going to need to trust, communicate with, and resolve issues with. It’s a good idea to learn a little bit about your contact without being too invasive. “Did you watch the game last night?”. “How was your vacation?”. A couple of simple questions can easily spark some great friendly chit-chat where you can learn a little bit about who you will be working with. You don’t have to have everything in common with them, but you also don’t want to be talking to a robot with the interpersonal skills of the largest pothole on your street.
- Sign A Contract: If you have it in writing then there is no debate regardless of how sour the relationship gets. While it would be nice if this never had to be done, the sad truth is that it’s beneficial to both parties. Website development is both creative and logical so it’s very easy to establish a difference of opinion. A well written contract can help mitigate issues that might arise during the course of the project.
- Ask About Support: One of the biggest issues we have found is that website designers are here and then gone. We have seen many clients that have had friends develop their websites for “cheap” or have family members, friends, or part-timers build their website when they finished working for the day, only to find that when updates needed to be made, the support was not there. Changes happen fast in business and many times you can’t sit around waiting or hoping for things to get done. You need to feel confident that in two years time, the support for the website you had paid for will be there. If you need to, get it in writing but better yet, find a company that has been supporting the same clients for years.
While this is not a complete list of items to look for, it’s a good start. Regardless of who you choose to design, build, or maintain your website, we only hope that you develop a solid, long term relationship that is mutually beneficial. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.