Web design: 5 essentials to appointing the right supplier

A company received an offer to develop their website that they felt they couldn’t refuse. It was much lower than mine, and I did query how the supplier could get it done to a high enough standard within that cost. I couldn’t help it...I doubted the quality.

Once the site was live, they started to regret their decision. The low cost now didn’t seem as good as it had in the beginning.

Some key things were wrong:

  1. Not mobile friendly and responsive - the site –which wasn’t that old– was not responsive (i.e. built for smartphones and tablets)
  2. No analytics - it didn’t have reporting built into it so there was no way to tell how much traffic it was getting
  3. Technically outdated -  it was built in a way that sites were built back in the mid 2000’s
  4. Poor customer service - they started to find it very difficult to get hold of the supplier to make any changes to fix the above issues and several more

The inevitable result was more investment to get it right.

Now, this is not a new story. I’m sure you know of people who’ve had a similar situation and you may even relate more closely to this than you’d like.

The thing is, this situation can be avoided by having good solid foundations; by having clarity right at the start of the project.

Here are 5 essentials to avoiding that ‘too good an offer to refuse’ syndrome.

1. Get clarity - make sure you know what it is you need

This might sound obvious, but saying you want an updated website, based on x or y site, won’t provide enough information for any supplier worth their salt.

This is where you need to get some help to identify the right questions to ask of yourselves, to work out what it is you really need from your website and not just what you feel you want.

It is so critical to have clarity at this stage so you can clearly share this with your potential suppliers, to give them a solid understanding of your website objectives and how they fit into your business objectives.

This is essentially what our Clarity Workshops provide, and spending money at this stage –to get a solid foundation– can save you having to spend even more money a short while later to completely rebuild your site.

2. Creative website brief - make sure you have a rock solid brief

Following on from gaining clarity through a workshop, you’ll then need a solid website brief.

This can be more difficult to put together if you have no experience of writing one. That’s why we wrote a whole post on this subject to help you.

It is critical you have a document that outlines precisely what you expect and need from the website, along with expectations of support after it goes live.

3. Designer’s real life portfolio - look at the supplier's past work

Don’t just look at their portfolio, but check out the actual sites themselves. How do they seem? Are they easy to navigate? Does the brand come across clearly? Are the call to actions clear?

Every web company will be different. Some may have a specific focus such as certain types of clients they deal with.

Don’t necessarily just look at those who have produced sites in your industry. Sometimes this can mean your website ends up looking very similar to the competition. However a company that has a lot of experience in your industry will of course have a more immediate understanding of your market.

4. Web designer references - ask for references

Talk to a few of the potential suppliers’ clients. Some key questions to ask are:

  • What was it like working with them?
  • Did the project run to budget?
  • What were the major hurdles to overcome with the supplier?
  • How were they solved?
  • Did they regularly communicate with you and how?
  • Would you work with them again?

Depending on your values, you may prefer a more collaborative approach to building your site. If that’s the case, also ask whether it felt like the supplier was part of your team or just an outsourced supplier fulfilling a specific function.

5. Social proof - check their blog and social media channels

It’s so much easier to check out companies these days via any number of social media channels alongside their website.

LinkedIn is a key channel to review, to see if they have any references and recommendations here too.

If they use Facebook regularly check out some of the discussions with customers they may have had.

Take a look at their website’s About page and their blog to see if you can find out more about their approach and the perspective they are coming from when developing websites.

Get clarity before appointing a web designer

I hope this post helps you save money by getting clarity and making the right decisions early on, before commissioning your website project.

Our Clarity for Website or Clarity for Branding workshops can help you get clarity for your website project. To see which would be the most appropriate for you, book a Clarity Assessment to begin the process. If you have any questions about the Clarity Assessment or this post, just email me via the contact page