The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Web Development Agency
A lot of companies are currently trying to sell their services on the web. But if you haven’t found what you need yet, it’s time to consider hiring a web development agency. An outsourced partner can help your business improve its digital presence and solve design, compatibility, functionality, or hosting problems.
There are many benefits to using an agency over performing the work yourself or getting sub-par service from an unqualified freelancer. Here are ten tips that will hopefully make your search for an agency easier.
Get Web Development Referrals
If you know someone who has used the web development services of an agency before, ask them for advice on one they’ve had experience with. If not, look around online for reviews on different agencies and see if you can find any comments on their services or communication skills.
Pay in Phases and Stay in Contact
Many web development companies provide payment plans to assist small businesses get off on the right foot. So, instead of paying the full sum up once, don’t be hesitant to ask for a monthly plan. Maintain contact throughout the process so that you are aware of the work progress. This will also allow you to express your worries before they turn into larger issues down the road.
Set Web Development Expectations
If you know exactly what you want out of your website, then communicate that clearly from the start. Hiring a web development agency is like entering into a business relationship, and both parties need to understand and be satisfied with the arrangement. Check out previous work and ask questions to ensure you’re 100% informed before you sign on the dotted line, so there are no surprises later.
Get a Sample of Web Development Work
Most web development agencies have examples of their best or most recent work on their website. So take a glance at their portfolio section or blog posts to learn more. This will give you an idea of the style this web agency employs for projects based on your industry, which is vital because every company has a personality that must be represented on their websites to connect with customers.
Ask for a Web Development Portfolio
If the agency doesn’t have a portfolio posted and cannot produce one during an initial meeting, that is a red flag. An experienced web development agency will show off their work and explain why they think it turned out so well for each project.
Compare Multiple Web Development Agencies
Once you’ve found some agencies you like, compare them side-by-side, so you know what your options are before making a decision. You’ll want to get price estimates from multiple agencies because rates vary based on the following factors:
- Company size
- Services offered
The average’ rate might be higher in some places, so it’s good to know where your money is going.
Ask for a Web Development Mock-Up
An agency should have no problems with providing you with a mock-up of your website when they are done working on it. Thus, put this on your list of things to ask for before signing the contract. This way, there is one last chance to compare expectations with reality before work begins in earnest.
Add Itineraries into the Deal
If you need specific changes or updates regularly made, then add that into the deal in writing. With this, both parties will be clear about how often and what kind of work needs to be performed. Avoiding misunderstandings about these details can save everyone involved a lot of time and money.
The agency should be able to give you a list of satisfied customers for reference. Therefore, take time to contact them and ask about their experiences with this professional. They must make it easy for you to check reviews on yourself since there are many online review sites where past clients go to share their opinions on working with different agencies. If they’re not listed, then find out why.
Get a Timeline for Delivery
If your website must go live by a certain date, make sure this is included in your contract with the agency. If something happens, that causes them to miss their goal. Then there should be a fee associated since they will have to work overtime which often yields additional charges. It’s also wise to build in extra time if things don’t go as smoothly as expected, so they’re not under too much pressure from you or deadlines from third parties that need access to the site after it goes live.
Ask about Data Storage Policies
Although this is not something most clients ask about, it’s crucial because you never know when you might need to access some old files or information. The last thing you want is for stored information to be gone forever if the agency gets hit by a bus or goes out of business. You should confirm that they will keep an archive of your content and even ask them how frequently they back up their data.
Ask about Backup Strategies
If you already have a hosting provider, confirm with the agency ahead of time which backup services they use so there aren’t any gaps in coverage. Otherwise, the agency should handle this for you, so you don’t have to worry about anything falling through the cracks.
Discuss SEO Procedures
Good SEO practices are no longer optional. Google has made it clear that they are more interested in showing users websites with fresh, relevant content, which is also easily accessible to their search bots. Make sure the agency is not just familiar with these details but can tell you how they will implement them on the site, so your business gets noticed by people actively searching for it online.
A majority of website visitors are browsing on smartphones and tablets. Ensure your agency knows this and has a plan to keep your site mobile-friendly (or responsive). This will help to reach as many customers as possible across all devices.
Get a Contract
Creating a contract is more important than some people realize. If you don’t have a contract, then the hired agency doesn’t have to honor it. They can do whatever they want with your money while you have very little recourse in getting it back. The best way to protect yourself is by having a contract that lays out all of the terms and conditions surrounding your web development work. Some of the things to include in the agreement are:
- Payment schedules
- Time estimates for when certain milestones must be met
Check Payment Policies
When an agency charges in advance, it’s usually a good idea to agree upon a payment schedule beforehand. This will help avoid confusion later on about when and how much money would be needed to get started. Make sure the contract includes a payment plan that outlines when you should make partial payments so you don’t end up with any unexpected expenditures. Before even larger sums of money are delivered to the professional, the web development agency must meet the progress milestones.
Find out How They Charge
Agencies can charge by the hour or per project. It’s somewhat common for them to use a hybrid model with an initial retainer fee and additional hourly fees depending on how much work needs to be done. Ensure you know all about their payment policies before you hire them because it will save you lots of headaches down the road if something goes wrong (it happens more often than not).
Review Terms & Conditions
Most agencies include terms and conditions pages on their website. Everything from how open they are, to revealing information online, to how disagreements should be handled is included in the policies. Ensure that all of this information is available on the internet so that there are no misunderstandings between you and the agency. Also, before any of these conditions take effect by signing a contract or starting actual work on your site, request that they provide you a copy for your records.