What to ask a web design company

Glen Burnett

20th July 2021

We get it; trying to pick out a web design company can be difficult. Purchasing a web design isn't an everyday occurrence like buying your morning coffee.

So it can be hard to come up with a list of things to ask, and you might be forgiven for thinking, 'why do I need to come up with questions anyway? I'll just ask them as I go'.

But it is crucial to ensure you are getting a web design company that's going to faithfully execute your web design project and make it successful once it goes live.

That's why we've come up with a list of questions you can ask potential web design companies. So without further ado, let's go through them.

Do you have testimonials or reviews that I can see?

A web design company should have a proven track record, evidence that prior work they have done is top-notch. If they don't have previous testimonials from other clients, or those testimonials are not good at all, you'll want to reconsider if they are the right company for you.

If you can't see any testimonials on their site, look them up on Google to see if they have any Google reviews, or check out their Facebook page if they have one for Facebook reviews.

Can I see a portfolio of your most recent work?

This is a big one to check with who you are considering using to build your website—past evidence of their work.

Ask them for their website portfolio of recent work.

You'll want to check for the quality of the work and also the variety of work. If they have done ten websites in the hospitality business but don't have a range of other industries they have tackled, their experience might be limited.

Your web design company should have experience being able to work with one or many stakeholders in a variety of industries.

We've done a range of website work, from a start-up company, medical center, a museum, a home furnishing e-commerce store, a beauty and skin specialist, a barbershop, and more.

We've done a range of website work, from a start-up company, medical center, a museum, a home furnishing e-commerce store, a beauty and skin specialist, a barbershop, and more. You can check out our website portfolio here.

Are there any lock-in contracts involved here?

We don't believe people should be locked into contracts; the only ongoing cost you should really have to contend with is your month-to-month or annual web hosting costs. That's it.

Not being able to leave to another host or having your beautiful website design locked in with a specific company isn't ideal and can especially become a problem if you soon find down the road that company isn't as reliable as you might have hoped.

If the server is not in Australia, you'll want to make sure the web hosting company or web design company will put in place a CDN to counteract this. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. It's a way of making a copy of the website and storing it in numerous server locations worldwide so that anyone, anywhere, won't experience a slow-loading website.

Aside from that, it can come in handy if the web hosting provider is actually based in Australia and offers support either during Australian business hours or, better yet, offers 24/7 support.

But don't get caught out; some web hosting companies claim they are Australian, but their support staff or their servers (or both) are based overseas. That's not to say there are not some good web hosting companies overseas, but there are some not-so-good companies out there too.

Do you provide hosting? Are they locally based in Australia?

Website hosting companies house websites by using servers—a server location matters. The speed of loading a webpage comes down to the seconds. A website server in Australia for Australian internet users takes less time to load as there's less distance to retrieve the data than it would if the server was in the United States.

Do you work in-house, or do you outsource your projects?

Some web design companies save time and money by outsourcing part or all of their website projects overseas. And while some reliable overseas freelancers can be depended on, not all of them can be.

It can make it extremely difficult to get time estimates or convey what a client wants when information is passed on to a third person halfway across the world. Or to get answers from those third persons back through the web design company and finally to yourself if there is anything you need to ask about the progress of the website build.

If the work is outsourced, there's also the risk that the quality of the work may not be up to scratch. Corners might be cut, and things are rushed or slapped together. In worst-case scenarios, a freelancer might even ghost the web design company altogether, leaving incomplete work for the web design company to pick up.

At Thriving Web Design, we do not outsource, and all our web design projects are done in-house locally.

What is your design process?

Does the web design company have a transparent process from start to finish outlined as to how they will build your website, or are they just winging it, with unclear steps as to what will happen when?

If they can't articulate that, there might be a sign they are not organized or don't have a solid plan of attack on how your website should come together.

How long will it take to complete the project?

They should be clear on how long they estimate it will take to build the website. And be extremely cautious of web design companies or web designers who tell you a website will take less than 1-2 weeks. Unless they are building you a super simple single landing page, that should be a red flag that they are not realistic in their estimations.

Overpromising and under-delivering is not a good look, especially when they promise something can be done in an impossibly shorter amount of time.

What do you need from me before we start the web design project?

Ideally, your web designer or web design company should have a list of things they know they're going to need from you at certain stages of the web design process. Log in details for your web hosting company and domain name provider, photos and content, etc.

If they are not clear about what they need and when, chances are you're going to be caught out when they ask at the last minute, leaving you to scramble to get various things to them in record time.

Being able to tell you what they'll need from you and when is a good sign they are organized and are planning ahead.

Do you build custom websites or use templates?

The truth is there are tens of thousands of pre-made web design templates out there free for web designers to use, which is fine if you're using it for a personal project. But when you are serious about having a website that performs, is professionally built and aligned to convert visitors into customers, and speaks your brand, a pre-made web design template isn't going to cut it.

If you are paying good money to have a company or web designer build your website, you don't want them using pre-made templates. Thought and planning ought to go into your website having a design that works for your business in the best way possible.

You want your business and brand to shape your website's design, not the website forcing your business and brand to conform to something built for some other purpose.

We don't use pre-made web design templates; the designs we create are made from scratch.

What training/support is provided when my website is launched?

Once your website is launched, you'll want training and help to get you started, so you know how to use the website, update parts of it, and so forth.

You'll want to ask when considering which web design company to go for if this is something they provide once your website is launched. There's nothing worse than being given a website and then being left in the dark without that little extra helping hand to guide you through it.

We provide training videos on how to use the website when we launch our clients' sites, and we will help them out after launch if they are stuck on something and don't know how to resolve it.

Do I own the site and content after it goes live?

Some web design companies, including web hosting companies that offer web design and web maintenance services, will lock your website in, making it inaccessible.

Some may not even give you full access to the administration side of your website, leaving you at their mercy and hoping they'll update your website in a timely fashion when you need to add or change content on your website.

You may even want to be able to have the flexibility of moving that website to another web hosting company down the track, keeping it the same as before with the new web hosting company, pixel for pixel. So these are factors you'll need to confirm with the web design company when deciding whether to go with them or not.

Our own web designs are made using WordPress, so they are portable and can easily be migrated to another web hosting company, you get full access to the site, and you can update/change content yourself whenever you need to. Your content is yours.

And that's the list. Interested in getting a website?

We hope these list of questions are helpful.

If you are looking to get a new custom built website or to upgrade your old site, drop us a line, we'll be more than happy to help out. Want to know more about our web design services in Perth, Western Australia ? Head on over to our web design services for more information.

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Thriving Web Design is an Australian owned business based in Perth, Western Australia.

We cater for businesses in Perth that need a professional web design done by someone local in their area. We pride ourselves on being local and all our web design work is done entirely in-house.

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