Planning to develop a new website or relaunch an existing website? Here are ten key questions you should ask your website developer or web designer before signing on the dotted line.
Do you have a portfolio of work to show me?
Before choosing a hotel web design company, you want to see a portfolio of their work so you are assured that you are happy with the quality of the design. You want to look at live websites not just screenshots so you can test the navigation and usability for yourself.
Who will be doing the work?
You have commissioned a company to design a website for you but they may use contract designers to actually carry out the work which is overseen by a creative web designer/project manager. If this is the case, ideally, you should be interviewing the contractor as well as the design company to be reassured that you’re going to be happy with their work. If a contractor is located overseas, you need a point of contact based in the same locality that is overseeing the project and will be able to respond to any urgent requests.
How many projects do you work on at one time?
Customer service is equally as important as the design. This will determine the hotel web designer’s accessibility and how easy they can respond to unexpected problems, additions, or changes. You can only really gain an insight into this by looking at their testimonials and/or asking their clients for feedback. You may be hiring the best web designer in town but if they can’t deliver on deadline or budget then what’s the point of hiring them?
What are your favorite programming languages and why?
This question would help you to judge the programming skills of your web designer especially if you want to develop some Web applications or other interactive features for your website. Ideally, your web development company should offer both the open source PHP/MySQL and ASP.NET programming languages.
They should make a technical recommendation on which platform would best meet your needs and budget. They also need to assure that the web site displays and functions appropriately across multiple browsers and platforms.
Are you going to be using a SEO company to optimize the website or will it be done in-house?
Optimizing your hotel website should be considered an essential part of the web design process and not an afterthought. Ideally, a web designer should be consulting with an SEO specialist at the start of the design process as it is important that not only does a website look good but it needs to be Search-Engine friendly.
Keywords are an important part of forming the navigation structure. Your SEO company should help you find that important balance between an enticing design, engaging and compelling text and an SEO technical infrastructure.
What CMS system will you be implementing?
A Content Management System (CMS) is important if you are going to continually update the website regularly. Typically, your web design company will offer you either an off-the-shelf CMS or a custom-built version. The CMS must be easy to use, SEO friendly and support Google Analytics and RSS feeds. Search Engines give a higher priority to web sites that are actively managed and that are constantly being updated, edited or having additional pages added.
What is your policy on changes?
Usually designers will include how “many rounds of changes” will be made in their contract if they are charging you a fixed price and are experienced. Changes can be a big point of contention, so you want to clarify this early and make sure that you know if you will be up for additional fees and charges if you want to make extensive changes after the initial design has been approved.
What is your policy for managing the site post launch?
Check whether the company has a guarantee to fix any problems post launch and provides a reduced rate to fix problems. Some companies even provide for example six month’s support after the website has been built to fix any problems that may arise.
Also, check that the web design company is using industry standard technology so that you can take your site to another web design agency in the future if required. As above, make sure you are provided with a CMS if you are planning to make regular updates and make sure you are not locked into any maintenance contracts you don’t require.
Why should we hire you?
This may seem like a cliche question the company you are thinking of hiring should be able to tell you in an ‘elevator pitch’ why you should use their service instead of Company X, Y or Z and explain why in terms of their design ability, quality, service levels, their level of experience and so forth and how they are different from their competitors.
Redesigning a website can be very costly so make sure do your research and find a reputable and professional web designer who not only creates beautiful web designs but can also deliver on customer service pre and post the launch of the website.
Make an online inquiry to find out if we can help you launch your new website or redesign an existing website today!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.