Choosing a business web development partner

Preview - Choosing a business web development partner
This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series - Web Design Project Advise

If you know what you require from your new website, and you know how to spot a dodgy web development agency, the next task is to find a reputable business who may be able to assist. There are many hundreds of web designers out there (including Bytewire!), so choosing the right agency for you can be tricky. Here are a couple of issues to consider on your quest.

Where to look

Finding a good web development agency can be a tricky affair, but the fundamentals are the same as when making any kind of business purchase.

  • Try and get a referral from one of your trusted contacts – if they are happy to recommend the services of a particular business, you can be confident that they are trustworthy and capable.
  • Visit a nearby business networking event to make contact with a local firm. If a representative is not present, one of the other attendees will almost certainly be able to put you in touch with someone suitable.
  • Attend a local technology event where you can make contact with exhibitors and grill them on their services.
  • A careful search on Google will also help turn up potential candidates for your project – if they appear near the top of your search results they must be doing something right!

Verify the company’s claims and financials

Once you have found a few potential businesses (about 5 should do it!), have a look through their company website, paying special attention to their previous projects. Comb through the websites they have created to get an understanding of the features they have previously implemented and whether they operate correctly.

Compare the screenshots on the web developer’s site with the actual website advertised – do they still look the same? Does the web designer’s company name appear anywhere to “prove” they really did undertake the work? Does the imagery and design appeal to you at all?

Don’t forget to check the financials of any company you are considering – a poor financial history may well be an indicator of future problems or wayward management, neither of which will help your business. You can search the design agency (and their clients) at http://www.duedil.com

Get some quotes

By now you should have created a requirements document which outlines exactly what you require from your new website. Send this out to the agencies you have identified as potential partners requesting a quote.

Feel free to arrange a meeting with any interested parties to get a feel for their team and working practices. If you are pressed for a budget at this point, you can decline to name a price although you must make it clear that you are serious, not looking for a sub-£300 service and wasting their time.

It also pays to ask for added-extras. It’s not cheeky and could prove to be the deciding factor when faced with similar quotes. Things like a free SEO report or a waiver on your first years web hosting fees are all relatively small costs in the grand scheme of your project, and may be an agreeable freebie. If you are going for a full-service (web design, development, hosting and online marketing), you could pitch for a discount; some agencies will agree a 5-10% reduction.

Make the call

Armed with the information supplied by the agencies approached, you need to ask yourself some questions to ensure you pick the right partner. Bytewire have compiled a 7 step checklist to assist clients choose a web development agency (even if it means they go elsewhere!):

  1. Are you completely satisfied that the company has the skills required to undertake your project? Have you seen examples of similar projects which demonstrate their experience?
  2. Can you honestly see your two businesses working together healthily?
  3. Did the company and its employees present themselves appropriately? Were you impressed?
  4. Does the proposal tendered by the agency match your project requirement documents? Have you fully discussed any discrepancies or differences?
  5. Will the new website be delivered according to your own timescales? Can the agency complete the work in a timely manner?
  6. Are you confident that you will receive the support you need after the website has been delivered?
  7. Do you feel confident securing the services of any of the businesses who have made it through the last six steps? If not they too should be eliminated.

If you are lucky, there will be just one company left on your shortlist. Otherwise you need to discuss the details of the remaining proposals with your own team to try and reach a consensus. You should also not underestimate the value of your instincts in the decision process as they are often right when choosing a long-term business partner.

And if none of the shortlisted clients ticks all the boxes, start the process again. There’s nothing wrong with repeating the process until you get the right web development partner – it’s the only way you can guarantee you will get the website you need.

Need help? Give the Bytewire team a call on 01621 856628 to get an honest appraisal of your project requirements and how we might be able to help fulfill them!


Blog written by Dave

I am one of the Directors of Bytewire and I like to blog about lots of different and interesting stuff surrounding the website design and development world.


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