Everybody knows that before hiring any consultants it’s good to ask them about their previous case studies, testimonials, references, hourly rate and due dates.
But there are few not so obvious questions that you also need to check before considering Web Development Team for hire. If you miss it at the very beginning you may find yourself in troubles later.
So what are those questions you need to care about:
1. Do they provide long-term support?
It’s not a secret that once you have initial version of your awesome website up and running you’ll need regular updates, fixes and improvements. Nobody knows if site design, content and SEO strategy will work in the wild unless tested with real site visitors and users.
Even though this is pretty obvious need for any website owner, I seen a lot of them looking for long-term support teams after initial site is done and initial team of developers moved on to the next cool project and paid no attention to existing website.
So whenever you assess new web development team for your next great project, please, ask them:
- if they provide long-term support after initial website version is up and running
- what are the rates for support related tasks?
- if they provide continuous development support for new functionality and milestones to improve existing web application
- if they can reserve a few hours every month for really urgent issues with your website
- talk to their existing long-term clients and ask if they like long-term support provided by the firm
- finally, if they provide kind of Monthly Support Insurance so you can sleep well and not worry about your online business during off hours and over weekends
There are different kinds of web design shops. Some of them are focused on creating new things and moving on to the next exciting thing, while others are looking for long-term relations and customers. Make sure you’ve found the latter case 😉
2. What technology they will use for your web application?
Probably you already know that these days nobody creates web site, portal or application from the scratch, unless it’s the next facebook. So it’s pretty important to know that your website will be easy to manage for you and your staff members. This includes content management, users management and some basic general site settings.
But there are also another things you should ask about in regards to the framework or content management system your services provider will use to build the application:
- is there a big and healthy community around selected web technology?
- how hard is to find a programmer specializing in that framework?
- what are average rates among web consultancies specializing in this CMS or web framework?
- how long has this technology been out there on the market?
- what existing successful projects been developed on top of this platform?
All these questions will help you identify if you should even depend on suggested CMS and web framework for your online business. You need to be sure you can easily find a replacement for web consultancy, find help and support within existing community around your web framework.
And, please, avoid homegrown systems, they rarely become popular!
3. Will they provide full stack of development?
To save time and money you should better to look for team that can provide you with all the tasks you need in order to complete your web project successfully.
I don’t say you need to require all activities been performed by that team, but at the very least they should be up to help you find missing skills, manage them and provide you with single point of contact.
It’s hard to find one web consultancy which is equally good in design, programming, SEO, content marketing and copywriting, long-term support and continuous integration, content management and administration, and many many more specializations. So I suggest you to look for web teams that could do best the most important part of the project and then ask them to provide you:
- with suggestions and list of contractors that can do specific activity that is out of the range of team core skills and expertise
- with management of these sub-contractors, so you don’t have to watch it
- with single invoice for all the activities and works
- with single person to contact with, thus save your time
In this way you’ll get both: best skills from different places and save some time managing the project.
4. Are they up for trial milestone?
Even if you found team that did exactly the same projects you need, references and portfolio are all looking great, your interview showed that you’re on the same wavelength… still you can not be 100% sure things will work.
Only real work will show if you and web design firm fit together.
So suggested way to start a new project is to spend together 1 day working on project roadmap and then agree on trial milestone. Make sure milestones lasts for no more than 2 weeks. Usually that’s more than enough to find out if the things work.
And, please, do not require trial for free. It should be paid on agreed rate. If things did not work: you still have your roadmap (which you can forward to the next team), good and bad experience which will increase your chances to find better fit next time.
Moreover. Even after trial period insist on milestone based development cycles. 2 weeks milestones work for most of the projects.
This way it’s easier to fix ongoing issues and check progress. Plus, you will have some deliverables at the middle of the whole project.
5. Will they help you move to another service provider if needed?
Last but not least. Sooner or later something could happen to web design team (which you been happy with for years), or you will need extra work volume that existing team can’t cover. A lot of things could happen in the future that will require you to look for another services provider.
To be more secure it’s highly recommended to ask web consultancy if they will help you find, delegate and assist in moving your project to hands of the other team. For bigger projects it may require weeks and even months to fully transfer to another web services provider.
So make sure these guys will help you later, if needed.
Also I’d recommend to create and keep project documentation up to date. It won’t only make it easier to transfer website to another team, but also help you and all team members remember project details in the future.
This post I prepared based on experience we had in our SoftFormance team picking existing websites from owners disappointed by their previous team. So I hope this information will help you eliminate similar situations while looking for web design consultancies in the future.
If you have any other hints for those looking for webdesign shop, leave us a comment below!