One of the reasons businesses hire a web development company is to have a competitive advantage with quality, uniqueness, functionality, and an optimized website. The new website should be able to handle the current business and future expansion with minimal downtime.
A website is the hub of any business. It is the front of your store. To design one, you need a website development company with the skills and expertise to tackle the project from start to finish.
In this article, we’ll go over the essential elements to perform due diligence when selecting the right web development company. Putting in the time upfront will save a great deal of money and aggravation after the site is up and running.
Ask questions. Plenty of questions. Questions that make you feel like a total newbie. And you are, but that’s okay.
The right developer will patiently answer your questions until you feel like he or she knows their stuff and, just as importantly, knows what you want.
- Jason Resnick, WordPress Developer
Communicate Clear Goals, Needs & Expectations
Imagine that you are in charge of moving your local mega-grocery store to a bright new location a few miles away. You need to ensure that all the infrastructure is in place, parking, lights, shelving, cash registers, and so on. Then you have to put all the stock on the shelves in the right order, with the right SKUs and pricing. It would be a daunting task, wouldn’t it?
It’s the same when it comes to designing, upgrading, or migrating an eCommerce store to a new platform. Every piece of data, graphics, and apps must work right from the start. This is why it’s crucial that the team you hire knows what to do and how to do it.
Communication is the key to success. You must provide potential web development partners with precise goals, timelines, and other details and expectations of support to allow them to deliver the best results. You want to know upfront if they can handle the type of website you need.
If the development company you’re hiring doesn’t understand or have a vivid idea of your goals and requirements, you could end up losing business and customers. Besides, it will be costly and time-consuming to rectify the issues.
How will they communicate and how often? Today, many companies hire people from around the world. You want to be sure that there is a key person you can contact during all or most of your business hours. What forms of communication will you rely on? With so many ways for businesses to communicate such as Skype, Zoom, and numerous collaboration platforms like Trello and Basecamp, there is no excuse for poor communication.
Validate Their Skills
An excellent eCommerce development company should provide you with more than their expertise in design, coding, structure, and strategy. The design firm must have the patience to listen to your ideas, thoughts, direction, and concerns.
Can the candidate company handle the complexity and the size of your eCommerce website? Bear in mind, smaller design and development firms are task-oriented only. They set up the site, launch it, debug it, and wave goodbye. Can you afford this limitation?
Your company may require a long-term project management team who will help with ongoing needs and goals. Validate which design companies have the staff and ability for extensive, long-term management and support. It’s critical to vet a design firm to match the level of service and commitment you require before proceeding with a web development project. To learn more, here is a great resource on the latest design techniques and how companies use them.
Choosing the Right Web Development Company
For this discussion, we’ll assume you have done some preliminary screening to weed out companies that may not be suitable due to:
- Inability to suggest the right e-Commerce platform
- Lack of availability or not capable of accomplishing the task within a certain time frame
- They seem disorganized, or unable to meet your requirements
- Doubtful SEO web solution skills
- Lacks expertise in your niche
Here Are Five Essential Considerations in The Vetting Process.
Once you have a clearly defined list of goals and necessary elements for your new site, it’s time to start the selection process.
1. Check Their Portfolio
The company’s portfolio will speak volumes about its technical abilities and design “taste.” Look for projects in your industry that are similar to what you want. You don’t want to be their experimental web design for that niche.
2. Read Customer Reviews
Check the Better Business Bureau, online or search in forums relevant to your industry for reviews.
Of course, there is no substitute for calling previous clients and getting first-hand information. Good or bad, most companies will be glad to give you a genuine review.
3. Cost Estimation
You need to compare costs between potential vendors to see who is in line with your budget. Ask for a breakdown of pricing for:
- Catalog migration
- Server Management
- Support and Maintenance
Make your cost outline as detailed as possible to make any price differences easy to spot. When it comes to choosing the right development company, the price should come second to the quality of work.
4. Statement of Work (SoW)
Request a statement of work that outlines all project-specific activities, deliverables, and timelines. An experienced web development company will have reliable time estimates for each project phase. Eliminate candidates with bloated or ambiguous schedules. A reputable company can deliver a fully-functioning website in four to fifteen weeks depending on the complexity.
MS Office has a free 4-page SoW template.
5. Post Go-Live Support
Who will handle the bugs when the site goes live? This is an important question to ask. You want a company that can stand by you, and their work, to quickly handle anything that comes up.
Look for a vendor who can take care of support rather than using a third party. A company that can provide after-launch support will be more cost-effective and simpler to collaborate with for the long run than dealing with multiple vendors.
In the end, you’ll want a vendor who matches your checklist criteria such as credibility, experience, support, and pricing.
Compatibility is Crucial for Long-Term Success
Like hiring a valued employee, you’re both in it for the long haul and compatibility is a must. While technical skills are vital, how are their people skills? Do you feel comfortable talking to them on the phone? Do they communicate well and return messages promptly? These may seem minor, but it gives insight into the business relationship you are about to enter.
The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.
You will always need to make changes to the website, and you want to know that the vendor will take care of business when you need them. Like any marriage, it’s better to know now than later.