If you don’t know, ask! 20 Questions to ask a web development company
When a client doesn’t know what to ask their web development company, it creates a lot of room for misinterpretation and miscommunication.
To avoid the risk of making an uninformed decision, you as a client need to be prepared for the initial conversation with a web development company. Coming armed with the right questions will allow you a better understanding of how the company operates and will also enable the company to showcase their strengths. By correctly assessing the company’s expertise, capacity, and range of services you will be able to more confidently gauge whether they’re the right choice for your needs.
We’ve collected a list of 20 questions that we feel best address the common issues clients need solved or what they should have answered before hiring a web development company.
20 Questions you need to ask
1. Can I see your portfolio and customer references?
Plenty of companies will claim they have loads of relevant experience and dozens of happy customers, but can they prove it? Asking a company to provide a portfolio showing their work is vital. This not only demonstrates that they can do the work they’re claiming they can, but it also allows you to see if their work matches what you want.
2. Can you share some case studies?
Case studies will show you that—not only can the company build a website—they can build a website that delivers on what they promised. Case studies should show detailed statistics that clearly demonstrate the business results their work achieved.
3. What risk mitigation strategies do you employ?
Many people overlook the importance of risk mitigation when it comes to web design. Proper risk mitigation strategies will prevent your project from going over budget and from suffering from “scope creep” (unexpected changes due to poor initial communication) and will help your project stay on time. Double-check with your web design company what steps they take to mitigate issues. If they don’t have any, walk away.
4. What services do you offer?
Not all web development agencies are created equal, nor do they all provide the same services. Before assuming that the company you have your eye on will be able to handle the scope of your project. Ask if they also cover things like hosting, copywriting, SEO, and other necessary or associated costs.
5. Ask about who will be working on the site and their experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask who will be working on your site and what kind of experience they have. It’s your business money, and it’s your right to know who exactly will be designing and building your site or app. If the company you’re hiring is confident in their workers, they’ll have no issue answering this question.
6. What process do you follow when developing a site?
Like any major project, proper website development should follow a certain process to make sure the project stays on schedule and stages aren’t missed. Your service provider should be able to tell you exactly how the project will be delivered and on what timeline.
7. What kind of third-party integration do you offer?
Third-party apps can help cut costs on your project, while still increasing your site’s overall functionality. These apps or extensions provide a ready-made solution for your site instead of having to develop from scratch. If you want the extended functionality of third-party apps or extensions, then discuss it with your company in the interview stages to confirm whether they can install and maintain these third-party apps.
8. How long will it take to complete the project?
This is an essential question not only to ask your service provider but to ask yourself. Often, clients come to agencies with deadlines already in mind. However, it’s best to work with your chosen company to come to an agreement on a deadline that will allow them ample time to design and build, while still working towards your business goals.
Discuss the scope of work required and what you want from the project to get a more accurate timeline.
9. What kind of pre-launch testing do you perform?
The company you hire should be able to describe in detail what kind of testing they perform on sites before launching them. Doing this will let you see the type of testing that’s completed, and also allow you the chance to share any ideas you might have.
10. Do I need a new site, or can we use my old one?
If your site is struggling to meet your business’ needs, it can be difficult to assess what’s causing the issue. Is it a lack of functionality? No responsive design? The need for more (or better) visual content? Ask questions about your current site’s weaknesses and find out what the web development company recommends to get your site to meet your business’ needs—whether this is the modification of your existing site, or a new site custom-built to meet your company’s growing demands.
11. Will you use a custom design or a template for my site?
To build your site, a company can either use a ready-made template that they modify or build from scratch. The template build is cheaper and faster, but your website will be less flexible and unique. The custom build is more expensive and time-consuming, but often more functional and targeted to a specific audience.
Know what you want and what your needs are and see what the service provider suggests as being the best option for you.
12. Who will own my domain, code, designs, etc.?
Picture this: your site has been live for a few months, and then you find another, almost identical site built by the same company. It has your layout and fonts, your artwork; it might even have your logo!
Most people don’t realize that hiring a web development company to build your site doesn’t always mean that you actually own what they build. This is why it’s essential to ask about who will own the final designs, fonts, artwork, and code and to negotiate the ownership into your contract.
13. Will this website grow to meet my needs?
When building a new website for your business, the hope is that you only have to do it once and then it will scale to meet your needs. As your business grows, you’ll want to be able to expand your website’s functionality without having to start from scratch. Ask your potential service provider whether this will be possible without a full redesign and what kind of effort will be required to accommodate that growth.
14. Do you provide maintenance services?
Ongoing maintenance of your website is essential. This is what keeps your links working, your third-party integrations up-to-date, and your content current. Nothing will turn potential customers away from your site faster than glitches and errors.
If something like this happens, you’ll want it fixed—and fast. Find out about maintenance services and plans offered. Ask about extra cost, how much time is required, and what—if anything—is already included in your contract.
15. Can I see mock-ups before you start developing?
While you’ve probably chatted with your chosen service provider plenty about your idea, wireframes and mock-ups will help your ideas and visualizations coalesce. This is especially important if your website is going to be particularly complex.
Looking at wireframes will allow you to gauge whether all the components and elements are in place, and it will let you make quick changes that will save the developers’ time and your budget.
16. What web standards do you follow?
Web design is a rapidly evolving landscape that is still learning how to adapt to all the needs of its users. Accessibility standards, like those laid out in AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), will help your website stay relevant and accessible to all potential users.
This is why learning about web standards, especially those that apply to your area, is essential. Talk to your web development company about what standards they follow and how they will implement those standards on your website.
17. What content management systems, platforms or technologies are you working with?
If you’re running a blog, have portfolios, or have an e-commerce store, then you’re going to be dealing with a lot of content. There are loads of excellent content management systems out there that are intuitive and user-friendly and allow you to easily upload, edit, and publish your content.
Find out which one your chosen company is most familiar with and what they think would work best for your website and your business’ needs.
18. How will you keep track of all the tasks associated with my project?
Designing and building a website generates an incredible amount of tasks that are almost impossible to keep track of manually. When building, we use ClickUp, a full-featured solution to manage projects to eliminate surprises and stay on track for deadlines. Find out how your web development company is planning on keeping track of tasks and what—if any—project management system they’re using.
19. What development and design tools do you use?
Like content management systems, there are loads of options out there when it comes to development and design tools. However, they’re not all created equal.
Gain some familiarity with the most popular tools out there and ask your service provider what they’re using. Not familiar with the tool? Ask them why they work with that particular software. For example, we use Figma and InVision software to help us design, prototype, collaborate and run project smoother.
20. Will my site be SEO optimized?
Proper SEO will help your business rank higher in search engines and attract more customers. This can be done through either on-page or off-page SEO. Find a company that will help you with this and have demonstrated proof of their results.
These are just a few questions that we are regularly asked and feel could benefit a client from asking a web development company before hiring them. When making your list of questions, consider the unique constraints and requirements of your own business project before setting out to interview potential developers.
If you’re searching for a reliable, flexible web development company to work with on your project, why not get in touch with us? Convergine has helped many clients build the perfect website for their business needs. We’re open about who we’ve worked with, how we work, and what we’ve created—and we can help your business next!
Check out our recent posts to learn more about web design best practices and tools we use in the web development process.
- How to decide between pre-designed and custom solutions
- Designing a Smart Data Dashboard for your web application
- We use InVision to collaborate, create and run projects