Website Vendor Selection. OK, first-off you have to consider your website to be a life-time investment and you have to be convinced that your website, the portal into your business is going to be the most important business development tool you have. If you can’t get your head around this – you will under-invest and your efforts and budget may be wasted.
To quote a friend of mine, a futurist named Thomas Power:
“if you are chasing business, your network is not big enough”
This is an immensely powerful statement, one which should finally convince you that online marketing must take precedence over any other form of marketing and client service management techniques you employ.
And, yes all of the above needs to be managed from a single online hub: Your Website.
Your hub will be the vehicle that drives the connections to your audience and all other online platforms and resources which you will need to leverage.
Step-by-Step Website Vendor Selection
This article is concerned with website vendor selection so please bear the above in mind when making your final choice because your vendor will need a broad skill-set.
PLEASE NOTE: Do Not purchase a domain name or web hosting packages before agreeing terms with your chosen website development partner. You are likely to make poor choices.
It’s not the end of the world if you have already done this, but for best long-term ROI there must be complete congruence between all aspects of your online experience. Non experts cannot make choices about server types.
Step 1: You will need to build a short-list of possible vendors and the best place to start is Google, to research website development firms. Please do not pay lip-service to this as good days worth of searching and website comparison is needed.
Step 2: When you are visiting web designer websites look for the following indicators.
- Did you like the website?
- Did the website engage you?
- Did the website content make sense?
- Did you get to read about the web developer/s?
- Did the website give an indication of service charges?
- Did the “Contact Us” page have an address and telephone number?
Finally, did you think that the website you viewed was representative of the quality you would expect for your own business?
If the answered NO to one or more of the above points you should rub that website vendor off your short-list.
Step 3: You will have a list of business objectives which you would like your website to achieve. Write these objectives down and create a website design brief which you will email to your short-listed vendors.
Step 4: Using the “contact us” function on the contact us page on each shortlisted website vendors website send a message to ask for the email address of the person who would be responsible for reading and responding to your brief.
You should get a response within 24 hours, any vendor that takes more than 48 hours should be removed from your short-list.
Step 5: Email your brief to your short-list with a deadline date for a written response. Most good firms will have questions to ask, so be a little worried if any potential vendor reply with a final price quotation before consulting personally with you and your team.
Step 6: Any vendor who does not respond by the deadline date you gave them should be removed from your short list as they will probably be late with every other deadline you set them in the future.
Step 7: Once you have read all responses you will be ready to speak to your shortlist on the telephone. You will need a list of questions to ask your vendors.
Many, or all of the questions I pose below should have been answered in the returns you received from you vendor short-list. Hose that included these answers in their reply are well worth moving to your final three!
Website Vendor Questions, not in any particular order:
- What kind of website do you recommend for our business and why?
- Will this website include a content management system?
- Will our website have blogging tools built in?
- Will our website be social media integrated?
- If no, why not? If yes How?
- If you are selected how will you proceed? (in-depth consultation is the answer)
- Will our website package include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
- If No – Deselect them. SEO is always more expensive by a third party!
- Can you explain how you will Optimise our website? (you’ll know if they talk sense)
- Will our website be easily scalable?
- What kind of technical support do you offer? (only 24/7/365 is good enough)
- How will you arrive at the aesthetic design of our site?
- If selected how many design tweaks will we be able to have?
- Will our website include visitor opt-in forms?
- Will you be able to integrate Permission Based Email Marketing into our site?
- How will our website handle customer service enquires?
- How much will annual website hosting cost?
- Once the website has been handed over how much do you charge for extra work?
- In case of a major failure, do you automatically back-up our website?
- Can you explain what internal and external website optimisation is?
- Can you explain to me how PageRank works and why is it important?
- How will my website measure visitor statistics?
- Will our website be secure and contact forms protected from spam?
- Should we need it can you provide on-site training?
So there you have it. A simple guide which will hopefully help you to select a website design vendor.
If you have any questions just shout… Mick Say 07719 061 835