04 Aug Before You Sign the Web Design Contract – What to Ask Before You Sign on the Dotted Line
Don’t make the same mistake one friend of mine recently made when hiring a design company to do his organization’s website. In this article, we’ll discuss four things to consider before you sign the web design contract.I remember the first time I heard a web design horror story. A pastor that I was closely connected to called me, asking for my advice on how to improve their website’s search engine rankings. They were a church plant that was less than a year old and they had a hired a “Christian” design company to produce their website for them but nobody was able to find their website through search engines. After asking several questions and learning about their unique situation, I realized one of the main barriers they faced was the lack of content. Their website had just seven pages. So, I launched into my content is king speech and everything seemed to be on the right track until he told me that the only way they could add pages to their website was to pay the design company $250 per page.
After a big “gulp” and a pause to take in what he had just told me, I asked for clarification, “So, you can’t add new pages yourself, you have to pay the design company $250 for each new page?” With a big sigh, he said, “Yes.”
This story along with others I have heard about hiring the wrong web design company have inspired me to write this article, “Before You Sign on the Dotted Line.” My desire is that by the time you’re finished reading this article you’ll be a little more informed when you review your web design contract (hopefully, before you’ve signed it).
4 Things to Consider Before You Sign the Web Design Contract
Scalability is the ability to add more pages once the website is complete without additional cost and make global changes without manually updating every page.
This is very important for the your website in the long-term. In the short-term you probably have everything you want on your website but a few months from now you’ll want to add or change your site. And you’ll only be inclined to do this if you are not paying out the nose for each page.
In addition to adding more pages without cost, you need to be able to make global changes to your website (changes across all pages) without updating every individual page manually. For example your copyright at the bottom of every page might have a year in it. When next year comes, you do not want to go to every page and change the year. A good rule of thumb is that things that appear exactly the same on more than one page should be using some kind of include or global reference. This goes for CSS styles as well.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS gives the ability for one or more users to update content simultaneously without knowing HTML.
An effective CMS can often be the difference between a thriving website and one that is outdated and boring. For a small business owner, an effective CMS results in being able to update your website without learning all there is to know about web design, HTML and CSS. For the larger organization, a good CMS enables the ability to have multiple people updating and adding to the website simultaneously (without knowing web design, HTML, yada yada).
Branding is having a consistent marketing presence across various mediums, including (but not limited to): stationary, website, ads, products and commercials.
One key when it comes to selecting the web design company is their willingness to either incorporate your existing logo and marketing look and feel or help you establish branding. This might involve additional work (and cost to you) but if you have confidence in the design company you’ve selected then having them design a logo and establish a color scheme could be well worth the investment.
Straightforward navigation is a simple, intuitive and scalable way for visitors to browse your website and find relevant content.
Ask the design company about the navigation structure and how new pages will be incorporated into the navigational flow of your site. This will help them realize you plan to add pages in the near future and will hopefully result in a more robust navigation. You want your navigation to be as intuitive to first time visitors as possible, unless of course you don’t want first time visitors (or returning visitors).
But wait, there’s more!