One thing that overwhelms small business owners especially, is how to choose a web design company. One thing that you need to look at really critically is the web design proposal! If you have sent RFPs before and worked with a selection committee – then you probably know all of this already.
However, a lot of times businesses will just talk to one web design company – or they will do an informal bid process where they just want a second opinion from another firm. When it comes to the bottom line and you have to make a choice, though, how do you know you are making the right choice?!
We write a lot of web design proposals and one of the things that we receive positive feedback on as a design firm, is that people like our proposals! We wanted to write this post specifically for those wanting to know how to choose a web design company. We think that the key is often in the proposal! This approach involves reading the proposal twice – but each time for very different reasons. Let’s get started shall we!
Read #1. Give the proposal a quick read to start with and analyze the overall tone and language of the proposal
Some proposals are very technical in nature and this can be off-putting. When you hire a company to help with your website, marketing, etc – you are doing more than paying someone to do some work – you are signing on to developing a new business relationship. You need to look at how the proposal is written and how you relate to the language. Is it ambiguous or vague? Is it technical to the point? Is it confusing? Is it written in a condescending tone? These are all things that I have run across in proposals over the years and they need to be things you give a lot of consideration to at the first read. You could be working with these people for the next 3-6 months. Based on how they wrote the proposal, how do you foresee this relationship going?
Read #2. Go through the proposal again and take notes of the details the web design company wrote into the proposal.
- Look for a project overview. A good proposal should start by clearly defining the project. This isn’t just an exercise – you need to know that the web company truly understands what it is that you want done! If they get this opening section wrong, you could be in for some real trouble down the road.
- Look for a definition of scope. The proposal should just say “we will build you a website”. It should define what sections you asked for, outline any special considerations that were requested or specific features that were to be included. A good scope does two things – a) it lets you know that everything you asked for was understood and communicated – and b) it protects you from the web developer saying “but you never asked for that…”. If it’s there in the proposal – then it’s understood.
- Look for a sample site map. This way you know that you are both on the same page (so to speak) in terms of how many overall pages are going into the website.
- Look for a “what to expect” section – or some form of the web developer communicating their process. This includes how they work, what is expected of the client, what is expected of the developer, etc. This serves to set the ground rules for the relationship so that there aren’t any surprises.
- Look critically at the pricing section. Does it look like they pulled a number out of the air? Is their pricing supported by any description or narrative? It’s hard to itemize a web design job down to where every hour is going – but there should at least be more than a single number on there.
This basic 2-read process will give you a lot of insight not only into how this particular company will (or won’t) meet your needs concerning the project, but it will also be a good window into the culture of the company you are considering and how easy or difficult they might be to work with.
We hope this was beneficial – and if you would like to take a look at one of our sample web proposals, you will find a link below. A lot of clients have struggled in the past with how to choose a web design company – and we can understand! There are some great design companies out there, and some not so great. We hope understanding how to decipher the proposals will help make your search even easier!
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