Questions for an SME to ask when they want a new website

Every company needs a website to let potential clients know what they do and why to use them. When a new SME is setup, there may not be much time to do a formal evaluation of different suppliers. A supplier may get selected via a recommendation, or it could be a service offered alongside other marketing activities. A website is built and works well for several months. After the SME becomes established they usually find it is not flexible enough, so they start looking for a digital agency to build a new website.  So what questions should be asked to make sure that the new website delivers what is needed?

Questions to ask agencies

Supplier relationship and experience

Who will be the main and backup contacts? There should always be more than one contact. If there is only then what happens when they are on holiday or ill? Ask to meet the contacts and make sure you get on.

How much experience do you have in my market sector? Are there any competitive relationships that could have an impact on my work?

Can you provide relevant project examples and case studies that demonstrate measurable results? All websites should now be mobile friendly. Use the Google tool to check the examples https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

How many developers are there? As with contacts, there should always be more than to provide cover for holiday or illness.

Can you provide contact details for two or three clients as references?

Process to develop the website

What would you need from me? Make sure there is a list so you can plan out what you need to do.

For the creative work, how many reviews and edits are allowed? Ideally, there should be a minimum of two reviews. Designs should show how the website will appear on a phone, tablet (landscape and portrait) and desktop.

Will the test site be password protected? It should be to avoid unauthorized users viewing it.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and Analytics

How do you approach SEO? If the agency sells themselves as an SEO expert check that their project examples are on the first or second page of Google results when you enter the industry of the example company and their location, e.g. ‘widgets larncastle’. Another approach is to search for ‘seo xxxxxx’ where xxxxxx is the location of the agency. They should be on the first or second pages of results.

What Analytics are available? Ask to see examples

Hosting

Where will the website be hosted and what is the target availability? It should be on an established cloud platform and not in an office. Availability should be at least 98%  per month. If the target is not met there should be financial penalties.

Security

Which CMS will be used? If an in-house solution is used ask if there are regular vulnerability scans or penetration tests to  check for security issues.

Do you have any security certifications? Expect them to have Cyber Essentials, IASME or ISO27001:2013. Certifications are not mandatory, but they show a commitment to security.

What is your approach to quality?

How do you ensure the quality and security of the code?

If the website is for e-commerce, more questions need to be asked to guarantee the integrity of the order process. Contact us to find out which ones are relevant for you.

Understanding the answers

The answers to the questions may be difficult to interpret. WADIFF Consulting has more than 15 years experience of managing website builds for FTSE100 companies, global publishers, SMEs, the public sector and charities and provide a free one-hour session to review answers and make recommendations on any follow-up questions. Making sure you select the right agency will save time and money later on. Contact us to find out more on how we can help.