Top 5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Web Design Firm

Choosing web design firm can sometimes be a daunting task. While there are a myriad of questions one can ask, here is a helpful list of the top 5 most important questions that should be answered before choosing web design firm.

1. "Can I see your portfolio?"

The immediate answer should be, "yes." A portfolio says a lot about a firm. Ideally, a design firm should be able to show you previously completed websites with similar goals and attributes, or that are within the same industry as yours. The firm should be well-rounded and versatile in both design and development. It is also important to ask for client testimonials or references. Choosing a firm is both a commitment and an investment, so reviewing a portfolio is imperative before choosing a firm.

2. "Do you provide Search Engine Optimization?"

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of editing a website in order to increase its ranking in search engines. SEO is a comprehensive process to help a website gain high ranking on the organic (free) listings. It is important for any web design firm to have the capability to perform SEO on a website; if no one can find your website, your investment in a new site will be unprofitable and ineffective.

3. "What browsers do you design for?"

The correct answer should be, "all." Visitors use a large variety of browsers and platforms to view websites. It is vital that your chosen firm design the website to be compatible with all browsers. A website may look ideal in Firefox on a Mac, for example, but could have major layout or functionality issues when viewed in Internet Explorer on a PC. A design firm should create all of their websites with multi-browser and cross-platform compatibility in mind. Here is a helpful list of commonly used browsers and platforms:

Browsers
Internet Explorer 6
Internet Explorer 7
Internet Explorer 8
Mozilla Firefox
Safari
Google Chrome
Safari for I-Phone

Platforms
Windows Vista
Windows XP 
Macintosh OS
Windows Mobile
Blackberry OS
Opera I-Phone OS
Palm OS

4. "Who owns the code after completion of this project?"

You should own the intellectual property rights to the website and the specific code within. There are firms that attempt to retain the ownership of both the code and the art files, but their customers usually do not realize it until after completion or when they change firms. Before signing a contract, make sure it includes a statement about the intellectual property rights.

5. "Are you able to provide future updates, and if so, how much will it cost?"

It is just as important to make constant updates to a website as it is to have a strong web presence. Search engines show favor to websites that are frequently updated, so it is important to find a firm that will be responsive to your future maintenance requests. Make sure you find out the costs associated with the monthly or yearly updates before you begin a project.

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