Choosing a web development company to build or look after your website is only half of the process.
The second stage is actually meeting the company and discussing your plans.
If you are unfamiliar with the process of building a website, or what a typical web company would expect from you, then this article is here to help.
I will explain what you should take to the initial meeting, and why they are important.
Purpose of the initial meeting
The initial meeting is a chance for you to learn about the company, meet the people and decide whether they are a right fit for you – and if the company thinks you’re a right fit for them.
It’s a chance for you to say what work you would like completed and what you expect from the company.
You should be looking to come away feeling confident that the company understood the type of project you are looking to undertake, and that they would be able to complete it while working well with you, or your company.
What the meeting will not give you
This meeting is not (normally) where you will talk about extreme specifics of the project.
It’s rare to be talking about design at this stage, it’s more a “what do you want to achieve” type of conversation.
You will not come away with a quote – however the company might have provided a rough estimate.
The company will not be looking at starting the project tomorrow – unless that was one of the objectives discussed on the phone when arranging the meeting.
What preparation needs to be completed
Preparation is vital. Yes you are there to see if they are people you can work with, but they need some information from you too.
If you haven’t got your project straight in your head (or on paper), how can the company provide an accurate quote, or confidently say they can complete the task?
Identify your website objectives
This is very simple but often overlooked.
Many people want a website because their friend said they should have one, or their competitor has a website.
If you don’t know why you want a website, then the company won’t be able to make you a website that delivers results.
Obvious objectives would be to build more leads, and build brand awareness.
However your company might have more specific requirements, like “provide a space online where other professionals can collaborate”, or “the website must be able to share video tutorials”.
These objectives will have an impact on the way a system is built, what tools are used and what features will impact the design.
The web company should be asking you lots of questions around your objectives and requirements, so make sure you know what they are before you arrive.
Create a simple specification
This should be a minimum requirement. The bigger your project, the more in depth the specification should be, however if you’re after a small project, then bullet point the key features and functionality that is required.
You need to identify what the company will be building, and why they are building it.
The ‘why’ with the functionality is very important as the web company might be able to give you advice on how to meet that objective through your website.
Identify your budget
The web company will be asking you what your budget is.
At this stage, you might not know how much a website costs – unfortunately I can’t provide you with an estimate either as the price varies dramatically.
If you don’t know your budget, then make sure you say. The web company should be able to provide you with a rough estimate for the costs of the project.
Otherwise, be honest with your project. If the web company knows how much they have to work with, they can advise whether some functionality will push the cost out of your price range.
Similarly, you might have too much budget, in which case they could suggest functionality that will make the website perform better.
Either way, the conversation is a lot easier if you have considered a budget before the meeting.
What you need to find out
Remember, you are trying to find out whether the web company will be a good fit for your company and the project.
That means you need to be asking questions too:
- How does the company work?
- What type of projects do you normally undertake?
- What processes do they have in place?
- How many people will be working on the project?
- What kind of timescales would you be expecting?
- When would you be able to start the project?
You may also have specific project requirement questions e.g.:
- Do you provide website hosting?
- Do you have on-going support?
- Do you have an in-house designer?
- Are you able to provide a copywriter?
- Will you be able to help optimise for search engines?
Just remember, do not go for a company just because they are cheaper. More often than not, they are cheaper because the final product will not be as good as the more expensive competitor.
Websites are very much – you pay for what you get. So if you’re paying cheap rates, then expect a website that isn’t quite up to scratch, or a company that is more hassle than it’s worth.