It’s a phone call I receive more than I should. A business owner stuck in the middle of a stalled website design project, having wasted months of time and effort not to mention several thousands of dollars, with little to show for it in return – if lucky. The truly unfortunate persevere to the end and receive a poorly developed website designed for a different era and with little or nothing to do with marketing their business – in other words an albatross at which to throw good money after bad.
The take away? A quality website vendor will appear to cost you more upfront, but in the long-term, you will spend less.
Below we outline five website vendor selection axioms we believe will significantly increase the odds that the value you recieve from your website is greater than the total upfront investment (actual + hidden costs).
Work with a business similar to your own
The odds of your finding a quality vendor to build your next website are much higher if you select a partner who displays the same instincts and understanding of operating a business as you do.
When you meet, observe your potential partner's body language and speaking style. Do they act and talk like someone who understands how to operate a successful business? Do they understand that their success relies on your success? Do they talk confidently or do they gloss over things like number of employees, years of operation, or number of clients? Sense whether you can converse comfortably – and not just about websites, but about your business.
Finally, the vendor should understand that your website is an integral business asset and not just your online front door. You have values, a mission, and quality products or services. Your website should reflect that in every sense.
Go 100% local
Although you may spend less by working with a vendor who outsources, the value you receive in return may be much less than your investment.
One advantage of hiring a truly local vendor is that the entire project team understands your local audience's sense of aesthetics, sensibilities and values. Furthermore, you can have face to face interactions, which is crucial for project transperancy and quality control.
The resulting website will be of a much higher quality, as the vendor as well as the project team must live up to their reputations locally.
Don't be impressed by a vendor's client list
Website vendors often offer a wide range of services such as logo, banner or ad design. They may have done very little for a client whose name stands atop their client list.
Verify the work they perform for their clients actually resembles the work they will do for you. Ask for relevant case studies that specifically detail the work completed. Double check whether the work they say they completed is actually online. Ask for references. And use them.
A quality website vendor with many successful projects will be more than happy for you to inspect their work and talk to their clients.
Insist on a comprehensive and transparent contract
The logic is simple. If a vendor is sure of offering high quality work per your requirements and within specific deadlines, they will have no problem executing a detailed scope of work with clear, fail safe business terms.
The fact that a vendor is ready to offer a comprehensive contract and accommodate reasonable amendments is a sign that they are confident about their skills and the quality their work.
In addition, a vendor who refuses to give in to an amendment that may adversely affect their business, is not desperate for clients and will only participate in projects where benefits accrue to both parties.
Quality contracting will protect you and your potential partner, and any responsible vendor will want to have a clear and comprehensive contract as much as you do.
Never select a vendor based solely on price
Casting your line in search of website bids, will return fish of many sizes. It is not usual for a “high” bid to exceed a “low” bid by a factor of ten or more. This is not surprising. Website vendors operate worldwide and come in many shapes and sizes – from an individual working out of a home to a multi-national company with a sizeable digital division.
As a general rule, neither the vendors with the lowest nor highest bids are the best choice for you. The low bids significantly underestimate the hidden costs for building a quality website, while the high bids attempt to cover as many as possible, in effect mitigating hidden costs by asking you to pay for all of them upfront.
The best website vendor for you will almost always come in neither very high nor very low and will have included in the bid a clear and detailed scope of work, a detailed outline of the safeguards and processes used to mitigate hidden costs (e.g. keep the project on course and on target), and relevant case studies of successful website projects, some for businesses similar to yours.
Contact us to find out more about achieving success in your next website project.