Monday, October 23, 2006

Small business website solutions & the questions to ask

I get approached by many small to medium sized businesses on a regular basis looking for an online website solution.

The first question that usually sets the tone for the rest of their enquiry for a website is "How much is a website solution going to cost?". No details or brief is thought about previously - if I ask how many pages I am usually advised "we will leave that up to you." Its not much to go on and doesn't help me get a better idea for your business.

So for those who are looking for professional website solutions for your small business here's a list to consider asking any prospective web designer BEFORE asking directly about prices and costings:

Do you have experience in working with small businesses?

Can I see previous examples of your web design work?

What kind of style of design do you think would suit our business? (simple, modern, trendy, traditional)

I'm thinking x number of pages... home, contact, products, etc, etc - would that be enough or do you have any other ideas that might suit? (and yes its likely any designer is going to increase the number of web pages for both your benefit).

How should I supply the company logo, images and copy to you - in a digital format, or can I give you brochures for you to scan in and use?

Can you write my web site copy for me?

Can you build an online contact form?

Can you supply web hosting or can you work around my web hosting I have already purchased?

Will your design be table based or CSS layout? (this alternative MAY be more expensive if the designer is not used to CSS design websites.)

How long will your design take to put together?

Do you recommend Flash, Javascript or Dynamic HTML for fancy effects? How much extra is that? (Be careful here, any web designer worth their salt should tell you less is more with most users if you are wanting to animate your website)

Why should I use you over your competitors? (This is a good question to sound someone out)

Can you optimize web pages for search engines?


Do you charge by the hour?

Do you charge for amendments throughout the year or does the price reflect that?

Do you charge a fixed price by bespoke project?

If I increased the size of the website significantly how negotiable are your rates?

If any of you out there are web designers have ideas on how the best information to get from a prospective small business client please comment here - I'd love to have your input.