More than often a goal of a web redesign gets put in place and everyone scurries off to make that happen. You know you need help so you find a vendor to come in and get to work for you.
Here are a few things you can do before meeting with the web company you are hoping to hire to build your company or organization’s website:
- Know your budget. Have 2 numbers in mind: 1) Your “if we can get it for this” budget and 2) Your “this is the most we can pay” budget. Never give away #2. Come right out with #1, but include a possible range of flexibility. For instance, “We are hoping to do all this for $4,000 but we have about 10%-15% wiggle room”. Just be up front and clear about what you can pay and everyone can stop playing their games.
- Know what you want. There are a few things that you need to figure out before getting estimates/bids from a possible vendor: What do you want your site to do that it’s not doing now? Or what do you wish the site did better? Is there any functionality that would help you do business better? For instance, do you want your contact form to integrate with Salesforce.com to produce a web-to-lead automatically and trigger the rest of your sales process? Do you need to be able to update areas more frequently? Do you need something like online registration or an online store created? Think through all the “wishes” you have. Bear in mind these have costs so should be filtered through what you can afford right now. Rank these items according to priority so if push comes to shove during negotiations, you know which functionality you can go without.
- What do you want the site to look like? This is where you have to help as much as possible. Yes, the future web designer is going to produce their magic, but you will get a much better end product if you can do some pre-work to figure out what you do/don’t like. This is actually quite a simple thing to do. Find 4-5 website that you LOVE. Figure out why you love them. That’s it. Communicate that in your discovery sessions and guaranteed, you will get something that is going to blow your mind.
- Be ready. There is nothing worse than starting down the road on a web project to have it derailed by waiting for approvals or other things come up. Clear out your schedule before you invest this kind of money. Have a point person who owns the entire project on your team who has the ability to communicate with the rest of the group, authority to make decisions and accessibility. The traveling business development or sales person is not an ideal choice. The secretary is not a wise choice. Hire a project manager or delegate to a go-getter in your organization, but please, be ready.
Those tips will help you and whoever you choose to manage your website project in more ways than I can count.
You’ll notice those things should be done BEFORE you even reach out to an agency/vendor/partner. It’s an interesting exercise to go through as you’ll probably find just getting these first few steps done will test the resolve of the rest of the group and you haven’t even started the project yet!
What other tips can you provide?