The beginning stages of a web design or development project are the most crucial—and the most exciting. At this point, you’ve probably already found some digital agencies to reach out to. You’re eager to discuss the possibilities with them and begin the process of getting your project started.
While the temptation to get started quickly is hard to resist, there are steps you should take early on to ensure you receive the best possible quotes.
Develop A Web Design Specification
A proper web specification will enable the agencies bidding on your project to properly understand how it will need to be developed.
The biggest issue you will deal with while shopping for an agency is pricing divergence. Different agencies will charge differently for the same project for a variety of reasons. But if you do not have a proper, thorough spec, the divergence will be even worse.
Specs also lower the risk of future disagreements about what was and wasn’t included in your project. Oftentimes, ambiguous web specs can lead to the agency having one idea of how a project is to unfold, while the client has a completely different perspective.
If you do not have a spec or are unsure how to make one, consider an up-front “discovery” process with your favored agency. It will give you a chance to test the waters with a particular agency and iron out the wrinkles in your project while also developing documentation that you’ll eventually need anyway.
Consider Your Timeframe
One of the first questions any agency will ask you is if you’ve considered when you would want your project completed. Is there an event or promotion you need to complete your project in time for, or do you have a very lenient timeframe?
Oftentimes, clients approach agencies with large specifications and they expect to get it done by some arbitrary timeline that simply isn’t feasible. Setting realistic expectations as to your project lifecycle before receiving bids will improve the quality of the work and the quality of the bids you receive.
Determine A Budget
Most clients are uncomfortable when asked what they think they should pay for a website. But without that information, there is no easy answer a quality agency can give when asked: “What will it cost?”
The fact is, web projects are like any other project in that they can be done in a variety of ways, and that can change the eventual price tag.
Take home renovation as an example. You could renovate a bathroom using off-the-shelf materials from Home Depot and pay $5,000, or you could custom order fixtures and flooring and pay $20,000 for the same space. The same thing applies to web design and development.
Answering this question from a reputable agency doesn’t mean you will receive a bad deal. It actually means the opposite. Rather than estimating a game plan and quote, the agency can recommend a specific solution that will work best within your given budget.
It may be difficult to determine what a budget should look like, especially if this is your first web design or development project. Fortunately, there are ample resources available on the Internet that talk about project budgets, web site design costs, and web development fees.
Do Your Research
Research means a lot, not only in terms of budgeting. Have you researched your concept? Is it viable? Have you looked at your competition? Are there any rules or regulations in your industry that need to be considered?
Also, once you’ve received some quotes, do some research on the agencies you’ve spoken to. Are they credible? Do their sites impress you? Does their portfolio give you confidence that they can get the job done? Do they share in your values and beliefs? If the answer to any of these questions is “no” for any of your prospects, you may need to drop them from the short list, even if their quote is enticing.
Agencies will want to know whom they’ll be working with on the project. How many stakeholders are there? What will the approval process look like? What are the backgrounds of those who are involved?
Most agencies complete many projects per year, so organization is essential. Clients who are not structured can end up spending more time and money due to disorganization. So before asking for and receiving a quote, make sure you have your internal structure solidified.
Like with any business venture, going in with a game plan is to your benefit. The better you establish a firm line of communication with a designer or developer, the better your project will reflect your company’s goals and values, and the more satisfied with the finished project you’ll be.