Work with a web agency FAQ


Five tips for working with a web designer11 FAQs on working with a web agency

  1. How do I choose the best web agency?
  2. How do I brief a web agency?
  3. How much will it cost?
  4. Will the agency write the text and find pictures for my website?
  5. What technical questions do I need to ask a web developer?
  6. Do I have to register the domain name?
  7. What is a content management system?
  8. How do I organise handling online payments?
  9. What support can I expect once the website is built?
  10. Can my web agency help with search engine optimisation (SEO)?
  11. What should be in our contract with a web company?

1. How do I choose the best web agency?

Don't be seduced by a few pretty websites. Get recommendations, ask for references and follow them up. Check that the agency's portfolio of work matches your requirements.

When you approach a web company or freelancer, tell them your main criteria up front, including budgets and timescale.

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2. How do I brief a web agency?

Think of everything! If you don't specify it, it won't happen. And if you ask for changes, costs will escalate. A brief isn't legally binding but it will form the basis of any contract you draw up so it's vital to get it right.

Make sure you include:

  • Costs and timescale (is there a fixed launch date?).
  • Background on your company.
  • Detailed information about the structure and content you need.
  • Your design criteria — give the designer your marketing materials and logo and show them websites you like so they understand what you want.
  • The objective(s) of the site. What do you sell, who are your customers, what do they need from your website?
  • Details about any search engine optimisation work.

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3. How much will it cost?

The cost depends on how long your designer spends on your site. So always ask for breakdowns when getting quotations.

Bargain basement websites may not fit your requirements. For a good quality brochure website, expect to pay around £1,000. Ecommerce sites cost more, depending on the nature of your business.

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4. Will the agency write the text and find pictures for my website?

It all depends what you agree. Usually, it will be up to you to provide content and design items such as logos and photographs of products or personnel, unless otherwise stated.

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5. What technical questions do I need to ask a web developer?

Ask whether your website will comply with industry standards. Make sure your site will be compatible with the main web browsers (such as Firefox and Internet Explorer). You should also make sure that your site will work with mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers.

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6. Do I have to register the domain name?

A web agency can register your domain name, but make sure it is in your name. It's easy to do yourself – and remember, your web address is your asset.

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7. What is a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) is the tool used to build your website. If you have a CMS that's simple to use, it'll be easier for you to update your site yourself – although your web developer may need to offer you some training.

Most web agencies will use an off-the-shelf package. This will keep your costs down and save time. It also means you can look after the site yourself and move to a new agency or designer if necessary.

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8. How do I organise handling online payments?

If you are planning to sell online, you'll need to be able to accept credit and debit cards. Ask your web agency to advise you.

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9. What support can I expect once the website is built?

Ongoing maintenance and support needs to be agreed with your web agency. If you want to update the site yourself, you may need training.

To control costs, make sure the agency builds a site you can update yourself, otherwise you may have to pay every time you want to change something.

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10. Can my web agency help with search engine optimisation (SEO)?

SEO isn't always included in the price of a website. An agency may tell you your website will be optimised, but make sure that includes keyword research, a crucial stage of SEO which is often overlooked.

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11. What should be in our contract with a web company?

Make sure you have the appropriate rights to copyright, design and intellectual property. And ask your web agency to sign a confidentiality agreement before revealing sensitive details about your business.

A good agreement will lay out how you and the agency will work with third parties such as web hosting companies.

Make sure you're allowed to use the software and source code which makes your website function. You should also establish what rights each of you have to end the contract. Agree a dispute resolution procedure in case of problems.

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