Questions to Ask When it Comes to a New Website

Dec 11, 2014  | 

Some businesses think that when they purchase a website – poof! – they’ll appear in search results for relevant searches! However, a good digital marketing firm will work on foundational issues, such as actually building a website, before trying to rank it. Like with anything we do, from starting a business to building a home, everything online must have a solid foundation — and your website forms the foundation of all your digital marketing efforts.

For small business owners who haven’t spent much time in the digital marketing space, here are some questions you should ask any digital marketing firm before buying a website from them.

Do You Have An Office?

You may ask, “why does an office matter?” and that’s a valid point, because a lot of online work can be done remotely. However, a significant problem in the digital marketing industry right now is that anyone can claim that they are a ‘web designer’ or a ‘digital marketing firm’ online. To avoid being bamboozled into purchasing a website from someone you’ll never meet face-to-face, you should ask for the first meeting to be held in their office. This way, you can get a better sense of how stable and successful their company is... or isn’t.

Do You Have Differentiation of Expertise; Graphic Designers, Developers and Programmers?

There is a lot that goes into building a website — and not only for the users but for Google’s eyes as well. Most of the time, these skills are not found in just one person.  To make sure you are hiring experts in their respective fields, ask to meet with the people who will be working on your website. If a company cannot produce experts in their individual areas, they may be outsourcing their services, which can ultimately result in lower quality products. You might as well hire Jo Schmo from Nantucket! (Note: No offense to Mr. Schmo.) Simply put, you should demand to know the team that works for you. Anything less than that will show in the performance of your website.

Are You a Design Firm or a Digital Marketing Firm?

Of course, design firms can build beautiful websites — but as many of our clients have realized before they came to us, even the most beautiful websites can lack proper on-page SEO. In the choice between the two, unless you have extensive digital marketing experience and just need design help, it’s in your best interest to hire a digital marketing firm. The research and planning that a marketing firm does before and during the building of your site is invaluable; the time lost time with a site built only for beauty can never be regained.

Do You Build Mobile Responsive Websites?

With mobile search on the rise, buying a website that is not mobile responsive will negatively affect your bottom line. As explained by Josh in a recent blog post, Google has updated their searches to show your potential clients if your website is mobile friendly. Essentially, this informs searchers that if they click on a website that is not mobile responsive, they will have a bad experience. Let’s go mobile!

Will You Perform Updates and Maintenance Once Our Website is Launched?

Some firms will charge you for everything under the sun, while other firms will include updates in their hosting plan. Always ask for full details about what’s included.

Note: The last thing you want to do is launch a website and then forget about it. Make sure you are making monthly changes to stay fresh and relevant.

Will We Be Able to Update the Website Ourselves?

This has been a biggie for some of my clients. Some firms will hold your website hostage and not allow you to make any updates so they can charge fees left and right. The other pain point here is that most of the time, it takes forever to get ahold of some digital marketing firms. As long as the site is built with a user friendly administrative system (look out — sharks sometimes build admin systems that are naturally difficult to use so that you have to pay more), you’ll want the ability to update your website, and the option to send updates to your firm if need be.

Note: There are updates that only your developer can do depending on the difficulty of the request.

How Much Will a Website Cost?

If a digital marketing firm gives you a cost estimate before sitting down and talking with you about your goals, this is a red flag. There is a good amount of research that needs to be done before a results-oriented website can be quoted. Also, as a rule of thumb: if the price just seems too good to be true, it probably is. An extremely cheap website will not be customized to your needs and likely will not be optimized for search engines, either.


By  Jake Bowlby

Jake Bowlby is a Sr Digital Marketing Strategist at Lift Division and has helped hundreds of businesses across Missouri grow sales and profits. Jake has considerable experience helping builders, contractors, restaurateurs and many other industries with brand development and lead generation.