Although the cost of a website is an important factor for a business to decide which website company to work with, there are other major factors to compare website design companies including:
1.Development platform: Open source or proprietary? If open source, how many other developers are available in your market to switch to in the event you need to make a change?
2.Online reviews: Review the testimonials a website company has earned online from their customers. Check Google, Facebook at least.
3.Portfolio: Review at least a portion of the design portfolio of the website design company. Are their designs and features/functionality inline with the expectations you have or your own website?
4.Ranking: If you are looking for a website company that can also help you with search engine optimization, do an incognitio/inprivate search for a keyword like "website design [insert your zip code]" and related terms. Does the company you are evaluating rank on the first page and on the Google Business Directory? If they haven't done it for themselves, how confident are you that they can do it for your business?
5.Customer Service: Find out up front what the process is to get the website updated after it goes live. What turnaround time does the company commit to in writing, how much do updates cost or how much time is included in the maintenance plan. If the company does not offer ongoing service, what is your plan to get this done?
6.Hosting and Security: Does the website company take ownership of ongoing hosting and security for the website? Do they download and install any platform architecture updates, security updates, plugin patches, etc? Note: Only 22% of WordPress sites are running on the latest version of WordPress! Will load speed on mobile devices be monitored and adjustments recommended to conform to search engine expectations?
7.Community Engagement: Is the website design comany a member of the local chamber of commerce, Rotary or other reputable business organization? This speaks to staying power, maturity and a general business acumen about the importance of being engaged in the community.
8.Training: Does the website company offer training on administering your website on your own? Is training time included in your agreement or is it an extra cost?
9.WordPress Theme: If the website company is building in WordPress, what theme do they propose (note: there are thousands)? Not all themes are created equal. Not all themes work well on mobile devices. Not all themes are suitable for search engine optimization. Not all themes are well supported by their creators. Just because a theme looks cool doesn't mean it's a good solution for your business. Some website companies remain loyal to certain themes because they know them well which reduces their time and cost to build your website and are reluctant to embrace learning new themes in an industry which is constantly innovating.
BONUS TIP! 10.Secure Socket Layer (SSL): Does your website build agreement include the purchase and install of an SSL certificate to increase website security and conform with Google's recommendation?