Time For A New Website! Where Do You Begin?

This week’s lesson on using emerging media to enhance a brand, as it relates to company websites, couldn’t have been timelier. The organization I work for has given me the thumbs up for a new website. I must say I am eager yet scared. I’ve done website re-launches in the past and realize that they are a big task. But working with a great graphic designer or design company can make the process so much easier.

We are in the process of evaluating design companies. But where do you start, what questions do you ask and what should you look for in a design firm? “Start by looking at websites you enjoy visiting, and that appear to have a good community and engaged following. Does it say at the bottom of the website who designed and programmed it?” (Jarvis, 2014). I also researched web design firms that specialized in our industry (non-profits). I reviewed each of their websites and looked at their portfolios. After deciding which ones I liked, I started with introductory phone calls. “You want to make sure you understand how they communicate, since they’ll be responsible for visually communicating your online business. Do they talk in technical jargon or Star Trek references? Are they clear about what they can provide for you? What is their process?” (Jarvis, 2014). For me, having phone conversations gives the initial vibe of synergy if that company would be a great fit or not. Communication is key!

Here’s a list of important questions to ask before you hire anyone:

  • Can you provide a list of five references I can contact?
  • Do you do this full-time and how long have you been doing web design?
  • What is your process?
  • What is the typical budget range for your projects? How are payments broken down for projects?
  • What is the typical turn-around time for your projects?
  • When can the project be started?
  • What do you need from me before we start?
  • Do your clients see a return on investment? Do you have proof of increased conversion rates or goals being achieved after you’ve done a redesign?
  • Does the price include making the site mobile friendly?
  • Will the site be supported by retina screens?
  • Do you custom design or use templates?
  • Who will own the website design when it’s paid for?
  • Do you offer maintenance or training or post-launch support?
  • Who is the contact person and who is doing the work? Is anything outsourced or subcontracted out?

(Jarvis, 2014).

Since the initial phone calls, we had more calls and some web presentations. Each company is aware of what we are looking for, our budget and timeframe. They have each submitted proposals for the job.

From the designer’s perspective, the proposal could make the difference between winning and losing the job. “A compelling proposal requires more than a jumble of clichés and a nervous estimate of costs. It needs structure, organization, and joie de vivre” (Peretic, 2011). The proposal should, at minimum provide the client with answers to a few fundamental questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why are you bidding on this project?
  3. What do you propose to do?
  4. When will it be done?
  5. How much will it cost?

(Peretic, 2011).

As of today, we are reviewing each proposal and hope to make a decision within the next few weeks.



  1. Yes! Everyone should print out that list and tape it to their phone when screening potential firms. There are so many crucial elements that influence the web design process, so it’s important to choose the right people for the job. How do the answers to these questions influence you as a designer to work with the right clients?


    1. I think it’s all about synergy and capabilities. As a designer you should get a feel for the type of client you could be working with. When answering those questions, a designer should be aware of their capabilities and not commit to something they can’t do.


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