Web design has changed dramatically in the last few years, so much so, that you can create and launch a website in about 20 minutes. If you wanted to.
The science behind web design, and the way that consumers are interacting with websites, has also changed dramatically. Which is why you might want an expert to create your website for you rather than do it yourself.
Do You Trust It?
Let’s face it, these are the first thoughts that flash through our mind when we view something on the web – can I trust this? Is this real? Do I really believe that this business/person can do what they are claiming?
If you have a poorly constructed website then the answer to these questions is very often ‘No’.
Of course not.
The quickest glance tells you straight away that these sites are well constructed, and without hesitation you begin searching for what you need.
But How Do You Know Which Website Design Agency Is Right For Your Accounting Firm?
With so many web design agencies available; domestically, globally, and at all ends of the price spectrum, it can be very difficult determining which one is the right fit for your accounting firm.
The best approach is to use a comprehensive hiring process. Ask them questions just like you would a prospective member of staff. Interview them, check their references, review past results and go over a portfolio of their work before you make any decisions.
Once you have done your due diligence, then choosing the best web designer for your firms new website should become a simple matter.
Here are 12 questions to ask the web design agency before you work with them.
1. Does your agency do all the work in house?
This is great question to start with, because in some agencies the work is shipped to an independent contractor, often overseas. The sourcing of talent isn’t the issue here though. Many independent contractors of web design are excellent. But be aware of how they answer, and ensure that you will be able to communicate directly to the designer if you need.
2. What other services do you offer?
Many companies that offer web design services also offer complimentary services; web hosting, copywriting, branding, logo design, web/app development and marketing services like SEO and social media management.
While all of these services seem very inter related, they do all require very different skills and experience to master.
So while you may want to find a ‘one stop shop’ remember that just because they are good at one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be good at another.
Here at TwentyTwo Agency our focus is on content marketing but we do offer web design services. This came about because we discovered that many accounting firms websites weren’t fit to purpose when looked at as a marketing tool. We specialise in creating lead generation and client acquisition websites.
3. Can you provide examples of websites that your company designed?
Looking at previous work will give you an insight into whether you feel they are a good fit for you firm. You can also evaluate the performances of the site, the ease of use, how well suited they are to the businesses they represent. Ask questions as well, discover why each site looks the way it does.
4. What is included in the price?
It is very important to know exactly what you are paying for when you are given a project proposal. Ask if there is an itemised list of deliverables, find out what is included, what isn’t and why. Some firms offer hosting, domain name purchase, ongoing support and maintenance and this may or may not be included on the price.
It is also important that you know the payment schedule, and how any work outside the scope of the initial project will be billed.
5. How long will it take to complete my site?
How quickly a website is completed (usually) depends on the scope of the work. A large membership site with video content and controlled access will take longer then a 5-page brochure site. The speed with which you can supply everything your web designer needs will also impact this.
A good web design agency will set out a timeline with quantifiable milestones.
6. What do you need from me to get started?
A web design project can be started without many assets, indeed, many of the components of a website are created during the project.
But in order to create a website that is aligned with your business the designer MUST have a good understanding of you and your business, your future goals and your intended marketing activities (so the website can support this). This can be achieved through a questionnaire, an interview or a strategy session. Be wary if your web designer suggests you simply send over your logo and leave the rest to him.
To ensure your project moves smoothly and swiftly you will also want your designer to have.
Branding Guidelines: this will include logo and its variants, fonts, colours, tone of voice and example images to use.
Login Credentials: Websites are no longer stand alone products, they integrate with email marketing platforms, customer relationship management tools, social media and more. Have a document prepared with all of the relevant login urls, usernames and passwords, or use a progamme like Lastpass.
Links: If you have any social media profiles, online profiles or other assets that need to be linked to online it is a good idea to have these listed in a document before the project begins.
7. Can design changes be made after completion?
Yes should always be the answer here.
A website should never be seen as ‘done’. They should always be evolving. This could be the addition of pages, buttons, menu items or new images as your firm grows. Through to something more comprehensive known as ‘Growth Driven Design’ where your website is constantly tested, evaluated and improved over time. Either way, you will need to make sure that you can change the website after the project is complete.
8. What type of content management system do you use?
The content management system (CMS) is what allows you to manage the content of your accounting firms’ website without the need for coding. Will the web design agency manage the site for you after completion, or do they offer training on this so one of your firms staff can look after it.
Here at TwentyTwo we favour WordPress. It is the worlds’ most popular website platform, ranks well in Google, is easy to use and well supported. We train all of our website clients in how to use their website with a series of videos and a live session.
9. Will it be completely mobile responsive?
These days there is no excuse for website to not be beautiful and effective at all screen sizes. We know that most users are viewing the web from their phones first, so if your website doesn’t work on all screen sizes, it will lose you business.
That doesn’t mean that it is exactly the same content on all devices, but it should be the same experience, the same objectives and the same outcomes for all users.
10. Will I own my website once it’s completed?
There are many components to a website and they are all assets for your business. You can have a someone manage them for you, but it is important that you own them
Questions to ask include, who will own domain name (be sure this is registered in your businesses name, not the design agency’s), the web hosting (again, in your name, not the design agency). Do you receive all the original artwork, images and files? Are you tied into an ongoing maintenance contract automatically, or is the site delivered to you upon completion?
Make sure that you receive a complete list of everything that was purchased for your website, where it was purchased from, and any logins and passwords needed.
11. Will it include data capture?
For a professional services website to be effective it simply MUST start a conversation with it’s visitors. This takes place in the form of data capture. It can be as simple as a form on the ‘contact’ page but usually involves the exchange of an email address for some kind of information that your visitors will find valuable and interesting. With this email address you can then continue to speak to them, building the relationship and making a sale.
Without data capture, your website isn’t effective as it could be.
12. How will I know it’s working?
There are many tools that web designers/developers use to monitor the performance on a website. Google Analytics is the most common. When you receive your site it is very important that Google Analytics be set up and ready to use. If it isn’t mentioned in the brief, then be sure to add it.
Of course there are many more questions that you could possibly ask, and you probably will. But these are the ones that you must ask, and that will give you the best idea of whether the web design agency you are speaking to is capable of creating a website that is professional and effective.
P.S. When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you with marketing and growing your accounting practice:
1. Grab free copy of my book
It’s the roadmap to attracting better prospects, signing higher value clients and scaling your accounting firm. – Click Here
2. Take the test.
It will benchmark your firms ability to effortlessly attract, connect with & convert high value clients using the Pioneering Practice Scorecard. – Click here
3. Join the tribe and connect with firms who are growing too.
It’s our new Facebook community where ambitious founders, owners, and partners learn to attract better prospects, sign higher value clients and scale their accounting firm. – Click here