So you decided that your website needs a makeover and you have asked for proposals from one or (preferably) more web designers or developers. The proposals vary in style, detail, and price. At a glance, there may be no clear winner. You shouldn’t just pick the one with the lowest cost or the one with the slickest presentation—you need to dig a bit deeper. Here are some questions to keep in mind when evaluating a website redesign proposal:
1. How detailed is the current-site assessment?
A good redesign proposal should include an assessment of the current site, including the overall visual design, usability, and SEO strategy. The assessment should demonstrate a solid understanding of the website’s audience and what you want to accomplish with your site, and should have specific recommendations for improvement.
2. How do the comps look?
Much of the impact of a website redesign will be visual, and no website redesign proposal is complete without a selection of ideas for the visual design. There should be at least three, but probably no more than five or six. The ideas shouldn’t just be pretty or cool; they should show that the designer understands what you want to achieve with the redesign. Don’t forget the mobile versions—if an important part of your target audience will be accessing your site from phones or tablets, make sure the designs translate well to the mobile form factor.
3. How much custom coding is needed?
4. What support is provided?
A comprehensive website redesign proposal will include provisions for support during and after deployment, particularly if there is extensive custom coding. The support section should indicate what problems they will be responsible for, what they will do about them, and how quickly they will do it. In addition, there should be an explanation of costs for ongoing routine maintenance.
Another thing you should consider related to support: What maintenance will you be able to do yourself, and what do you need to call the developer for? If you expect to frequently change or add photos or videos to your site, for example, there should be some way of doing this yourself, rather than depending on the developer.
5. Who are the references?
In addition to examples of sites that are similar to yours, the proposal should provide contact information for other clients that you can call to ask questions about the developer’s performance and quality.
6. How much will it really cost?
The cost estimate in a good proposal should be broken down as granularly as possible, so you know what really goes into the final cost. This also gives you a better basis from which to negotiate.
You website is a marketing tool, and the cost of building it should be measured not just against the budget you have in mind, but also against the return you expect to get from it. Do the math and see what proposal will get you the biggest (and best) bang for the buck.