Finding the right agency to build any new website can be quite tricky, but finding the right one to create your site can be a truly daunting task. To make life a little easier for you, here are five tips you should follow when considering which agency is the best one to suit your small business web design needs.

1. What are the costs for a small business website?

It is always a good idea to get more than one estimate when you begin to look at candidates. While the cheapest may seem like a good option at the beginning, they may not do everything needed to host your website afterwards. Meanwhile, the most expensive may look fancy, but it could be eating too far into your budget.

When deciding on who can supply the best deal for your business, it is advisable to approach up to five agencies for estimates. Not only will this give you an idea of what costs the agencies are charging, but it will allow you to ask what exactly you're paying for.

Those with limited experience in this industry may not fully understand what creating a website from scratch entails. Make sure that any proposal you receive details precisely what they are creating for you. For example, if you're creating a shop, ask them to show you how the payment system will be designed but also how they imagine the product listings to look.

However, once the website is up and running, that is not the end of the story. All proposals should cover any further costs for maintaining, hosting and updating your website, not just the initial development. Some companies may not even carry out these tasks to your site after the initial development stage, meaning you will need to find another company that will. Make sure you are aware of all aspects of the service provided before making a final decision.

Shore3 offers managed website plans where you pay very minimal upfront costs and instead lease your site. Maintenance, updates and hosting are all included.

2. What previous experience does the firm have?

It is always a good idea to check out an agency's experience and reviews where possible. As a general rule of thumb, it is good to be able to find out three key things:

  1. How many years has the agency been in business for?
  2. How many websites have they developed?
  3. What is their client retention rate?

All reputable agencies should be able to give you figures on the above.

3. Who's your point of contact?

It is incredibly important to know who the team consists of and where they are located. It is essential to find out precisely who will be creating your website, and who you should contact if problems arise. Having a named point of contact is integral to the success of your site and provides added accountability if you feel something is not going quite right.

4. What kind of support will you receive?

What kind of support should you expect after the website has been launched? That may depend on what the agent has agreed with you at the proposal stage, but at the very least you should have a point of contact that you can call or email for all inquiries. It is worth asking if there is a separate customer service that you can to speak to if your dedicated point of contact is not in work.

Is the company based outside of the US? If so, their working hours and holidays may differ significantly, which can be frustrating at best and critical at worst. Any contacts you make are human, and will likely be on holiday or off sick at some point. Therefore, it is vital to know someone else on the team is willing to step in to look after your work in their absence.

You will also need to know how to contact them and during what hours you can expect a response. Make sure that they are willing to give you direct dials and email addresses where possible and clearly define their working hours.

The Shore3 team are based in the USA. Our team includes remote members spread around the US, with some of our staff based at our headquarters in California. This gives us incredible access to top talent across the country in a variety of markets.

5. Which technology will be used?

Many agencies use open source technology such as WordPress which is free and may not be completely secure. It is well known that WordPress security is not highly reputable and over 70% of WordPress sites on the web right now have at least one security vulnerability, according to a study by cyber security firm Enable Security. Agencies using WordPress should also be able to demonstrate that they can prevent any potential hacks and provide a higher level of protection for your site.

It is critical to find out who will be managing the security of your website and the turnaround time of repairing and replacing any code if the security is breached. Prevention is key when it comes to potential hacks, so make sure an agency is transparent about how they plan to keep your website secure.

Shore3 uses an advanced website platform that is monitored 24/7 for any downtime or security breaches. It’s also not based on WordPress which is inherently insecure.

The Bottom Line

When you're shopping for a new website, you aren't just buying the site itself, you are choosing a partner for your business for years to come. Take the time to due your diligence and ask about the 5 topics above to ensure you make the right decision for your small business.

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