May 7, 2015
by Lori Shecter

MUSTS for hiring a new web design company

Design SitesWhat do you do you do when a programmer gives you a quote and then comes back 15 months later and says they now need 4 times as the original estimate to finish? I saw this question in one of my Linked In groups and it begged the question of “why did you wait so long to investigate delivery?” While the developer is most likely at fault, would you hand off the construction of your house for a year and a half without getting weekly (if not daily updates) on the construction? But the other question is, did you keep adding to the project without getting estimates from your developer? So, I can’t easily say what to do in this case without having the full details, but I can tell you how Weareimmediate prevents this and what you need to do to prevent it from happening in your projects:

WRITE: a detailed request for your website (or as best you can with the knowledge that you have.
REQUEST: proposals from a variety of web companies (both large and small) and if time allows, evaluate 3-5 proposals.
QUESTION AND ANSWERS: before the developer submits a proposal. If there are no questions, it can indicate that this company may not be as detail oriented as needed for your project.
USE PHONE/SKYPE CALL: nothing like the human voice behind the computer. In person pitches are even better. Going back to the home contractor…would you hire them through email? So much for the digital age.
INTERVIEW: after you’ve received proposals, at least phone interview all potential developers to verify all the functionality and go over any details you feel may have been left out of your initial request, or may have been left out of their proposal.
REVISIONS: may be necessary after the first submission. It can happen that their original estimate might be too low (or too high) after the interview or more details of your project are discovered.
REFERENCES: ask for verifiable references from the companies whose website they’ve built.
SANDBOX: have them show you the actual workings (admin panel, content management system) of a similar website they have built.
DISCOVER: this can be 4 hours or 4 weeks depending on the complexity of your project. Yes, the developer does charge for their time during this phase, but believe me, it will save time and pain later in your project. We don’t usually charge if the discovery is under 4 hours. Hopefully any unexpected changes or additions come up during discovery. We have found that once we start digging into a project some clients think of new things they want to add immediately rather than have a phase II.
PROCESS: How will you make sure you are going to get what they promise you? This should include project scope, project plan with delivery dates, wireframes, design, approvals, and iterations.
COMMUNICATE: Have a minimum of 1-2 meetings per week (SKYPE/PHONE) You should see progress at every meeting. If you don’t, make sure you have documented reasons what the issues are. Document the discussions and make sure issues have a delivery date.
PAYMENT: Do not pay for your site upfront. Depending on the length of the project, we recommend splitting payments up into milestones, for example: deposit, end of design, beginning of development, QA, and Live.
And last and most important…

THE DEVIL IS IN THE CONTRACT

This is not about Force Majeure or Acts of God. Although recently between the earthquakes and hurricanes in NY, it’s probably not a bad idea to include that!

Make sure that ALL details of your project are outlined in your contract including timing, costs, detailed functionality, number of creative changes that are included, costs of any purchased artwork or photos, testing and Quality Assurance (this can add 2 weeks to make sure site is stable) guaranteed functionality (we guarantee our work for 3 months) and project plan. Sometimes a developer will add a 10% clause. With customization, there is a certain amount of uncertainty in the length of a project. Both sides SIGN THE CONTRACT. And keep it in a safe place.

Even if the developer is someone you know, get a contract. Even friends make mistakes and it’s good to have a piece of paper to make sure you are all on the same page.