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How To Select A Web Firm

web sites Creating a basic web page is not rocket science. Anyone with access to FrontPage or even Microsoft Word can create a simple web page. Building a web site, however, can be like the difference between building a birdhouse and constructing a skyscraper. If your web firm keeps talking about "web pages" instead of a "web site", you are likely dealing with amateurs.

Questions To Ask

How long have you been in business?

web technologyLike in any professional field, experience matters! A firm that has worked with many different clients can offer more than just web design/development expertise. They can become your technology partner. A good technology partner will help you make the best decisions possible, offering their unique expertise and insight to help you utilize your time and money as effectively as possible. They can help you get the most bang for your buck. A quality firm will make their success contigent on your success.

What tools will you use to build my web site?

web developmentProfessionals use tools like Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Adobe Photoshop. If your prospective web firm does not use professional tools, it's like they are trying to build a house with nothing but a hammer.

But even good tools can only get you so far. Does your web firm understand the underlying code that these tools produce? Do they speak HTML, CSS, XML, SQL, ASP.NET, etc. fluently? Are you dealing with the equivalent of a handyman when you really need a master carpenter?

Who will be hosting my web site?

web programmingTo save costs, many firms will host all their client web sites on their own servers, often connected to the internet only via the same DSL or cable provider that you can get at home. In essence, you are sharing bandwidth with all the other firm's clients. If the firm's internet connection fails, so will your web site. Would you trust your own home internet connection to host your web site?

A professional web firm will partner with a real hosting provider such as ReadyHosting or DiscountASP.net. These hosting partners can provide world-class reliability and support for your web site. How would it look to a prospective customer if your web site was regularly unavailable? Remember, your web site is your most important sales representative!

Do you have experience dealing with my industry/size/location/etc?

trainingTo produce a quality web site that reflects your business, the firm must be able to understand your business. Who are your prospective customers? What is your growth plan? Will the firm be able to meet your needs one year from now? Five years from now? A quality web firm acts like a consultant not just a service provider. They need to be able to handle your needs today and tomorrow; they should be able to anticipate your growth and help get you there!

Can you integrate my web site with my business?

systems integrationMost any web site can create a pretty web site but few firms have the expertise to integrate creative design with technological capability. A good web site should go beyond a simple online brochure; it should integrate with your core business. Are you running your business on spreadsheets or, worse yet, paper notebooks? A quality web firm can help you transform your business and realize the efficiencies and competitive advantages of the digital age.

Take your business to the next level!

Will you maintain my web site after you build it? Is maintenance included in the quote?

database developmentOften times, many firms will not maintain a web site after they create it. Why? Because they don't build it in a manner that makes it easy and profitable for them to maintain. They'd rather throw something together quick and dirty, collect their money, and move on to their next victim. Building a web site that is maintainable and expandable is part art and part science.

Also, make sure that their quote includes maintenance. Many firms may charge low for the upfront work and then gouge you on the maintenance work. Don't be fooled by a low quote! Make sure to consider the real costs of building and maintaining your web site.