So you need a website to start your business? If you aren’t comfortable building it yourself and don’t know anyone who could help, hiring a communications agency surely seems like the right approach! But still, you’re nervous about getting lost in the terminology, not getting your point across, paying too much for their services or ending up with a website you won’t know how to use on your own… Those things can happen… but don’t panic just yet, we’re here to help you prepare!
This article lays out the bases you will need before getting in touch with agencies, as well as the points that require special attention when examining the quotes you receive. This way, you’ll be better equipped to co-construct the best possible website!
That’s right, before running to an agency, make sure you can provide them with firm and relevant details. It saves time and energy on all sides!
Four key points for a successful start:
- The purpose of your website
Do you need a showcase website to present your business? An e-commerce site to sell products and services? A content site to promote your expertise via articles? Or perhaps something else? For more information on the topic, I recommend this article.
- Your technical abilities
Online, are you somewhat, very or not at all comfortable? The involvement of an agency (and the price tag!) will strongly depend on this factor, so be honest with yourself.
- Your need to delegate
To what degree do you want the agency to help? For your logo, your graphic charter, drafting and translating texts? Are those things you will do yourself or do you hope to delegate?
- Your budget
Have a realistic approach, keeping in mind the two points above. Nobody will be able to build you a comprehensive e-commerce website for 2000 euro! Determine your ideal figure as well as an upper limit beyond which you would have to rethink your expectations.
Contact some agencies
For this step, I recommend following the rules below:
- Draw up your specifications (in whatever form you choose) laying out your project and expectations. Convey a clear picture of your project and the website that would help you achieve your objectives.
- Ask around for referrals, but make sure the agencies on your shortlist are open to working with budding businesses.
- It can be tempting to cut costs by selecting a delocalized agency, but it usually leads to lost time and money. Distance and language barrier are not success factors. Make sure you are able to get your message across without a shadow of a doubt.
- Trust your gut! If you find an agency does a sloppy job of the prep work, isn’t that interested in your questions, etc., they’re likely not the right work partner. Skip to the next one!
Challenge the quote
At this point, you have a quote in your hands. It’s generally a few pages long and should respond to the needs you expressed. A big step forward! Yet it might still seem hard to understand, pricy, convoluted… Let’s take a closer look.
First, stay calm and don’t be shy to ask for explanations of terms you aren’t familiar with. It’s a great way to test the readiness (and patience!) of your potential agency.
If you really are not comfortable in the area, I recommend asking an outside third-party you trust to look at the quote and point you in the right direction. It could be a friend or family member (do beware of your techie nephew who’s always gaming but has never laid eyes on a quote…) or an organization that has been helping you in your business project. For instance, nyuko can help you challenge your quotes via its entrepreneurial support programs.
Neither option works for you? All is not lost just yet! Here are the main aspects to check:
- Alignment with your specs
You spent time describing your project and vision. Does the quote reflect your needs? Point by point, make sure everything is there and ask for explanations for anything missing.
Your website’s content can be both time-consuming and costly. If content is quoted in the estimate, look at the cost it represents and think whether or not you could find an alternate solution (even if it means hiring someone to do your translations, for instance).
This is usually where you’ll run into a plethora of technical terms: SEO, indexation, metadata… Website optimization is important, but it’s often where budgets escalate too. Optimizing a showcase site doesn’t take a week…
Does the quote include additional run-throughs to finalize structure, design, content…? If so, how many? At least 3 would seem right to me. If it’s not in the quote, ask the agency how they go about it. Sometimes it can involve hidden costs that inflate the final budget.
Has the agency planned a training time to teach you to manage your website? Would you need it? If so, make sure it’s in the quote. If not (and you’re sure of yourself), you can opt out.
- Hosting and maintenance
The agency is offering to build your website, but what happens next? You will of course need a domain name (yourcompany.lu for example) and web hosting (to stock your site online). Beyond that, I strongly recommend planning your site maintenance (updates) for medium and long-terms. Are such annual expenses provided for in the quote? The first two, you can take care of yourself (all you need to do is pay the host). But not maintenance. Maintenance is vital for your site’s longevity, and it’s extremely important to know how it will be handled prior to signing the quote.
- Your website can be built in several steps: the basics in the beginning to launch your activity, and modules that can be added as you go depending on income. Agencies are generally open to this type of arrangement. Is yours?
I hope these elements will help you approach this step of your business launch with more confidence! Either way, take your time. You won’t change websites every other week… so it’s better to delay its publication but see eye-to-eye with your agency than to make a hasty decision that leads to unpleasant surprises!
If you would like some advice on the topic, get in touch with the team at nyuko!
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