So you need a well stocked website. One that is aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, easily found and can convert visitor traffic into customers. Who is the perfect fit for this important job? You’ve received a pile of proposal and seen flashy, positive-emotion packed sales presentations and there is still a question mark in your head. Who is the best fit for this important project for your business or organization? Here are a few things to consider on your journey:
1. Salesmanship does not equate to execution-man-ship
OK, I know execution-man-ship is not a word, but you get the idea. Just because a firm can sell really well, does not mean they can deliver on all their promises. Sometimes radical promises are made to save a cash flow shortage, or in mere excitement about doing the work, or to cover lack of staff. Make sure, beyond the portfolio and beyond the references stated in the proposal that the folks you are hiring are able to produce a top level product for you and will stand behind it.
How do they stand behind their work? You will not know this from the proposal, presentation, references or even verbally. You’ll need to track down some folks they’ve worked with where things might not have gone perfectly and find out how it was handled. Was it handled with screaming and righteousness? Or humble collapsing servitude? Or with the best interest of the client at heart? How a firm handles a fumble is far more important to a successful project than how they handle an occasional touchdown highlighted in their case studies.
3. Due Diligence
Due diligence is not just for M&A’s and real estate deals. It is for all significant expenditures. If you are spending between $5,000 and $500,000 on your new website, you’ll want to check trusted people in your circle to find out if your selected vendor is not just creative, but they are timely, manage projects well, produce what they say and most importantly, will stand behind their work and provide ongoing support for the work they’ve built. Ask the questions: “Have you changed your technology platform? – If so, how have you serviced your old platforms and how do you plan on it in the future?” “What happens if we come to a disagreement in the process; can you give examples of how you’ve handled that scenario in the past?”
Also, don’t 100% trust the “salesman” you are speaking to. Find references outside the references listed on the proposal and see how things went. People are generally not likely to open up bad experiences, unless probed, so probe deeply.
4. Look beyond the portfolio and people page
Some firms list projects they produced but were designed by other agencies, some list work done at other agencies before they sprouted their own entity without credits given to the team that worked on it in total. Also, some firms list people on their people page that are only loosely affiliated freelance help that may be leasing office space from them and helping occasionally.
You’ll want to ask two key questions
1. Was all the work listed on your portfolio design and developed in it’s entirety by your organization?
2. Are all of the current people on your people page full-time employees of your organization?
When hiring a firm – if you want freelance talent, then you don’t need a firm. If you want a cohesive team brimming with integrity – then you should get what you paid for.
5. Don’t be afraid to switch
What is the old adage? “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” In the middle of a project or after or subsequent project, don’t be afraid to try another firm, if the first one didn’t supply the value you were looking for, there is someone else out there eager to give it a shot.
John Miles is CEO/Chief of What’s Next at Integritive, an Asheville firm specializing in web design & development, strategic planning, social media and e-marketing. For more information: www.integritive.com or on Twitter www.twitter.com/integritiveJM