6 Tips for Selecting a Website Development Firm

As a firm that routinely goes through the process of RFI, RFP, proposal and presentation to be selected as an organization’s website redevelopment partner, we have become quite the expert on the qualifications and questions phase. I thought I’d share some of what we believe are best practices and ideal ways to differentiate among the competitors to keep in mind when your next redevelopment process begins.

642381191 – Understand that every organization is unique and you will likely be comparing apples to oranges (with an occasional grapefruit thrown in) even if you issue a concise RFP. This can work to your advantage, though, if you read between the lines and look for the personality of the organization to come through—you are, after all, dealing with people not an entity.   

2 – Make sure they understand and can state how they will achieve the goals of the site. This obviously means you need to identify and prioritize those goals. A good partner will have an opinion on them, likely add to them and understand how to achieve them.

3 – Determine to what extent you’d like user personas to be developed and utilized. Larger organizations should make this a vital step with in-depth development. Smaller organizations can do a ‘light’ version, but every redevelopment project needs to be clear about who the site is being designed and built for, and what their expectations are. This is a usability issue pure and simple. You can search the web for much more information on UX and UI design, and check out this site of award winning sites based on UX.  

4 – Do they know your industry and your market? This can be a tricky one, because so many organizations put significant weight on having done substantial work in their specific industry. While this is often a positive trait and experience should not be discounted, sometimes fresh perspectives are best. The key to the question here is ‘do they know’ not ‘have they done’. If the prospect firm can demonstrate a meaningful understanding of the market, they may bring a welcome view from ‘the outside.’

5 – What are the organization’s core services? Though it may seem logical to partner with a web development firm for web development, marketing in today’s world must be fully integrated and complimentary. What exactly is a digital agency when everything is digital? If you’re not in consumer products, your website is the backbone of your brand—doing the heavy lifting after inbound and outbound tactics do their job. That means the firm you choose needs to live and breathe ‘brand’—not just follow graphic style guides—but be able to express your brand’s personality, promise and differentiation, as well as corporate culture, value propositions and brand essence in a true and meaningful way.

6 – And finally, you should know what they’ll want to know before beginning. This can often be the most telling sign of a detail-oriented and outcomes-committed firm. At McKnight Kurland, we ask numerous questions before and during the discovery phase, such as:

– What is the internal approval process?
– What does success look like?
– Why do this now?

livewire-tabletA recent redevelopment project for LiveWire Electrical Systems brought this process to light. The organization was expanding its services to include concrete construction and utility work, and needed marketing to align with their new capabilities. We were selected through an RFP process that provided us an opportunity to implement these 6 insights to our advantage. Read about the organization in our case study.

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