So you’ve decided on using Joomla for your next website design project and you’re in the process of looking for web design companies to quote on your site. There’s so many options, questions and ways of building websites these days it’s hard to know what questions to ask, right?
There are many questions you can ask a potential web design company or contract web developer, and these will be dependant on the requirements of your project. Before you even start looking at companies to build a website for you... you will need to have a clear understanding of what you want your website to do and the functionality requirements of your new website. That being the case, there are several areas you will need to cover before getting to the stage where you’re asking Joomla website development companies for a quote.
Get your website content sorted before you contact web design companies
Do you have your content written or will you need a copywriter to come up with the site content for you? Writing content takes time and can be the number one thing that holds up a website design project. If you haven’t got your content written before you approach companies (and you intend on writing it yourself), it’s a good idea to think about making a start on your content now.
Most sites have a pretty standard structure when it comes to the content on their websites. If you’re not sure where to start you can create a sitemap blueprint (16 web-pages) like the one below and expand on it:-
- About us
- Sub-service 1
- Gold sub-service 1
- Silver sub-service 1
- Bronze sub-service 1
- Sub-service 2
- Gold sub-service 2
- Silver sub-service 2
- Bronze sub-service 2
- Sub-service 1
- Case studies
- Contact us
If you require copywriting services there are many companies that offer this service (including Marketeam!). If you’re interested in using Marketeam for your copywriting services take a look at our SEO copywriting Services page for more info.
Map out the website functionality you need before you contact web designers
This is where many website projects can stall. If you’re not sure of the functionality you require on your site, many hours can be wasted scoping out a project so a web designer can quote effectively.
Start thinking about how you want your website to work and what elements you would like on your site like:-
- A blog component
- A photo gallery
- Event management features
- Online store
- Online surveys
- Contact forms
- Google Maps integration
- Social media integration
- etc, etc
By having a thorough understanding of what your website design project requires you will help web design companies to quote more accurately and potentially reduce additional costs down the track.
A quick note on Developers vs Designers
When looking for designers or developers, many people tend to lump these two terms into the same basket. It’s worth noting that there are slight differences between a designer and a developer.
What a Joomla Designer does
This is a person or a company that can create a great looking website for you and use Joomla as the system to manage the content. Their focus can be on many different things but typically they will focus on a great looking design, user experience and how the site ties together with your branding.
What a Joomla Developer does
A developer is typically someone much more capable with code and the inner workings of Joomla and its plugins, modules and components. If you need customisation done to the way Joomla works (or a component like a shopping cart or photo gallery feature) then a developer is the person you want to look for.
OK, so onto the questions you should ask a Joomla web design company before you launch into a project...
1. When my Joomla website has been built - what do I own?
This is a really important point to cover. Make sure you understand what it is that you own and what you don’t own. Some web design agencies will set up domain names, hosting, email, analytics and other associated elements of your site on accounts they own. AVOID THIS.
At Marketeam we think it’s incredibly important that clients own ALL their online accounts including hosting, domains and analytics etc.
2. How long will it take to build my Joomla website?
This is always an interesting question to answer and it really depends on the type of project that’s being undertaken and the turn around time for things like design approvals, copywriting, photos being sent and other information that web designers need to create a website for you. Here at Marketeam we usually say around 3-6 weeks is pretty standard depending on the type of site, the amount of functionality and how quickly clients get back to us with approvals.
3. Will I get a mobile friendly Joomla website?
With mobile getting bigger and bigger every day it makes sense to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. This could mean that you have a separate mobile template for your website or you could ask for your site to be built in responsive design (What is responsive design?). Either way if your Joomla web designer is half decent at their job you should be having a mobile friendly Joomla website built.
4. What’s your billing process for building websites?
Many businesses provide different billing options. Some take payment up front, others do part payments (for example 50% up front and 50% upon completion or 25% up front, 50% when the design has been signed off and the remaining 25% upon completion). Make sure you understand the billing process so you don’t get a bill at the end you’re not expecting.
5. What’s included in the Joomla website build?
This seems like a pretty standard and straightforward question but there’s something in our industry that we call scope creep. This is when a client keeps adding more and more functionality to the project which blows out time-frames, budget and is incredibly frustrating for web design companies. As mentioned at the top of this article make sure you understand what functionality you need before you contact web design companies, or alternatively ask your web designer to go through this process with you for a fee.
6. Will my Joomla site come up in Google?
This is a question we get asked all the time and it’s very important to understand the difference between SEO friendly and SEO optimised.
SEO Friendly - This simply means that search engines are able to crawl through your website and take copies of the pages to put in their index. This does not mean that you will ‘show up in Google’ for your keyword terms.
SEO Optimised - This means that your content and keywords have been optimised on the website. This usually involves SEO copywriting and the updating of title tags, description tags, internal links and many other elements on your website.
SEO friendly is NOT SEO optimised. It’s very important to understand this distinction as many people hear SEO friendly and think their website is going to show up #1 on Google for their product or service.
7. Will my Joomla website be secure?
There’s lots and lots of ways that hackers can get into websites these days. Most of the time it’s an exploit that’s been found with the core software but many times it’s due to badly built third party components that web design agencies install without doing due diligence on the security of these components. Ask your potential developer what they do to ensure the security of your website. Find out how we fight hacking attempts and how we use updates to keep your site secure.
8. What are the ongoing costs involved with running my Joomla website?
As Joomla is a free download there shouldn’t be any ongoing costs other than your hosting and domain name. If companies offer additional services like SEO Copywriting, Joomla Admin packs, or Joomla Support Packs these may incur an additional fee or monthly retainer, but overall there shouldn’t be ongoing fees to access your website.
9. Who’s in charge of adding content?
Nine times out of ten clients update their own websites (that’s the whole idea of building the site in a content management system), but it will depend on the agency and the contract you have with them.
10. What support is provided for me after you build the site?
Some companies offer a limited time of support and other bill by the hour for every call you make or support ticket you submit. Ask questions and be aware of what support is available if you need it after the site has been built and the training has been provided.
There are many more questions I could have added to this list but I’ve tried to keep it at ten. At the end of the day you need to ensure you ask loads of questions from your potential web design company and ensure you know the ins and outs of how they work before you sign on the dotted line.