Comparing Proposals

We often hear from prospective clients that they’re surprised at the differences in costs and deliverables between website design companies.

We’re also often shocked at how much mis-information people have been given, much of it wrong or outdated — especially when it comes to SEO! To help you decipher proposals, and compare “apples to apples,” we offer the following information as a service to you.


#1: Determine the type of website you’re actually getting.

A web design firm can give you a quote for a new website, but leave out important information, such as which content management system (CMS) is being used, or if the website is being “customized” using a cheap or licensed template thousands of other companies are using.

Questions you should ask each design firm as you gather proposals include:

  • Is the website a custom-coded, custom-designed website or are you using a pre-built template?
  • If you’re using a licensed framework, which one are you using and why?
  • Which CMS platform are you using? (WordPress, Joomla, or something else)
  • Will the website be responsive (i.e. mobile-friendly) and will you be testing it on mobile devices before go-live?
  • Who will enter the content in the CMS? (Some design firms leave this up to you.)
  • Will you be optimizing the content for us or do we need to hire someone to do that?
  • Will we be able to make updates to the website ourselves once the project is complete?

#2: Does the project fee include ALL aspects of the website redesign — or just the design?

Often, website design projects run into unforeseeable glitches, or you may want to take this time to move to a new web host.

When interviewing design firms, ask the following:

  • Do you have the technical capabilities to move our website to a new host?
  • If we run into any glitches, who will fix them? (Glitches can include malware or Google Analytics issues, to name a few things.)
  • If you’re using a pre-built template, do you have a programmer on staff who can customize the CSS for us?
  • Do you migrate the new site over for us or do we have to do that?
  • Once the site is live, will you be providing user training?

#3: Is all new copy included in the project fee — or are you responsible for writing it?

The hardest part of creating a new website is the one reason companies put it off for so long: creating the copy.

(Smaller manufacturers often let their websites get so outdated, they need all new content created from scratch.)

If you’re getting quotes from multiple firms, ask if the project fee includes all new copy. If it does, ask the following:

  • Who will be writing the copy — someone in-house or do you farm it out?
  • Will the person writing the copy have manufacturing experience and understand our industry and customers?
  • Will the copy and design communicate the same message — and how will you guarantee that?
  • Will the copy be optimized for search?
  • Is the person creating the content also well versed and up-to-date with regard to Google and search/SEO? What is their experience?
  • Can you provide sample manufacturing websites for which you’ve written the copy?

You’ll also want to ask if the design firm will provide a photographer and/or work with you to create the shot list, attend the photoshoot, etc.


#4: Revisions — will you have to pay extra?

Some web design firms may charge you for revisions once you’ve received the initial designs.

It pays to ask what exactly the proposal entails and how many rounds of revisions you’re allowed before — and after — go-live and how much these revisions will cost.


#5: Are references available?

You want to determine who will be responsible for your project. Will you be working with an account manager or with someone who has no idea who you are or your business?

You’ll also want to ask how quickly people will get back to you, and how you can contact your project manager or other key people.

And last but not least, ask for three references of companies that had websites built 3 – 6 months ago and call them! A few questions to ask references include:

  • Was the project finished on time and on budget?
  • Was the person who designed the website knowledgable and able to troubleshoot and fix any issues?
  • Are you able to make updates to the website and how easy is it for you?
  • Are you getting good inquiries from your new website and is it helping you to close sales?
  • Are you running into any issues with your website and how responsive is the design firm in addressing them?
  • Would you recommend this design firm or design consultant for my company? Why or why not?