Hiring someone to design and build your B2B website can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to find a firm whose design aesthetic matches what you want for your B2B website design, but you also need to think about the development skills they bring to the table. Not all web development firms are created equal.
Here are some tips on questions to ask a potential web design partner.
Unless you’re working with a very large agency, be aware of specialization. For example, Bop Design is a WordPress web design shop. If you wanted a website built in Drupal, SiteCore, or Umbraco, we wouldn’t be a good fit. In fact, we won’t build sites in anything but WordPress—but not all agencies will turn away work.
If you know you need to have a site built in a specific CMS, ask the agency for examples of past sites built with that CMS. If they can only provide you with one or two examples, proceed with caution. While it’s certainly possible to learn a new CMS, and even build a beautiful, functioning site, there’s still a risk. At Bop, we have over a decade of experience with WordPress. We’ve seen a lot of weird things and unusual implementations. That means we’re better equipped to handle issues you might encounter.
Read more: B2B web development trends.
Assuming your new B2B website will use WordPress as the CMS, you’ll need to ask some questions about how the firm handles the back-end. Do they use a page builder, the Gutenberg editor, or something else? Can they give you a login to other sites they’ve built, so you can get a sense of how easy it is to edit? If you’re on the fence about the examples you see, ask the development firm what their philosophy is for setting up the WordPress admin.
Here at Bop, we typically don’t use page builders. While page builders are fantastic tools for quickly spinning up a great-looking website, they can be a challenge for B2B marketers to update. They provide a lot of flexibility but that can also mean you have to make a lot of choices when you’re creating a new page. Maybe that’s exactly what you want, or maybe you want to have something a little more rigid.
It’s a good idea to talk through the possibilities with your B2B website development firm and make sure the site they’re building will meet your needs now and for ongoing updates.
Read more: Why consider WordPress for your B2B website?
Page Speed Optimization
Google is focusing more and more on page speed as a factor for search rankings. How does the development firm you’re evaluating address this? There is a lot that goes into page speed optimization—the job is really never done. This is where things can be tricky for marketers because it’s very technical. You may not understand words like minification or first contentful paint, but it’s helpful to at least have a list of what your development firm will deliver.
One thing I always tell marketers is to be aware that a 100 score on Google PageSpeed Insights isn’t necessarily achievable, particularly on mobile. Even if you can achieve a score that high, the work that goes into it may not be worth the incremental improvement.
Read more: Page speed tips from a developer.
Hosting is a critical element of any B2B website. While this is less common than it used to be, be cautious of any agency that hosts your website themselves. If you ever decide to work with a different agency, it could be difficult (and expensive) to get access to your website.
Does the agency have hosting recommendations? Be aware that a lot of hosting companies incentivize agencies to work with them. Both of the hosting companies that Bop recommends, Pantheon and WP Engine, have partner programs. Pantheon offers enhanced support, pricing discounts, and account reps to agencies who partner with them. WP Engine offers referral fees for agencies when their clients sign up for an account. At Bop, we prefer to remain as neutral as possible with our hosting referrals. While we do take advantage of the enhanced support Pantheon offers (and our clients get access to preferred pricing), we don’t accept referral fees from WP Engine. This ensures our clients get the best hosting provider to fit their needs.
Read more: Chilling B2B web hosting stories.