Questions to ask website designers

  Helenasks 10:50 24 Sep 03

Does anyone have a list of questions that I can ask the person who will be designing our website and hosting it. ie recording hits, how often update, best script to use etc etc .

  Taran 12:47 24 Sep 03

Any designer worth the name will talk you through a whole lot of possible options in plain English.

The moment they begin to confuse you or fail to make each facet of your project outline absolutely clear in understandable language, cross them off your list and find someone else.

You should find that any good design house/team will run an evaluation based on what you think your anticipated use of the site will be combined with how they believe they could deliver it in its most useful, successful and usable form.

Without knowing what you intend to do with the site (selling, information delivery, providing downloads, gathering information from users through forms, processing orders which is where dynamic databases will come into play and so on) no designer can really give any indication of cost, appropriate script/language choice and so on. Again, if your needs, requirements and expectations are not fully explored, find another designer.

In brief you need to know:

1. Final cost broken down on a feature by feature basis. What are you getting for your investment, what was the rationale given for suggesting the final solution(s) for your web, will the proposed web meet some or all of your own requirements...

2. Renewal dates - is your domain up for renewal or if it is a new registration, how long will your designer register it for you

3. Who owns the domain ? I can't believe that some design firms register client domain names themselves and hold ownership of them, but it does still go on so make very sure that your site will indeed be yours and not registered on your behalf and held for you.

4. How much are updates - this will vary for images, text, database content and so on.

5. Time to deliver and date to go live. This is important and should be made clear once talks become serious. You need to know when your site will be functional and your designer needs to know when you need it. A compromise between the two is normal.

Things to ask yourself include:

Do your need dedicated POP3 email accounts for your staff ? This means you @ yourdomain . co . uk

Do you plan to sell online and will this selling require a product catalogue and secure credit card payments or will transactions be processed using company account details with no recorded card details.

If you plan to process client details, are you already registered in terms of Data Protection ?

You should provide as much information as possible to your designer (printed media, catalogues, brochures, letterheads, business cards and images) about you, your business, its products and services, staff, premises, portfolio or client examples and so on. The less work the designer has to do, the less expensive your project will be and the quicker it will go live. Editing raw text, doing photography and image processing and so on can soon mount up and make a site total cost skyrocket.

There are other questions you could ask, but perhaps if you offered some details of what you and your company do and how the site would be used we could come up with a more suitable list since the above is very general.



  Taran 12:50 24 Sep 03

I should really have added that cost will be significantly higher if your site will link into your office customer data processing applications and there are some key factors that you should be aware of regarding databases and gathering information/processing orders from online sources to client applications running on your own computers.

post again with more information and one of us will help further.


  Helenasks 13:17 24 Sep 03

Hi Taran
At the moment we don't have customer data processing software. The business is a hotel and yes maybe in the future we will accept bokings online - what would be the issues regarding interfacing there?
Many thanks for the info you've given me so far, it's agreat help to someone who doesn't know a lot about this!

  Taran 13:55 24 Sep 03

Initially I'd say you need to aim for an easy to navigate site that has current images of your hotel; outside from the front and inside (main reception, bar/restaurant, two or more rooms of different standards, gardens if you have them, conservatory and so on) followed by details of special seasonal offers or mini-breaks, a tariff guide, cancellation/refund policy, things to see and do in your area (places of interest, tourist attractions and so on) and anything else that helps you define your hotel from any others in the area.

Stay away form anyone who says they will guarantee you top positioning in the search engines for whatever amount of money. They can only keep your high ranks until the next hotel in your town pays them for the same position and it can prove a big financial drain since the number site hits does not necessarily give you actual bookings.

Getting your site noticed and working for you is best done initially by including its domain name on every bit of literature that you have (letterheads, brochures, business cards, room restaurant and bar bills etc,) and on every advert you place. See if your local tourist information office will list your web and email addresses in their properties lists.

Essentially, you need not look at spending a vast fortune, it need not take a very long time to get you up and running and the cost of the site should be realised in full in a relatively short space of time. If the site ends up by not earning its keep, it is not worth your investment and probably means your designer did not do their job properly.

Post again with more information and I'll see if I can narrow things down to a hit list of specifics for you, but if you have no need to database integration at this point, a standard HTML based website with a series of images, some text block pages and a feedback/enquiry form is more or less what you need. Anything else would be unnecessary overkill at this point and keep in mind that any site can be added to.

  Taran 14:03 24 Sep 03

I recently did an enquiry form as part of a hotel website. It allows a site visitor to select the date (1-31) and month (Jan - Dec) of the first night of their intended stay, the number of nights they would like to stay along with fields for their name, email address and any queries they may have.

This is delivered as a plain text email as follows:








As you can see, reading such an email would be quite simple and all feedback from the site is delivered in the same format making it consistent. You can see at a glance the dates and number of nights required and any comments or questions that have been asked. It is also dead easy to arrange data import from this type of email into a database if and when you choose to begin using one.

Yours does not seem a complex project and your requirements are modest.

You need a clean, fast loading site with clear descriptive text and a series of supporting recent images to help you fill your hotel more often.

Don't go looking for database integration if you are managing happily with paper based record keeping at the moment.



  Helenasks 14:19 24 Sep 03

Taran - once again many thnaks I think you've answered the questions I have at the moment and certainly have given me a base to work from.
You're a star!

  harristweed 08:38 26 Sep 03

I recently designed a web site for a Hotel

click here

I charged 300 euros (about 200 pounds)

Note - I dont like the facilites page but this how the client wanted it!

  Forum Editor 10:57 26 Sep 03

the best result for a client is to involve him/her/them at every stage of development. Whenh designing for clients I run a private section on the server, and upload changes as they're made, so my client can actually watch the site evolve. A dialogue is essential, and any designer who takes the "leave it to the experts" line is best avoided.

Talk to your designer, and ask questions - the right one won't mind at all.

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