5 things to consider when choosing your website vendor
Let’s face it - There is an abundance of web design and development vendors to choose from. Knowing which vendor will adequately meet your business needs and motivations are overwhelming and many. Your online presence is a crucial engagement point of your organization and deciding who will help you build it is an important decision. Below are a few helpful things to consider to help find a website vendor that is a good fit for your organization.
1. Mission, Vision, Purpose
Does your vendor have their own goals on the impact they hope to make on the world? Or are they just trying to take whatever work comes their way? It matters that your vendor has a clear mission and vision beyond just making pretty websites for whoever.
Here at Parallel Public Works, it is our mission to help governments, non-profits, and public facing entities use technology to help build trust and transparency between them and the communities they serve. With this mission, we have been able to work with clients that share that same desire such as Puget Sound Regional Council, Washington State Department of Early Learning, Northwest Biosolids, and more.
2. Communication Plan
With any good vendor, communication is key. Your vendor should have a clear plan for how tasks will be communicated, where you can find assigned tasks and due dates, track the overall project timeline, and provide questions and feedback in a clear and efficient manner.
Parallel Public Works utilizes online tools such as Trello and Google Drive so clients are able to easily see where their project and associated tasks are at all times and can easily collaborate on designs and content for the project. We also check in with clients weekly, during a brief 15 minute meeting called a “Stand Up”. During these meetings we check in on tasks, identify any barriers and talk through solutions.
While we know web design and development, you are the expert of your organization. We will provide guidance, insight on best practices, and recommendations based on input from your project team, interviews with your internal and external stakeholders, analytics data, and most importantly your mission and vision. A vendor who listens carefully will produce a better product than one who steam rolls over your ideas and concerns.
4. Sustainable Solutions
Gone are the days of a static website. As technology and the needs of your organization and audience change, your website solution should be able to flex and be refined to meet them without having to spend the time, money, and precious recourse on a complete overhaul. Your staff should be provided the knowledge and training to maintain the site on a daily basis and the way your website was built should have the ease and flexibility to add new features over time. You website should be “alive” in this sense and your vendor should approach solutions with this in mind.
5. Relevant References
Has your vendor worked with organizations similar to yours? Each industry has unique needs and challenges and if your vendor has experience building websites with similar organizations in similar industries, they will have a level of tried and tested experience that will help guide your web design and development efforts. They will know who to talk with and how, what questions to ask and when to ask them, and will be able to more readily anticipate your needs or the potential challenges of your end users.
Keeping these considerations in mind, know that you are choosing more than a vendor but a collaborative partner that will help you craft and maintain your online presence.