Mindful Business

The 8 Questions You Need to Ask Before Picking an Ecommerce Website Designer or Agency

By Fiona • 18 April 2022

Selecting a web designer agency can be daunting - your website is the cornerstone of your ecommerce business, after all. We’re here to help you figure out who to take the leap with and how to get the website you’ve always dreamed of. 

Designing and building a new website is an investment, both financially and emotionally. Finding the right website designer or agency and putting your faith in them to undertake this important job can be tricky. However, by asking the right questions during your vendor selection process, you are more likely to end up working with the right person for the job, determining both the end product and how much you enjoy the process.

Read on to learn the eight key questions you should ask your potential website designer or branding agency before you make the all important decision.

#1 Can you help us achieve the goals of the new website?

Before you start talking to website designers, you need to be clear on the goals of your new website. A short list of goals and priorities specific to your ecommerce business will go a long way to determine what your website must have to be successful. Early stage startups might be looking for a website which showcases their brand with the goal of attracting investors, while businesses ready to scale might be focusing on customer acquisition. Figure this out first and make sure you communicate your goals to the prospective website design candidates.

#2 Do you build websites which suit our ecommerce platform? 

Now onto the fundamentals. The design of an ecommerce site differs from a regular website. The ecommerce platform your website runs on is an important aspect to keep in mind when choosing a website design agency. Ideally, they specialise in ecommerce website builds and have a portfolio to prove their experience.If your ecommerce platform is a bespoke build, look for an agency with the right technical skills and tech stack to suit . If you use one of the big, well known ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, you can check if the agency is an accredited partner.

[Struggling to decide which ecommerce platform is right for you? Check out this platform comparison chart from Ecommerce-platforms.]

#3 What is your design process?

What will be the first step in the process, and who will be your key contact during the project? Will you be using a premade template or custom coding our website? What tools does the agency use to assist the process? It’s important to understand if you have a dedicated project manager, and how the agency will approach the design and build process. Ask the agency to guide you through the individual steps of the process. If it’s well designed, you can have confidence the project will be smooth sailing and timely.

#4 How many rounds of edits are included?

Related to the previous question, how many feedback rounds will be included in the process, and at what stage? It’s very important to determine this in advance, for both your sake and the designer’s. If the process is well mapped out, this will already have been considered by the agency.

#5 Can you cover SEO basics?

Your website might need some extra support from UX experts and SEO specialists to take it to the next level. Ideally these services can be provided by the agency, even if they cost a bit extra. SEO is an essential consideration when building a new ecommerce website, so if the agency you’re considering doesn’t mention it, consider this a red flag. At the very least, SEO basics (like site speed and security) should be covered in the build, but talk to the agency about what options you have in terms of SEO.

#6 Who owns the site and its contents once it’s live?

If this is a new website your agency is building, it’s important to clarify aspects such as who owns the site itself, the content and hosting once the website is live. Make sure that when the project is complete that all files and rights to the website are transferred to you and that you receive full access to all code, images and content of the website. In addition, the domain name and web hosting should be registered in your name.

#7 How do they define a successful web development project?

Some agencies focus on industry awards as a definition of success, while others will focus on analytics such as site visitors and conversions. Go into the selection process knowing what is important to you, and ask the agencies how they define success. Do they have case studies or data they can offer  to support their web development success stories? If you have two totally different definitions of success, the agency probably isn’t the right fit.

#8 Are our values aligned?

When it comes down to it, the best website agency for you is the one you feel good about. During the discovery phase, you’ll likely get a feel right away as to whether the designer is one you feel aligned with in terms of approach, and also who you’ll get along with during the process. If you’re an ecommerce business with a focus on sustainability, you might want to look out for other values-based criteria, such as whether they are a B-corp, they specialise in supporting purpose-driven businesses or can assist with low-carbon web hosting. Check out our favourite Conscious Shopify Plus Partners here.

If you ask your prospective website designer or agency the questions outlined above, you will be well on your way to finding the ideal partner for creating a fantastic new ecommerce website that will delight your customers and help you achieve your goals. Discover our vetted, curated ecommerce expert profiles on our directory. Or, join the community today to gain access to more educational content, exclusive events and peer support.