When getting a quote for your next website, there are a few critical items that you should see in every web design/development proposal that you get back. Obviously these may not apply to all proposals but a good general guide for anything website design/development related.

  • How long has the company been around? With any industry, there are several companies/freelancers that are flying by the seat of their pants. You will generally get these website for a little cheaper, but you usually pay the price elsewhere (communication, delays, expertise, etc…). It’s important that you see that the company has built other website similar to yours either in industry or in size.
  • How does the company handle changes in scope? There should be a clear concise way of handling changes in scope, because the reality is that scope changes on almost every project. You want to see something like a change order, or a document that outlines the scope change process. Usually changes in scope have a cost, and that cost should have a signature attached to it so the client is always in the know.
  • What is the Cost? This is obvious. Have an exact price of what your project is going to cost. Determine which fees are optional and which ones are required.
  • What is the payment schedule? Know exactly when payments are due and for how much. Typical payment schedules depend on the size of the proposal, but are usually 50/50 or 35/35/30. Please don’t ever pay 100% of your proposal up front. It’s also very normal for companies to not start work until a deposit is made.
  • Is the company that you are using insured? Things happen that are out of everyone’s control. Everybody makes mistakes, and you need to know that if a mistake is made either by the company doing your website or someone internal to your business that you are covered. You should look for proof of an insurance policy that covers errors and omissions for at least $500,000. This protects the company you are doing business with and your company. The insured amount changes if the project is larger or there is a significant potential for loss of revenue (eCommerce).
  • Does the company have references? The company should either provide testimonials, references or the ability to check references. It’s always nice to see what others have to say about the company you are about to use.
  • Are the legal terms sufficient? The legal terms should spell out exactly what happens in the event there is litigation. The legal terms should also clarify if deposits are refundable, and who owns the intellectual property once the project is paid for in full. Once you pay in full, you should ALWAYS own all intellectual property. It’s unacceptable for anyone not to hand over assets once the contract is paid in full.
  • What are you actually getting? It needs to be very clear what will be delivered for each line item on the proposal. Single line items with simply just a name and a cost aren’t good. For example, if you are paying for design, does that come with 1 mockup or two? Also, are revisions included in this price or billed extra?

Overall, we believe these items are the key pieces that need to be in a well written website design proposal.







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