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ARCHIVED  August 27, 1999

How to choose a Web-development firm

The Front Range has played host to a diverse field of Web designers since the World Wide Web’s invention, and choosing one provider over another (or worse, one from many others) can indeed be a daunting task.

The first step is to know what you want. What do you hope to accomplish? By when? Do you have a Web site that needs improved functionality, or are you moving your business onto the Internet for the first time? Do you have inhouse knowledge of the Internet — staff members who can maintain a system for the long run — or will you need ongoing support from the provider? How much are you willing to spend to get this thing off the ground?
Consider all of these things, decide what you want, what your budget is and then write everything down into a concise outline and submit it to at least three prospective providers. By handing each company an identical description of your project, you can be sure that incoming bids will be for the same set of services.
Find a provider either by talking to other professionals in your industry who have gone online or by calling around and finding a company that will take on a project of your size. Many Web-development firms will help a small business get online for less than a thousand dollars, while others will take on only larger projects closer to the $10,000-and-higher range.
Once you have found a company that offers the services you require, ask them for the names of a few of their competitors to call for alternative bids.
Here are some warning signs that you might be working with the wrong Web-development provider:n They are unwilling to help you find competitors that can provide alternative quotes for your project.
n They appear to be too busy to take care of you. They take days to return your phone calls and seem rushed when they finally do. You should allow at least five business days for a company to turn around a quote on a project but not nearly so long to turn around a phone call.
n They don’t ask questions. Questions a company has about your project should give you confidence in their long-term vision and breadth of experience.
n Web sites the company has designed for other clients are poorly designed. A growing number of printing specialists offer design services for the Web, however, some create sites that are visually pleasing but too graphics-intensive to run efficiently.
In the end, it all comes down to what you want. You can be sure that somewhere there’s a company that will handle your online vision the way you want it handled — either as a comprehensive, ongoing project developed over weeks, months or years, or as a working, inexpensive presence on the Internet built overnight.

The Front Range has played host to a diverse field of Web designers since the World Wide Web’s invention, and choosing one provider over another (or worse, one from many others) can indeed be a daunting task.

The first step is to know what you want. What do you hope to accomplish? By when? Do you have a Web site that needs improved functionality, or are you moving your business onto the Internet for the first time? Do you have inhouse knowledge of the Internet — staff members who can maintain a system for the long run — or will you…

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