July 24, 2015

Drupal GovCon 2015 logoSelecting a web development vendor is not the easiest task. There are so many out there; large and small, discount to premium ticket. Unfortunately, neither metric is an indicator of the quality of the results, or the customer service you will receive.

If you are tasked with hiring a web vendor to handle your new website build or redesign project, you may find yourself at a loss for how to proceed. This is common; from our experience most of our prospects and clients have limited or no experience is managing a selection process.

If you are in the midst of a selection process, take a few moments to review three red flags that might signal you’ve selected the wrong vendor for your project.

No Questions

No two websites are exactly alike. To create a new website that meets your organizations unique needs requires in-depth collaboration between the vendor and the client.

Even if you have provided a requirements document, it is unlikely that it will be sufficient for a vendor to fully understand your needs and requirements. If a vendor has not asked questions about your particular needs, it is extremely unlikely that they fully understand your needs and their plan likely overlooks important aspects of your website project.

No Process

When shopping for software or hosted solution, you can demo and test functionality to determine the best ROI. When it comes to custom design and development, you have to take their word that they will deliver. Without a documented, repeatable process, even their successful past projects may be anomalies.

A firm with a documented, repeatable process should be able to deliver successful results consistently. If they can’t or won’t share their process, be leery.

Spec Work

In order to create a relevant project specification or user interface design, a vendor must collaborate with their client. Some firms, in the hopes of impressing potential clients, will complete work on “Spec” (i.e. unpaid specification or design work). While this may initially seem like a good idea, reputable firms do not undertake Spec work.

Spec work costs time and money to produce; you can be sure that firms that create Spec work pass along the cost of the work in the form of higher hourly rates, or padded project estimates. Further, they need to cover the cost of spec work produced for every project they didn’t win; if you hire such a firm, you will be paying for that as well.

Is it worth it? Spec work is nearly always a waste of time and money. Without extensive input and collaboration between you at the agency, there is little chance what is produced will be useful, and need to be redone. Why pay for the same work twice?

How do you select the right vendor?

Still seeking a firm? Take a few minutes to review the slides from our Drupal GovCon 2015 session at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Website Redesign In Drupal: Are You Planning To Succeed Or Succeeding To Fail. It All Starts With Your RFP. We will share tips and tricks “from the trenches” related to website redesign planning and managing a successful Request for Proposal (RFP) process.