As you’re choosing a partner for an upcoming website project, the right questions can make the difference between a rocky experience or strong partnership.
Can you trust their experience and customer service? Will their approach fit your needs and budget? Will you have the support you need before and after launch?
You likely have a million questions running through your head. But starting with these 11 basic questions can help you narrow down your options and select the right partner.
Relationship and Experience
Choosing a website partner involves more than technical expertise. It’s also about the relationship between your teams and how you work together.
A strong relationship means your website partner understands your mission, how the new site will support your cause and the role it plays in sharing your organization’s unique story.
True partnership develops over time through communication, trust and shared values. But you can set yourself up for success by considering these questions early on:
Do you like the people you’ve been talking to so far?
Building a new website can be stressful enough. Do you really want to rely on people you don’t enjoy interacting with along the way?
Initial conversations say a lot about a company’s communication style. Have they been responsive? Do their responses feel both professional and thoughtful? Do your questions get answered clearly and thoroughly?
These elements of communication can make the difference between transactional exchanges or long-term partnership and collaboration.
Do you like the look of their work?
Your website is a reflection of your organization’s identity and mission.
So when you’re envisioning your new site, consider how it will represent your nonprofit’s brand.
Are you aiming for a design that’s sleek and modern? Playful and light? Buttoned-up and professional? No matter what, your site should feel like you.
The ideal website partner will understand the importance of creating a site that’s tailored to your nonprofit. This involves more than incorporating your logo or brand colors; it means designing a user experience that resonates with your audience and facilitates engagement. This visual alignment transforms your website into a true extension of your organization, its values and goals.
Review their portfolio and look for examples that resonate with your vision and aesthetic preferences. A diverse portfolio that showcases a range of customizable styles can be a strong indicator of their versatility, design capabilities and understanding of different organizational needs.
Are there reviews or references from clients?
A website partner with experience working with organizations similar to yours can be invaluable. They understand common challenges and opportunities specific to your sector, which can greatly improve the effectiveness of your website and make for a smoother working relationship overall.
Review testimonials, case studies and ask for references! Positive reviews from other nonprofits in your space can paint a much clearer picture of what it’s like to work together. Ideally, you’ll uncover ways they’ve demonstrated shared values with clients across multiple projects.
Project Management and Cost Considerations
During a new website build, launching on time and within budget can feel like an impossible goal. The right website partner should offer you guidance when it comes to managing your project quality, timeline and costs.
Considering these questions can help avoid unforeseen expenses and delays:
How long will it take to build your website?
The timeline for website development varies, especially between DIY, templated and custom-built options. In working with your partner to set realistic expectations, it’s crucial to consider the scope of your team’s involvement and your capacity to contribute.
You’ll also want to think about key dates that may impact your timeline, such as major events or end-of-year giving campaigns. These are opportunities to leverage your new website effectively. Share these dates with your website partner to ensure they’re factored into the project timeline.
With that info, your website partner should be able to help you balance speed with quality, taking into account your specific needs and ensuring you build an effective website that aligns with your strategic goals.
Will you have a dedicated point person as you build out your website?
In addition to capacity, complexity is one of the biggest factors when it comes to moving your website project forward. If you’ll be the one responsible for the new site, consider how much guidance and support you might need given how involved your website will be.
If you only need a few key pages and the ability to accept donations, you may be able to take it on solo. If you have event registration, volunteer signups or several third-party tools to integrate, having a project manager on your side could be integral to successfully building and launching your site.
Could the overall cost of your website increase over time as your site grows and changes?
Budgeting for a new website can be daunting. Especially when potential partners have different pricing models and your needs may change as you grow over time. Nobody wants to end up in a pinch with a website that carries higher ongoing costs than expected.
First, make sure you understand what’s included in any upfront fees. Do you have everything you need now to meet current and future goals? If not, does your partner offer the flexibility to add features or integrate with new tools down the road? As your nonprofit grows and you expand your content, will there be added costs?
Consider extra fees tied to storage amount, the number of pages, forms, and how many site administrators or users you’ll need.
Ease of Use and Support
Two of the most common points of frustration when it comes to building a great new nonprofit website are that it takes too long or that it’s a pain to use. The right partner will understand the need for a user-friendly website that can be easily managed and updated, so make sure you’re clear about these key questions:
Can you make changes to the site yourself or will you need to call a developer?
If you don’t have complex needs that require a custom website, then you should be able to easily edit your site yourself — without needing to know how to write code or call a developer every time you want to make a change.
With the right partner, you’ll be set up with all the tools you need to get your new site out into the world as fast as possible without sacrificing on quality. Being able to make ongoing changes yourself will also ensure your content remains accurate and relevant for your visitors.
What types of resources do they offer to make sure you’re successful?
Even if you’re savvy with technology, you’ll likely have questions as you work on your site. So be sure to ask about resources you can refer to during the build-out process and after launch.
Is support documentation available for common questions? Is there a phone number or email to use if you’re stuck? What are average response times? When it comes to other elements of your online efforts and marketing, is there a newsletter or blog with guidance for continued success?
A partner offering ongoing support and maintenance indicates a commitment to long-term collaboration. Their focus on evolving digital trends is essential for scalable and future-proof website designs, and broader marketing resources will help you reach a larger audience.
This approach is especially beneficial for growing organizations.
Will the website integrate with your third-party tools?
Create a list of all of the third-party tools essential to your website and confirm a potential new partner can accommodate them. Think of your payment processor, email tools, donor management systems and CRMs. Even if they aren’t listed on a partner website, ask what they can do!
It’s also helpful to know what type of integration can be supported. Native integration directly on your site, embedding and linking out to third party pages are all different ways to incorporate your must-have tools.
Will the website display correctly in different web browsers and across different devices?
Responsive website design has become increasingly important for organizations, so be sure to confirm that your new site is built to be responsive. Not only will it provide your visitors with the best experience possible, but it could lead to more donations, volunteers and general support for your nonprofit.
Will the site be easy to use for visitors with disabilities and those using assistive devices like screen readers?
Content that enables anyone, regardless of their abilities, to take in the information on your site is called accessible content. If you’re aiming to have a website that is truly inclusive, this is a question you need to be asking. A good partner should be aware of website accessibility standards and able to explain how your site will measure up.
Choosing the right website partner is a major decision that can impact the success of your nonprofit organization. These questions should help you identify a partner who possesses the technical skills, aligns with your values, understands your unique needs and is committed to your long-term success.
Remember, the goal is not just to launch a functional website, but one that effectively communicates your story, engages your audience and supports your initiatives.
What questions are you glad you asked your website partner? Any points you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments!