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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

How to choose the right web design agency for your business

If you've decided to pay to have a website built for your business, it's important to choose an agency that will listen to your needs, involve you in the planning and then produce a website that exceeds your expectations and attracts new customers. You'll be entrusting them with your brand, so you must choose a professional and well-established team.

It can be quite overwhelming selecting which agency to use, because there are so many to choose from. However, here are six key questions you need to ask prospective suppliers.

1 How much will it cost?

A good agency will discuss your exact requirements before sending you a written proposal with a quote for the work and an outline of what's included. Ideally the proposal will be sent with terms and conditions.

You should fully understand what is and isn't included before you make any payments or agreements. Check the following:

  • Which platform will the web agency use or will it be a bespoke design?
  • How many pages will your website have?
  • Will the site be mobile responsive (ie will it still function well and look good on mobile devices)?
  • Does the quote include all the functions that you specifically require?
  • Will the agency provide content management system training to ensure that you can access the backend of your site and manage your website yourself after the launch? What are their costs for additional training? What are their costs for ongoing web maintenance or support?
  • What is the process if you want to make any changes to the brief before your site is launched? What are the charges if you want to make any changes after the launch?
  • Will they ensure that your site is fully search engine optimised?
  • Does the proposal include the registration of a domain name and web hosting? If not, what are the additional fees for this?

2 What about content and images?

It's likely that you'll be required to supply all content and images for your website, however a professional agency will be able to help with content or buying stock images if required. You should talk to them about this during the initial discussions to ensure that they include it in the proposal.

3 Have you got a portfolio?

A well-established agency should have an impressive website that includes a portfolio of their projects. Check out other websites they've created to get a better idea about the quality of their work.

4 Do you have testimonials?

Most creative agencies will have testimonials on their website and they may even feature on review sites. Read these. You could even ask if it's possible to speak to a previous client to ask about their experiences.

5 How long will it take to create my new website?

You need to ask how long it will take for the design and build process, because you must ensure this is in line with your needs. Any time frames given will depend largely on your cooperation with regards to discussing design and functionality, as well as your supplying photos and content when required. The web designer may need to contact you during the development stage, so it's essential that you provide feedback promptly to avoid delays with launch.

6 What are my first impressions?

You should trust your instincts and think about your first impressions of the agency. Bear in mind that you may be working with them for many weeks during the website design and build process, and possibly many months and years afterwards if they assist you with ongoing web maintenance and development. So, you'll need to have a good working relationship with them. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:

  • What do you think about their website? Does it communicate the right messages?
  • Did they respond professionally and promptly to your initial enquiry?
  • What were your first impressions when you spoke to them?
  • Have they listened to your requirements? Do they understand what you want?
  • Have you established a good rapport with them?
  • Will you be able to work with them over a period of time?

Copyright © 2015 Allie Astell, managing director of Manage My Website. Follow Manage My Website on Twitter and Facebook.

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