These days when it comes to website designers, or even those who specialize in healthcare, there are so many firms to choose from. As a physician, department head or healthcare administrator, how do you know what to look for or, better still, what to ask.
In our ongoing effort towards transparency, we put together some useful tips.
- The answer is not always found in the bottom line. I know it’s hard to say but look beyond cost. Be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples and ask questions. What one firm considers as part of development, others will not. The devil is in the details and these projects are wrought with many of them! Be sure to inquire if there is:
- content provided as part of the project
- the ability to make site updates yourself
- ongoing maintenance charges and what the charges are for
- training and support included or available
- supporting documentation provided such as a site map to detail site architecture, content checklist, and go live materials
- source files provided once the site is live
- Be sure to look under the hood. All sites today should be using CSS to control layout and stylization (also known as tableless layout), and tested to work in many of the latest browsers including Internet Explorer (IE) v6.0, v7.0, v8.0, Firefox, Opera and Safari. Supporting IE 6.0 is important within the healthcare industry as many hospital based applications require older versions of IE. If you on a hospital network, chances are you’re apt to be using IE 6.
- Content is king. At Practis, you’ll hear us make this claim over and over. Designing and developing a website is the easy part. Writing content is the challenge. Ask for specifics – what content will be provided by the company and what will you be expected to provide. Someone who has worked in the industry is going to better know and understand what content and functional requirements you’ll need. They may also have licensed materials to make your life easier and project come to closure sooner.
- Who is running the show. Project management is an overlooked, but extremely important, aspect of a successful project. For your website, are there dedicated resources, i.e., a project manager, allocated to oversee your project, provide guidance, check on questionable details and ensure timely completion of tasks. If there isn’t a project manager, chances are you, the client, will take on more of this role.
- It’s not a one person, one skill set type of job. Developing a solid website that stands the test of time requires a diverse skill set. It’s difficult to find someone who is the best at architecture, graphic and interactive design, coding, application development, search engine optimization and project management- all at the same time. Be sure to know the limitations of those you select to work with.
- Do they have a track record. Over and above knowing how long someone has been in business, do a little digging and get more facts. Has this firm produced award-winning sites, what do their customers say about them, do they offer resources for collecting feedback from their clients as well as ongoing support? Chances are you’ll be with this firm for a long time. Make sure you do your due diligence.
- Proud to be American made. If you find comfort in knowing that you can pick up a phone and speak to someone state-side whether it be about your project under development or, in the future, site enhancements, then you should avoid companies who only offer web or email only based support. Be sure to ask who is working on your site as it’s a plus if you can pick up the phone and contact them directly.