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Choosing the Best Web Firm for Your Project: Considering Expertise

By Rich Campbell

For most associations and non-profits, your website is an essential tool for managing, connecting, and communicating with your members, and it is often the first point of contact for those first discovering your organization. Crucial to establishing a positive first impression and maintaining ongoing relationships, your website must provide a user-friendly, engaging platform for readers to communicate and learn. If you are looking to design a new website or update your existing one, be sure to include targeted questions in your request for proposal (RFP) that will connect you with the best fit for your organization. One of the first and most crucial factors to consider for project success is a potential agency’s proven industry expertise. 

While it may be tempting to choose a web firm that offers the lowest price or the most eye-catching designs, it is essential to collaborate with a company that can provide required functionality and integrations as well. Be sure to ask the right questions in order to evaluate a company’s experience in your industry and its expertise with the tools required to accomplish your goals. Many firms may be fully capable of completing simple projects with limited functionality and less complex integrations, but a deeper understanding and greater skill is often required to achieve the required core functionality of a robust association website. 

The first question to determine is what functionalities your website will need and what content management system (CMS) can support it. Whether using your existing platform or upgrading to a new one, include questions in your RFP to determine a firm’s level of expertise with your CMS of choice. Be sure to ask how many websites a company has developed on this platform and make sure they have worked with the current CMS version. You will want a company that can leverage best practices to maximize the benefits of your CMS, while integrating seamlessly with critical third-party tools, such as your association management system. The deeper experience and in-depth knowledge a firm has with your CMS, the easier development and integrations with third-party systems will be. You may also want to ask about any platform partnerships, as an agency’s status as a CMS partner can indicate a higher experience level.

A firm familiar with the association space will also have greater insight into your industry’s unique challenges. Its experts will know what does and does not work when designing a website with core functionality for your organization and streamlined, user-friendly interaction for your members. While experience in the association and non-profit market is a great starting point for your project, you will also want to work with a firm that understands every association’s needs and priorities are different and what worked for another business may not be the best fit for you. The right web firm will take the time and effort to learn more about your unique business goals and pinpoint your specific target audience. With a deeper understanding of your website’s requirements and ideal visitor, a web firm can develop, design and integrate a site that will meet all of your custom authoring, collaboration, and administration needs.   

The right web firm should not only offer you with an affordable solution and aesthetic design, but also greater functionality and scalability to achieve your association’s goal and sustain future growth. To read more helpful guidelines for finding the right web firm, download our free tip sheet “Beyond RFP Technical Requirements: How to Choose the Best Web Firm for Your Project.” 

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