1. Experience Find out if the firm or individual has experience producing sites similar to the one you are trying to create. Consider how long the firm has been in business and other services they provide. A more experienced firm will be more likely to deliver professional results.
2. References Portfolios are important, but make sure they have references related to those featured sites. Contact the references and ask questions.
3. Pricing There are many different ways to calculate pricing for web development work. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what is going to be provided, when it will be provided, and how much it will cost. Get it in writing.
4. Capability Make sure the firm you are dealing with is an actual development shop – not just an IT or a marketing company claiming to do development work too.
5. Process An experienced web developement firm should be able to explain the process they follow to complete your project. Additionally you should understand the process for ongoing updates.
6. Technology Ask about which technologies the firm uses. Understand if the proposed project requires any special or proprietary technologies, which may limit who can service the site in the future.
7. Ownership You will need access to the website - or at the very least, you need a backup copy of the completed site. In the future, you may want to own the site yourself or have the freedom to work with another firm.
8. Reliability You want a develoopment firm with the ability to host your site for you. Navigating between a the development firm and a separate hosting service can leave you stuck in the middle. A firm who can do both will make life a lot easier.
9. Accessibility Accessibility is key to keeping your project running smoothly. Call prospective firms at an unexpected time. Leave a message and see how quickly they respond to you. If they can't follow up with you now, the service in the future is unlikely to be up to par.
10. Location The best place for work to be done is in a local office. Nothing beats face-to face meetings and review. If you are not sure where the work is being completed, you may be dealing a firm who outsources their work, sends the work to foreign countries or is a not a developer at all.