The very first question should be: what do you want your website to do? What should you be using the web in general for? The problem with not having these questions solved first is that you’ll find yourself with a default answer provided by web vendors: you’ll want a pretty site, will say the designer; you’ll want a cool platform, will say the developer; you’ll want to be popular on social media, will say the twitter user; you’ll want the magic of SEO will say the SEO expert… But none of these are directly related to your business goals. How can you tell? Because your website will be empty of content, won’t address anyone and thus won’t be found by anyone, or it will have generic content of little value for your customers, which may even hinder your long term relationship with them.
A second related question is that not all web functions can be outsourced. If you think of your web presence as a tool to help in the delivery of your brand’s promise, this is something that can only be accomplished inside your company, as no one outside will know your customers better.
So who should you hire first? Whoever knows your customer best, whoever has a stake in sales to customers and your customer’s experience… In other words, probably you or some of your colleagues… Who already work with you. Once you’ve established what the web can do for you, you can then ask specific tasks of web specialists, and they’ll thank you for being more specific.