Every business knows that in order to succeed in the current market, your website has to stand out from the crowd and give customers the best experience possible. But every great website needs to built first – and who builds it? A web design agency, of course. But with so many around how do you know you’re picking the right one?
Over the last few years, social media and mobile platforms have taken the market by storm, forming an integral part of online marketing. So if you are to succeed, then harnessing the support of a reputable web design agency is a must.
Not only can they take complete control of website management, social media campaigns and web development; they can also ensure your website ranks highly on Google and other search engines for all the right reasons.
Yet how do you choose which agency to pick? How can you ensure that you are choosing a web design agency that is the right fit for you and who will successfully deliver your message to potential clients?
We’ve found the following tips invaluable when identifying and choosing the best web design agency for your business.
TO HELP YOU SECURE THE BEST DEALS
Tip One: What does their track record look like?
As with all businesses, no two web design agencies are the same, so before you pick one it is important that you take the time to review their existing portfolio and decide if you like what they do. For instance, if their own website doesn’t look too great or isn’t to your tastes, then how can you expect them to deliver a website that you would happy with? You can’t! You need to have faith in their ability to design, develop and maintain your website.
For this reason, we strongly recommend researching their recent client portfolio, which should contain at least 10 examples of other websites or projects they have worked on. You could also ask them to send over samples of their work, especially if they have not dealt with your specific industry niche before.
If you don’t like what you see, you can safely assume that they are not the right fit for you.
Similarly, take a look at their customer reviews and see how they are rated for their service and results. A company that values both results and relationships, means you can feel more comfortable discussing your thoughts and feedback throughout the project.
We suggest asking for at least 3 references if they are not available on their site.
Tip Two: What is their process?
Communication is incredibly important when it comes to choosing a website designer and developer, particularly if you’re creating a site from scratch. Without clear channels of communication, you may lose confidence in their ability to translate your goals into a credible website solution.
Great web design companies will take into account your competitors, goals and target customer base before offering you advice on how best to articulate your message. They won’t confuse you with technical jargon, but will go out of their way to explain their discovery process, discuss their objectives and most importantly, will be open about how their designs, content and web development can give your business a competitive edge.
If every word out of their mouth is vague, evasive or doesn’t clearly answer your question, then you have to wonder about their abilities.
Tip Three: How do they measure success?
This question is also an important one you should ask yourself. Before you make the decision to hire a web design company, you need to know exactly what you want from your website. Are you looking to increase online traffic? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to transform visitors into conversions?
You need to ask yourself these questions then pose them to potential agencies. If their focus is to solely create a pretty website and they don’t mention anything about bounce rates, traffic or sales conversions, then they are probably not the right fit.
Tip Four: Learn the lingo
The easiest way to ensure that you are choosing a web developer who knows what they are talking about, is taking the time to learn the language. This helps to eliminate any risk of miscommunication or false selling of services, and ensures that you are fully aware of everything that is happening to your website.
NOTE: All too often businesses are misled into hiring web designers who ‘fluff’ up their knowledge and throw out technical terms to make themselves sound more experienced. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Unless the designer can explain what they mean in layman’s terms and then demonstrate how it is achieved, don’t take their word for it.
Similarly, make sure you fully understand the roles and expectations of web designers, web developers and web design agencies. Their roles are vastly different and you don’t want to mistakenly hire the wrong one for the wrong job:
- Web design agency – Hires the designer and developer, responsible for over-arching project management and ideas sourcing.
- Web designer – Responsible for the customer facing appearance of your website.
- Web developer – Builds and maintains your site, ensuring everything works as it should.
Tip Five: What are their core competencies?
In today’s competitive market, you need a web design agency whose team is comprised of more than just design and development experts. Many of the best web design companies in the market also specialise in inbound digital marketing, search engine optimisation and copywriting amongst a whole host of other specialities.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to use all of their services, nor does it give the agency permission to pressure you into using them for everything. However, any reputable web design company will first take the time to understand what your business is trying to achieve, before utilising their knowledge and expertise to create a content and website strategy within your budget.
Tip Six: Do they follow best industry practices?
If you are having a site built from scratch, you need to be clear on whether or not you are purchasing a bespoke Content Management System (CMS) that has been developed in-house specifically for your website. Whilst a custom CMS does offer a number of benefits, these are mostly outweighed by the fact that a bespoke CMS effectively tethers you to one agency for life. This could cause complications should you wish to use a different agency in the future i.e. they take your site down or hold the hosting to ransom.
Instead, make it clear from the start that you want to use common Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Modx or Drupal. These are used by thousands of website and offer you the freedom to grow and develop your website, but also part ways on your terms if needs be.
Tip Seven: How do they manage their workload?
When revamping and improving your website, it is important to explore your chosen agency’s project management skills. You should clarify whether they are equipped to match your timelines and expectations, and how they have coped when working to deadlines in the past. Likewise, you should be clear on what constitutes a measureable result and how these will be delivered. It is also a wise move to meet the designers and developers who will be working on your website, as well as the account manage who will most likely be your main source of contact.
These are all important aspects that need to be clarified in order to have a full understanding of the project process and deadlines. Will the agency take charge and be proactive with your project, or will they let you set the deadlines for their work? Ideally it should be a combined effort when agreeing finish dates – bearing in mind that you are hiring the agency as experts, it could be cause for concern if they let you dictate every aspect of how they work.
Tip Eight: How big are they?
In this instance – as with many things in life – size does matter.
If you choose too large a web design company to manage your site, then you risk becoming a nameless face that is passed on from desk to desk – or even from office to office – with no real relationships or support. However, opt for a team of freelancers and you run the risk of being one amongst a plethora of other priorities, with daytime jobs or other bookings interfering with your project.
We suggest aiming for a mid-sized firm that is large enough to handle all aspects of your design work, but small enough to care about you and your business.
Tip Nine: Do they understand your business?
With most people turning to the internet for their shopping and business needs, it is important that your website can speak for you. And in order to do that, your chosen web design company needs to have a thorough understanding of your brand and the message you are trying to deliver. You don’t need to grill the agency or test them, but by having honest, frank conversations you can gather their level of understanding of your business and its aims.
This can help strengthen relationships and get everyone onto the same page, adding passion and focus to the mix of essential qualities in a good web design agency.
Tip Ten: Compare companies
Don’t be afraid to approach more than one company. As we’ve mentioned before, no two web designers, developers or web agencies are the same, so before you pick it is wise to gain a thorough understanding of their costs, aims and plans for your website.
Take a moment to delve into their background and you will gain a more realistic appreciation of their services and the benefits they can offer.
Whether you have an existing website that needs a makeover and relaunch, or you simply wish to build a website from scratch, investing in a quality web design company is essential.
With their support you can successfully ensure that you have a solid presence on the internet.
So before you hire, make sure to incorporate these top tips into your research and try to fully understand the roles played by web designers, developers and agencies. By following our advice, you can make sure you’re not paying over the odds and are maximising your return on investment – today and into the future.