With 72% of Millennials researching and making purchases online, rather than in traditional retail locations such as shopping malls, not having a beautiful and functional website simply isn’t an option. A website is a robust and practical way to establish your company’s presence in your industry, but it is also an essential in today’s multi-billion dollar online shopping economy. Choosing the right web designers and developers for your project is the best way to ensure the continued success of your website and, consequently, your company. With so many options, though, it can be tricky to choose the right web design company, so we’ve created our Top 5 Tips for How to Find the Right Web Design Company.
#1: Determine the Needs of Your Project
When you have a web design project that requires design and development work, the first step— even before you even begin your search for a web design company— is to figure out the details of your project. Answer the following questions so you’ll have the information you need to get the ball rolling once you do find a web design company that piques your interest.
- What is the purpose of your website? Is it an online store in need of e-commerce development? Is it a blog in need of a redesign?
- How will your website function? What do you need your site to do?
- How do you need your visitors to move through your site?
- What are your target “call to action” commands?
- Which 3 websites do you like and why? What elements of those sites would like your site to emulate?
- Which 3 sites do you dislike and why?
- What are your goals for your new website? Are you looking to increase sales? Is the site going to provide a service? Are you building your brand or engage with your consumer base?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your budget?
#2: Decide Between a Freelancer or a Company/Agency
You’ve come to the point in your business plan where you need web design services, but you aren’t sure exactly what your needs are. Many freelancers are just as skilled and experienced as the designers that work for companies, but are often significantly less expensive. This may seem like a major plus, but in reality, it’s rare to encounter a freelancer with expertise in the wide range of services most companies offer, so you may be sacrificing the quality of some of the work; if the freelancer has to work with others to complete your project, the additional people and work to coordinate may make it harder to meet your deadline(s).
Working with an agency means you have a greater variety of services offered. With an agency, you get a team of designers, developers and programmers, artists, writers and more devoting their skills and expertise to your project. An agency will assign a point of contact for your project, but in the event that they aren’t available, you have other people who can offer support or guidance. While there are web design companies that specialize in more narrow ranges of services, such as either design or development, it is possible (and advisable) to find a company that can handle both.
#3: Choose Your Top 3 Web Design Companies
If a freelancer is sufficient for your project, you can find, contact, and negotiate with designers online. If you decide that your project might be too much for a freelancer or you want the larger assortment of services a web design agency offers, you can make contact with a design company.
These days, every web design company has a portfolio of their work on the web; pay attention to the aesthetics of their work. Ask yourself if the look, feel and functionality of any of their creations would work for your project. If they have a specialty— mobile app development or niche websites for specific industries, for example— make sure it would be a good fit for your project.
Pay attention to details like the size and scope of the projects they’ve done in the past. If you don’t like the websites they’ve done for other clients, it stands to reason you won’t like their designs for your project either. Narrow your list down to 3 companies to contact for more information.
#4: Contact Your Top 3 Web Design Agencies
Once you’ve pored over websites and portfolios and carefully selected your top 3 web design companies, the next step is to contact those contenders and begin the process of securing web design and development services. You can explain the details of your project, as defined in Step 1, and get more information that will give you an idea of what it would be like to work with each company. Take note of their customer service and sales presentations, in addition to how collaborative they are during this exploratory phase.
Some handy questions to ask during your initial contact:
- Will you be my point of contact for the project?
- What is the turnaround time for the project?
- When can you start on my project?
- What do you need from me to begin?
- Do you provide or offer support services/training?
- Does the price include responsive/mobile-friendly design?
- Who owns the website once it’s paid for?
#5: Compare Proposals from Your Top 3 Web Design Firms
Once you’ve been in contact with the companies you selected, the finalists will create proposals based on the information you’ve given them; this is part of their sales process and gives you a good opportunity to observe firsthand how effective they are at communicating and implementing the feedback you give them to meet your needs.
During the stage, you can also ask additional questions to determine whether the company will be a good fit for your project beyond the design and development work itself. At this point, it is important to get information such as:
- Will my website be created from a template or designed from scratch?
- How many rounds of revisions are included before I’m billed for additional time?
- If I need content added, who handles creating and uploading the content?
- If I need a CMS, which one does the company recommend?
- Will I be able to see the completed site before it goes live?
- What/how many browsers will the site be tested on?
- Are SEO services included and how will you ensure that my website is search engine-friendly?
- How does the firm handle hosting the websites they design?
- Do you provide training for updating the site myself?
- How long do I have to conduct a final review of the website? How do I ensure that the site is successful— What is used to measure analytics?
Once you’ve communicated the needs of your project, narrowed down your top 3 design companies, received proposals, and had any additional questions answered, you should have a sufficient amount of information and sample work to make a decision regarding who would provide the best services for your project. The more you are able to determine which company would work best with your team, both in terms of communication and the vision for your site and, ultimately, your company, the better your end result will be.