You need a web design agency. There are absolutely oodles of them to choose from. How to choose the right web design company for your business? And what does the 'right' web design agency mean anyway? Where on earth do you start? Let's unravel the mystery.
What to look for in a web designer?
A website company can be many, many things. It can be enormous or tiny, local, national or international. It can focus on one specialist sector or be an expert in web design in general. Some home in on a particular content management system (CMS) or platform, others are free and easy. Some charge a fortune, some charge peanuts, and there's everything in between. Here are some sensible tips to make your life a bit easier.
What does 'right' mean to you?
First, a word about 'rightness'. In this context, the 'right' web designer means right for you and your business. And that can mean many different things. Your first task is to pin down exactly what 'right' means to you. Does it mean the right price, location, focus, sector or level of experience, or something very specific like sky-high levels of creativity? It might even mean something as simple as finding a person whose personality or work ethic resonates strongly enough with you. Once you know what you're looking for, it's a whole lot easier to find it. So, make a wishlist and you're off.
Now you know what 'right' means in your world...
Once you've pinned down exactly what 'right' means in your context, it's time to take the next steps.
The internet is your best friend. Use it to create a shortlist of potential website design partners that fulfil all your criteria. Find websites that list agencies and your life will be a lot easier, especially if they categorise them as well as listing them.
Now you've got a shortlist it's time to examine each website individually. Is the site old-fashioned-looking, incomplete, not updated for a long time or without a blog? All these are signs they're not looking after their own online presence, either because they're too busy, which is bad, or they're not bothered, which is just as bad.
How does their website rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs)? If they're hidden so deep in the search pages that they don't pop up for any of the keywords you're using to search it might mean they don't understand SEO, and that doesn't bode well for your website. You can't design a hard-working website without taking keywords into account from the very start, and it's mad trying to crowbar them in afterwards.
How easy is it to find the information you need on their website? If you're struggling, it probably means they're not too hot on the UX, the user experience, and that's bad in all sorts of ways including the time people spend on the site (short because they're exasperated), response rates (low because people get frustrated and click away) and conversion rates (crap, because people find the whole thing such a pain). Do you want a website like that? No, you don't!
Don't forget to check the site's load times, another good indicator of quality. If the pages load so slowly you can make a cuppa in between, something's gone badly wrong. It needs to load super-duper-fast.
The same goes for images. If they're the size of Wales or even whales, the web design company has missed an essential trick. They should be small file sizes that load really fast without any compromise on quality.
Is their site mobile-friendly? If not, walk away – they've missed out on one of the most essential basics and shouldn't be trusted to draw a stick figure, never mind design a website for a business.
What do their existing customers say? If there aren't any testimonials or reviews, why not? Search Google for reviews, search Yelp, look for Facebook reviews and see what pops up.
This process should help you weed out the best web design agencies for your final shortlist. Maybe it contains 3 or 5 agencies or designers to make your final choice from. At this stage, you might want to pick up the phone, send an email or even arrange to visit in person, all of which gives you another chance to identify the best choice of all.
How responsive are the final shortlisted agencies to your queries? Did they come back to you within a few minutes, an hour, a day, maybe longer? What does that say about them?
How did you feel about the conversation or email response? Did they answer all your questions easily, or sound uncertain? Did you warm to the person on the other end of the phone or not feel particularly confident in them? Personal feelings matter in this context because you're going to be working really closely with them for some time.
Did they jargon the heck out of you, or did you understand everything easily? If someone blinds you with science it often means they're not actually very confident in their abilities.
Don't forget to talk through the discovery and web design process together. If they don't know what a discovery process is, cross them off your list. If they don't mention your business goals or plans, they jolly well should. Every great site is built on a firm business foundation, inspired by the business' goals and aims, which in turn tap directly into your ongoing strategy for growth. A good designer will always put your business plans and goals at the heart of their design because that's the way you measure success.
Now it's time to check out the costs, the way they charge, and any ongoing costs like website maintenance and platform updates. If you're going to manage the site yourself once it's completed, you'll want to know about their handover process, and whether they'll provide training if you need it. Ideally, you'll want a design partner that's in it for the long haul, not someone who just designs and runs.
Follow the above and you stand the best chance of finding a web designer so brilliant you'd like to move in with them tomorrow, propose the day after, and have zillions of children with them. Or at least a great designer that can make a top job of your online presence! That's us. Give us a call.