Picture this — you want to set up an online business and know that having a website is one of the first things to check off your to-do list. So you immediately log on to Google and search for the best web design companies, hoping you chance upon the right agency.
Is this the best way to go about something that will serve as a digital storefront for your business 24/7? Is choosing a web design agency simply about picking the top results that search engines send your way?
A website’s role in shaping your online presence cannot be underestimated. And the agency you choose to design it can make or break it. That’s why selecting your website design partner without determining whether they are the right choice for you can have undesirable consequences.
Here’s a handy checklist to help you make the right choice:
1 – Understand what your goals are
Starting a website without knowing what you expect it to do is the same as taking an exam without preparing for it — you are setting yourself up for failure.
No web design agency can build you a website unless you know what the goals you want to achieve are. Before looking for a web design company, list what you expect your website to do. Will it be a marketing vehicle, or will it also take care of your sales? Are you building a website to generate brand awareness for the top-of-the-funnel audience, or do you want to take a more conversion-focused approach? Depending on your line of business, industry, and audience preference, pick the goals best suited to your needs.
Your goals are your North Star — they can steer the website design in the right direction.
2 – Work on your budget
How much you can afford to spend on creating a new website greatly impacts who you choose. Not every agency in the market may fit within your budget.
For example, if you are aiming for an extremely elaborate design but are on a tight budget, it is possible that an agency that’s known for such work may not be able to work within the budget you have set.
As a rule of thumb, the more you want out of your website, the more it will cost. The last thing you want is to end up in a situation where you spend a chunk of your money on designing your website, leaving you with very little to spend on other marketing initiatives.
So, decide your budget and account for a buffer to cover unforeseen expenses. Consider approaching a few shortlisted agencies with an outline of requirements to get quotes. This can help you to zero down on your budget sooner.
3 – Check out portfolios and experience
Professional web design agencies usually have their portfolios on their website. Make sure to browse through to get an idea of the kind of expertise they bring. Keep an eye on the websites you like in particular so that you can provide references when you get into in-depth discussions. It is also a good idea to walk through selected websites to understand how a user feels. Also, check for variety in designs and themes. Ideally, you’d want someone who can design something unique while preserving the core design aesthetics.
Based on the portfolio, prepare a list of questions to ask before you sign on with a web design company:
- Has the agency worked on a website similar to what you have in mind?
- Are they familiar with the preferences and demands of users in your industry?
- Does the agency provide ongoing support to address any maintenance needs of the website they have created?
- What is the average turnaround time of a project?
How experienced your agency is also plays a crucial role in sealing the fate of the website they are designing. Someone who has been operating in the industry for a long period is likely to have deeper insights into the latest trends than someone who has just started their shop.
4 – Ask for proof and testimonials
The proof always lies in the pudding. Web design agencies with a proven track record of designing jaw-dropping websites for their clients won’t shy away from details of how their design has made a real difference to the client’s bottom line through reduced bounce rates, an increase in visitor count, and a boost in sales. If the agency you’re considering can not demonstrate such measurable results, it’s a sign that you need to continue looking.
Reading testimonials from previous clients gives you a first-hand idea of how efficiently an agency has handled similar projects in the past. But more than the testimonials published on the website, try to look up the reviews posted on Google My Business as they are more likely to be genuine.
Check the social media profiles of the design agency and go through the comments to get an insight into how the general public perceives the business. Even if there is a single negative review, tread carefully. If you know of any client or business who has availed of the agency’s website design service, ask them how their experience was.
5 – Ask if additional services will be provided
Creating a website is only the tip of the iceberg. You must ensure that it is maintained properly to protect it from security breaches. You may also need to completely overhaul the website to keep up with the latest technological trends.
Ideally, the agency designing your website should handle such ancillary services as they completely understand how the website works. When speaking with potential agencies, don’t forget to check if website maintenance plans and website redesign services are provided once the initial project is completed.
6 – Don’t underestimate the importance of communication
It is crucial to pick a web design agency that communicates with you throughout the project. As a client, you should receive timely updates about the various milestones of the project to ensure it is completed on time. Communication is also key to addressing sudden changes in the scope of work to avoid confusion later.
When you speak with potential partners, ask if they will assign a dedicated person for your project who will be your first point of contact should you need any information. Also, check the frequency of receiving updates on the project — will you get a weekly or fortnightly update?
This is where hiring a local web design company can be beneficial for local businesses. For example, if your business is located in Los Angeles, you can expect better support from a Los Angeles web design agency than one that doesn’t operate in Los Angeles. If needed, you can even meet face-to-face to address any urgent issues. On the other hand, appointing a web design company from a different city means you depend entirely on online communication modes. Sometimes, that may not yield results in real-time.
The right web agency can differentiate between a smooth operating website and one full of glitches. Make sure to have stringent parameters for your selection process to pick the right agency that can deliver outstanding results.
Even though it may seem like a time-consuming process, don’t allow a novice to do a hack job. After all, all good things take time, and the time spent is worth it.