Your website is often the first thing people see when they look for your company, and first impressions count. According to The Global Statistics, 88% of website users say they won’t go back to a website that gave them a poor user experience, and 89% of shoppers will buy from a competitor if they’re unimpressed by a site.
Unfortunately, unless you’re a web designer or have a team of in-house web designers, developing the perfect website can be challenging. Not only do you need to have a site that’s appealing to your audience, but you also need to keep search engine optimization best practices in mind.
Finding the right partner that understands your design requirements and has a proven track record is vital for creating a responsive web design that attracts attention and generates leads for your business.
But how do you know which web design firm can deliver on their promises and take your website from clunky and slow to modern and streamlined? We put together this guide to help you sort through your options and choose an experienced website design company.
Why Is a Professionally Designed Site a Good Investment?
A common mistake that many businesses make when designing a new website is to use third-party website builders and templates. These have the appeal of being relatively inexpensive and easy to learn, and they often come with content management systems that make maintaining your site easy. Sounds, great, right? Well, not so much.
The problem is that while these sites are easy to set up, they’re difficult to customize. Ideally, you want your new website to stand out from the crowd, and a cookie-cutter layout is unlikely to generate leads or create trust in your brand. Also, these website builders have limited scope, and once your business starts growing, you may find the software can’t keep up with your increasing demands.
A much better option is to work with a web design partner with the experience and skills to build custom websites to your specifications. While these services have a higher up-front cost, professional website design gives you a head start on your marketing efforts, from SEO and PPC landing pages to building trust and converting leads.
Why Is Finding the Right Web Design Company So Important?
If you’ve already started your search for a web design agency, you know exactly how formidable the challenge can be. It’s easy to find hundreds of web design companies in your area, and narrowing them down to a select few will take time and commitment.
The main reason we recommend taking your time during this process is that the web design partner you choose may have the future of your business in their hands. Your website will form the cornerstone of your marketing efforts, and working with the wrong agency will result in delays, frustration, and a website that you hate.
Getting it right the first time will simplify the web design process, kickstart your business, and start a relationship that can last for decades.
10 Tips on How to Select the Best Web Design Agency for Your Needs
So you’re ready to redesign your website and want to choose a website design agency… where do you start?
Here are our tried-and-true tips on choosing the right company for your web design needs:
1. Know What You Need
Website designs can vary dramatically depending on your business, SEO requirements, and target audience. Knowing what you need is the first step in narrowing down your choices.
For instance, if you want to sell products directly from your site, an e-commerce web developer will be a better choice than a company that focuses on portfolio or service websites.
Here are some questions to identify your needs and help you find the perfect web designer for you:
- Who is your target audience?
- What do you want your visitors to do?
- What elements does your site need to succeed? (service pages, videos, a checkout purchase flow, etc.)
- How will the site complement your other marketing efforts?
2. Find Reputable Web Design Agencies
The simplest way to find web designers for your business website is to look online using search engines.
While working with a local design agency is convenient, you don’t need to limit yourself to local searches. Modern video conferencing solutions make working with companies across the country easier than ever, and it’s often better to work with a higher-quality company that’s further away than settle for a mediocre local web design agency.
Other tips for finding reputable web designers include:
- Search for companies using social media
- Make sure to add your industry niche during any searches, like “website design firm for law offices”
- Look at competitor sites and ask them who they used to design their websites
3. Check Their Website
Good web design agencies should have excellent websites that display their skills and design philosophy. You can use the company’s website as a test—if the agency isn’t willing to put in maximum effort for its own site and create an excellent first impression, it’s unlikely that it will do better working on yours.
Look for the following elements when reviewing your potential partner’s website:
- How do they merge their brand with modern design trends?
- Is their website user-friendly, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly?
- Are there any broken links, spelling mistakes or grammar errors, or poorly formatted images?
- Does the website conform to SEO best practices, such as having backlinks and tons of informative content for users to browse?
4. Read Their Reviews
Testimonials and reviews are a good way to discover how the agency treats its customers and how they will treat you.
When looking at customer reviews, keep the following in mind:
- Testimonials are indicative of trends—just because one customer had a bad experience should not affect your overall view of the company. But if you see multiple reviews complaining about the same thing, then you may need to re-evaluate whether the web design company is worth your time.
- Agencies that don’t know how to handle reviews correctly will not have the skills to help you manage your social media or testimonials.
While evaluating reviews is important, exercising caution is just as important. Some sketchy web designers may fake reviews, and these can often be difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
Follow these actionable tips to avoid falling for fake reviews:
- Look at reviews from various sources, including Yelp, Facebook, and Google, in addition to the company’s site.
- Be wary of any web design agency that only has testimonials on its website or one that only has glowing, five-star reviews from happy clients.
5. Check Their Portfolio
While the agency’s website will show off how the company approaches general web design trends, reviewing its client portfolio will show you how well it adapts to customer requirements.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when looking at a potential partner’s previous work:
- Any established, reputable web design company will have a list of past clients and a portfolio of case studies and previous work for you to browse through. Some newer agencies may have a limited selection of clients’ sites, which is fine, but you should be wary of any agency that claims to have been in business for several years and has a suspiciously small portfolio.
- Make sure to look at client websites and case studies directly instead of relying on provided screenshots or mock-ups. You can only get a feel of responsive website design and how user-friendly the experience is by interacting with the website, which will give you a good indicator of how well your eventual website will function.
- Look at whether the web design company follows design trends with a balanced approach that won’t feel dated within a year.
- Wherever possible, contact past clients and ask about their experience with the web design agency, which may reveal potential issues or reassure you that you’re making the right choice.
6. Check Their Social Media
Social media is the perfect place to see how a web design agency interacts with potential and existing clients. As with poor handling of customer reviews, you should avoid any web design agency that does not have a strong social media presence and can’t deal effectively with criticism.
7. Review Their Communication Style
Building a website requires clear communication between your business and the web design company you choose. It’s impossible to build websites without everyone being on the same page, and communication issues can quickly derail an otherwise successful project. It’s essential to choose a web design agency that communicates on the same wavelength as the businesses it serves.
From your first contact, evaluate how the agency communicates with you, and look for the following positive signs:
- Fast response times
- Communication in your chosen channel (email, phone, video conferencing)
- Clarity-seeking questions
- Rapid understanding of your needs
Any good web partner should be responsive to your needs and ready with ideas to help achieve your desired goals. A responsive web design company will take your feedback and provide a balanced, agile approach to web design.
You should also find out what support the agency offers after you’ve concluded your project—some designers work on a per-project basis, while others are ready to become your web design partner for as long as you need them.
8. Do They Know Your Niche?
Does your business occupy an extremely competitive niche? Standing out from other businesses requires a deep understanding of the industry. A web design agency specializing in your niche will already have extensive competitor research, allowing it to hit the ground running with your website design and ensure you get a high-quality website that attracts and converts visitors.
You can discover whether a web design company really understands your niche by:
- Looking at its portfolio of previous work.
- Performing an industry-specific search and seeing how many of their designed websites show up in the search results.
9. Ask About Their Marketing Experience
The purpose of most business websites is to attract customers, and working with a web design company that understands marketing offers a distinct advantage.
Make sure to ask your prospective agency whether they have an in-house marketing department or whether they outsource their marketing to a third party.
When your web design company understands your marketing needs, you will have a website poised to take advantage of the latest marketing trends. These companies will factor SEO into your website’s development, ensure you have a mobile-friendly, responsive web design, and often provide support services for link building and other marketing endeavors.
10. Ask How They Do Reports
Your website redesign isn’t a simple one-and-done deal. You should expect to monitor your website over time to ensure it stays functional and supports your business goals.
For example, if you want to track conversion rate to ensure that your website is increasing sales, your web design company can build that into the website design.
Most web design companies offer ongoing reporting to help you track site performance, but how do they deliver those reports? Do you have to sort through PDFs and emails, or will you have one simple dashboard to review? Does the company provide an account manager who can answer your questions? These are essential questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line.
Meeting with Different Web Design Companies
Once you’ve gone through the vetting process, you should have a shortlist of potential web design companies. The next step in the research process is to schedule a meeting with each to get to know them better. This introductory session is a great way to start developing ideas while getting a feel for the company and how it will work with your business.
Questions to Ask a Potential Web Design Partner
Meetings are important to get a feel for the company, and one of the best ways to do so is to ask specific questions that help you gauge the trustworthiness and suitability of the agency for your needs. These include:
- Can I meet the design team? Often, the people you interact with during the start of a web design consultation aren’t the people who will be doing the work. Even a quick five-minute meeting can help you decide if you can develop a relationship with the design team.
- Will I have a website content management system? Content management systems (CMS) can simplify website management by making it easier to publish new content and keep up with SEO best practices. Some agencies have an in-house CMS, while others work with reputable third-party brands, such as WordPress or Magento.
- How do user experience and marketing factor into your website development process? If you want a business website for marketing purposes, you will want to choose a web design company that has ideas for incorporating your marketing goals into your website. This includes styling your website to match your brand, being mobile-friendly, and having industry-leading website performance and analytics tools.
Using Social Media to Find the Right Web Design Company
While Google may be your first stop when looking for an agency, looking through social media can help refine your search and discover potentially novel prospects. Here are some tips on using social media to find the right company for your project:
- Look on social media platforms that match the platforms your target audience uses. If your target audience uses Facebook, finding an agency that can use Facebook is more valuable than one that uses Instagram.
- Examine how they interact with current and former clients.
- Use social media to get a feel for the corporate culture within the agency.
Don’t Skimp on Costs: Cheap Is Not Always Cheap
A good website isn’t cheap, and working with a professional is invaluable. Cheap options, such as using website builders or taking a DIY approach, often result in problems later, leading to extensive downtime and, most likely, a complete website redesign by a professional agency.
Since your new website is a significant investment, it’s vital to research potential candidates thoroughly. When you meet with a web design agency, discuss:
- Your expectations
- How your budget fits within their ordinary billing structure
- Strategies to bring costs down without sacrificing quality
- A thorough breakdown of initial and maintenance costs
We at Connective hope that this article helped you learn how to select your web design company. If you are interested in working with us, we have experience working across numerous industries and can help you build a website that will meet your specific business goals. Contact us at (818) 570-5620 to schedule a demo and find out how we can take your website, and business, to the next level!