Choosing a web design company to take your idea and business forward can be, for most, a daunting and worrying task. There are literally thousands to choose from. It’s so easy these days for someone to get free software, knock up a few web pages and call themselves a web designer so where do you start?
How do you cut the wheat from chaff? How do you make sure you’ve hired the right people? Well if we’re honest there’s no 100% full proof method but here are a few pointers to help you along the way. We’ll try to cover some points in greater depth later on on our blog.
1. Do you know anyone else who has had a professional website built? Do they have a recommendation for you?
2. If not and you’re looking for a local design company then look at other websites that are local to you but not in the same line of work as yours. At the bottom of the site should be a link to the company that designed the site so you can look at the web design company’s own website.
3. Does the company look professional? Does it instil confidence in you? Does their website feel honest or is it just one long sales pitch?
4. Look at portfolios of work, look at their other websites. Is there consistency in design? Do they all look professional?
5. Does the design company display customer testimonials? This is a good sign but of course companies will only show the best comments so email or call other clients listed in the portfolio and ask how they found the company you’re vetting and how was doing business with them, were there any problems etc?
6. Do this with as many web design companies as you feel you need to and perhaps produce a short list of 2 or 3 and then contact them by phone or email to make a first response. Are they keen to help you and listen to you or are they keen to try and sell you something you maybe don’t need?
7. Don’t expect a price immediately. Every website is different and any company that rushes in to give you a price probably doesn’t 100% understand what it is you need and that might be a warning sign. This really depends on the complexity of your project of course. A simple site is easy to price for example.
8. How busy are your short listed companies? Don’t expect that people can fit you in right away, In fact a busy company is a good sign. There are exceptions of course but if a company can fit you in right away why is this so? Why are they not busy with lots of other clients work? A busy company is a good sign of a good company.
9. Companies that don’t advertise is a good sign. Don’t reach for the yellow pages to find a company. Companies that get the majority of their business through recommendations don’t need to advertise in yellow pages but are harder to find.
10. Make sure you feel you can work with the company and the nominated contact. Even if they are recommended to you at the end of the day you just might not get on with them and that’s not good for you or the web design company.
11. Do the short listed companies use separate specialists or are all (or just one) the staff multi skilled? It’s better to have a designer to do the design and a developer to do the programming, each with his own specialist knowledge.
12. Ask your short listed companies if they are aware of validated standards of programming and if they are aware and comply with the accessibility standards?
13. Do make sure you are open about your budget, this isn’t an exercise to get eh cheapest quote it’s an exercise to get the best value for money and get you the best website for your money to get as your business will rely on it. If your short listed companies seem price focused and ready to match and beat quotes then maybe they aren’t the right one. Company should be confident in their price and that it matches the service they offer. Your other research with contacting past customers will confirm whether the service is good or not.
Working with your web design company doesn’t need to be a chore and taxing. It should be pleasant and fun, to a degree. Do expect to work with your chosen company, providing input and also listening to their advice. They, after all, are the experts. Trust in them like you would your accountant or solicitor.
When you have your short-list then perhaps ask the advice of friends or family who can be a little more objective and maybe give some vital input and advice that you may of overlooked. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what looks great to you might look bad to someone else so straw polls can be valuable.