Choosing a web design firm can be one of the most challenging aspects of launching your new website. You have ideas swimming around in your head and you want your website to be perfect. With so many design firms out there how can you possibly know which one is going to give you the results you’re after?
When you’re searching for the right web design firm there are many things you’ll have to consider to make a decision. Make a list of what’s most important to you as a jumping-off point. Doing a little research upfront can save you a lot of heartache through the process.
It’s okay to take your time choosing, having high standards is a great way to find the company that will help you get the website you want. As you are searching, here are six aspects of a web design search you may not have thought of.
1. Do They Make a Good First Impression?
It’s likely the first place you looked for a web design firm was the internet. Most firms will design their own website because that’s their skill set. It’s also important to ensure that they are using a reputable hosting company, so that you know that the work you receive will be reliable and high-quality. This gives you a chance to check them out before you even contact the firm.
If you don’t love the design aesthetic of their website it doesn’t mean they can’t design in a way you’d prefer. However, it’s likely that if you are not excited by their site you won’t appreciate their work when it’s your own. After all, this is their business and their website is where they should be putting their best foot forward.
Check out the flow of the designer’s website. Does it function well for you? Do you find it easy to navigate? If their site seems clunky or difficult to use likely when they build your website you’ll likely run into the same problems.
Many web designers have a small portfolio section available online so you can see some samples of their work. If their examples are catching your eye, it could be a good indication you should set up a meeting with this firm. Conversely, if the work doesn’t interest you find a different company.
2. What’s Your Budget?
There is a wide range of web designers, from the most basic beginners to the web designers of Fortune 500 companies. Likely, your budget will fall somewhere in that range, but if you don’t have a budget in mind already it’s a good idea to have one figured out prior to reaching out for a meeting with a firm. (And double-check they can stay within your budget as well.)
A big red flag is if a company is ultra-cheap. Don’t be fooled by unbelievably low prices, it likely means you’ll receive a barebones design and will be charged additionally for specific features you will want. Doing a little cost research in advance can help you understand what a fair estimate should be.
Not only is having an accurate idea of your budget a good plan but you should also be realistic on the timeline. Good web design can take up to 6 months to complete up to the standards you would expect. There’s a lot that goes into a design that you may not even realize, that’s why you’re hiring someone.
However, if a firm is swamped and they give you a completion date that is significantly further out than will work for your business, then you can move on down the list to the next designer. Or you can decide that you’re willing to wait for the firm you like. Either way, setting expectations on completion time is essential before you sign anything.
3. Will They Use Responsive Web Design?
Maybe you don’t even know you should be asking about this. But responsive website design means that your website will function and look correct no matter how it is visited. In short: will it look good on a cell phone or an iPad and not just a desktop?
You don’t want your website to be stuck in the stone age and with 81% of Americans owning a smartphone, it would not be a good move to have a website design that they can’t use to the fullest extent. Most great designers will do this automatically, but it’s good to make sure before you get started on the design.
4. Do They Work In House?
Many big firms will outsource smaller projects. This may not bother you, but if you prefer the personal touch or the chance to speak with your designer frequently, you may want to know that the person you’ll talk to doesn’t actually work for the company you’re paying. If you’re hoping for a project manager, make that clear to see if that’s possible.
There is no reason to believe the outsourced website design will be anything but great. But if a company isn’t transparent about their workforce or who will be completing your project, it may be a red flag there are other issues at the company as well.
5. Who Provides the Copy and Images?
Web designers aren’t copywriters and they likely aren’t photographers as well. Make sure before a project gets started if you’ll be expected to provide descriptions and information about your business or if they have a department that can assist you with creating that material.
When you’re creating a website you want to have the best possible pictures of your merchandise, logos, and brand materials. Find out if you’ll be using stock photography to round out your website or if you should be looking into hiring a photographer to take the pictures you really want.
Or decide to opt for user-generated content, that’s an option your web designer should help you consider using. Just be sure to have a plan for your copy and images ahead of time so you aren’t surprised by what you end up with.
6. Do They Offer Ongoing Support?
If a web design company can create the perfect website for you that’s great! You definitely want to make sure that once your site goes live, however, that the design firm will continue to offer support. Or if tech support is even available through the firm. If you can’t fix it yourself, you’ll want to be in touch with the company that built it after all.
Do they offer a warranty? Did they explain to you what to do if you’re ever having trouble with your email or the functionality of your website? If you are having problems do you know exactly who to contact? Getting the answers to these questions before your process begins can help reassure you you’re making the right choice.
The best web design firms will set up a chain of communication for you in case you run into any issues with your website. Feeling secure with a design is good, feeling secure in the knowledge your website is in good hands for its lifespan is even better.
At Last: Finding the Perfect Web Design Firm
Getting started looking for a web design firm can feel overwhelming, but when you put a little research into your process you will be prepared to discuss the website you’ve been dreaming of and can be confident it will be delivered that way. Don’t be afraid to shop around and meet with a few options.
Asking good questions of the web design firms should give you the information you need to make a solid decision. Remember you’re not only choosing someone to build your website, but you’re also choosing a company to work with as partners. Your gut instinct is important too! If your questions don’t have great answers, keep looking for the perfect web design firm for you!
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