Your online presence is more important than ever, so if your website looks dated, it may be time to redesign it. How do you choose the right firm to help update your website if you don’t already have a web design agency you’re happy with?
Begin by conducting some reconnaissance. Search online for web design firms in your area, and ask professional peers for references. Make a list of websites that you like, whether they are in your industry or not, and find out who built each of them.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential web design firms, take the following steps to ensure you select the best partner for your project.
- Look into the firm. The web design agency you choose to build your site will indeed hold your company’s future in its hands. So it’s critical to select a well-established, experienced, and trustworthy company with an excellent reputation and demonstrated expertise in web design and related skills such as web development, SEO, and digital marketing. Visit the website of each prospective web design agency to learn how long they’ve been in business, what services they offer, and what degree of expertise and unique abilities their team members have. Also, look for client testimonials or case studies on the website, and read reviews on third-party sites like Google, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, and Trustpilot.
- Examine the websites of potential agencies. Many web design companies will include a portfolio section on their website where you can see examples of their work. Are the websites they’ve created professional-looking and user-friendly? Does their featured clientele appear to be comparable in size to you? Do the scopes of the sites appear to be similar? Do the sites provide the capabilities you’ll need for your own site?
- Take a look at some of the websites they’ve created. Many web design companies will include a portfolio section on their website where you can see examples of their work. Examine these samples while keeping the following questions in mind: Are the websites they’ve created professional-looking and user-friendly? Is their website design diverse in style, or do the sites appear to have been developed from a template? Does their featured clientele appear to be comparable in size and scope to you? Do the sites provide the capabilities you’ll need for your own site? Are there any examples of websites in your field?
- Make a list of essential features for your website. Before you start talking to agencies, prepare a list of non-negotiables. This will make the vetting process much more accessible, prevent you from forgetting any priorities during the sales process, and help you swiftly limit down your list of prospects to only those who check every box, in addition to the fundamental prerequisites (i.e., WordPress experience, responsive design, ability to integrate with third-party systems, specific functionality such as online payments or registration, etc.). Make a second wish list for things that aren’t deal-breakers but could sway you toward one agency over another (i.e., logo design, secure hosting, content creation, ongoing digital marketing, experience with print design, etc.).
- Understand your timetable and budget. Finding the proper web design partner requires having a solid notion of how much you can pay for a new website and when it must be completed. Establish a pricing range rather than a single number, also. Be sure to inquire about what is included in the project estimate and how/how much you will be charged for fees and services that are not included. Another critical factor to consider is your timetable.
- If you have a hard deadline for the site launch, such as before a major industry event, product launch, or sales cycle, communicate that deadline to agency candidates and ask for an honest assessment of whether they can meet the deadline, any challenges they anticipate with your timeline, and what they will do if they fall behind.
- Make the first call to discuss your project and set up a meeting. Take note of how they manage this introduction call—are they approachable and friendly? Do they inquire about your company and the specifics of the job, or do they get right into a hard sell? Because this is a company you should consider as a long-term agency partner, chemistry is essential. While the individual who answers the phone may not be the person you deal with the most (or at all), once you sign on as a client, that person still reflects the overall personality of the organization, so make sure it feels like a good fit.
- Finding a web design partner who is a good fit for your company and brand takes some effort. Still, the more research you do before signing a contract, the more likely you will be satisfied with the agency relationship, the web design process, and the website they offer when the project is finished.
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