How to Choose a Good Web Design Company
Individuals, business owners, NGOs, government, all understand the need of a website. If you do not have one yet and have decided that this is the time to take the plunge, or if you need to redesign your existing site, deciding “who” would be doing it is a crucial decision.
Most small and even mid size business owners do not have the knowledge and expertise to design and develop a website on their own. If you are one such soul, the point below can make life easier for you by thinking on some points that you need to mull over before you decide whom to hire. Remember that a poorly designed website can not only ruin your brand but can also drive customers away from you. Follow the steps mentioned below and your odds of finding a technology savvy, creative, responsive and cost efficient design firm will go up significantly.
See their past work
Definitely, proof of the pudding lies in its taste but it is you who will have to pay for the cooking and the cook, both. Why not just see what the design company is capable of producing by seeing some of their past work? Also, ensure that the work has been done by themselves and not by some third party or even worse, they have not taken someone else’s work and show to you as theirs. Ask them for phone numbers, emails and real client names whom you can contact to confirm their work standards and delivery norms.
Work Examples in Different Industries
An extension of the point above, but this one makes a big difference. Does their layout, structure, navigation, typography, all look similar across websites? If yes, what is the reason? Are they using some cheap template and modifying it or are the genuinely non creative? Go ahead with them if the answer to the above question is a resounding “No”!
If the business development managers are not responding in the initial talks, it is a good sign that the organization structure is either messed up or they care little. Also, look for their choice of response tool. Do they love emailing or do they ever call? How do they do project management? How would the mockups be approved or the feedback given? The web design industry is one of the most advanced industries online and in the era of Basecamp, activCollab and ProofHQ, if they are still going for email based approvals, we suggest run, as fast as you can and in opposite direction from them.
What is in written?
Agreements and requirement discussions over email, phone and in person are all OK, but everything decided should be presented in a formal contract. Are they putting up a contract, a work order or not? If yes, go through the entire contract, terms and conditions, what’s not covered paragraphs and other minute details carefully. Else it would be easy for a designer to take you hostage through the contract, which you never read in entirety.
This is the double edged sword and it usually lives up to this comparison to tear you apart. As a customer, you always would be on a prowl for the best value for your money. But do not confuse this with the cheapest option. There are many “package options” available which can sell you as cheap as $500 for a website. There may be many catches in it like use of cheap templates, non deliverability of programming portions, buggy code and so on and so forth.
Ensure that you set aside funds which should be invested in the development of your website regularly. If you are short on cash, it is better to settle for a small but custom design and as cash flow improves, invest some funds to improve the site further.
Can they Market your Website?
From most of the design firms, you would get a response – “Oh Yes, we do SEO too!” Do not get convinced without seeing a couple of things like customers that they have done SEO/PPC/SMO for, their own rankings on search engines and client testimonials if possible. Ask some penetrating questions on topics like SEO and if they mention 300 search engines submitted to and reciprocal link exchange, either look for a different designer or at least do not give your SEO to them.
Time of delivery
As important as the price for designing, this attribute usually gets overlooked by clients. In service industry, it is possible that the service provider is juggling with tons of clients at the same time. Would they be able to devote their best teams? Would they be in a position to QA everything properly? Would co-ordination between the design and development be smooth enough without any hiccups?
Web design and development is a fast paced industry and it is possible (and fair too) that you do not know everything about the technology. Still, searching and researching about the solutions that they suggest for content management, site management, image management would be good to know. Would their design confirm to web standards? Would the site be completely spiderable by the search engine robots? These questions can help you go a long way and get the best for your website at least from a technology perspective.