Choosing a web design agency is the second most important decision you have to make when you need a website. The first one is what you need your website for. Both will define what you get. So how do you go about it?
You obviously need a reliable, professional team and you’ll probably have to make your choice with no technical knowledge in a market flooded with supply. Fortunately, there are a few easy rules and criteria to make sure you find the right web design agency for your project.
A good starting point is to look at websites you have used and liked yourself. Usually, there’s a link to the web design agency in the site’s footer. The important part is to see beyond visual design. Usability is the main criteria you’re looking for. Choose sites that are easy to understand and navigate. It doesn’t mean your site can look ugly, though. Along with good usability, lean visuals convey quality.
Test your web design agency
Next, check the websites of the web agencies you have shortlisted and browse their portfolios. Pay attention to diversity. The more different kinds of websites an agency has done, the better their overall experience. But if all you see are landing pages, ordering an online store with that team might not be a good idea.
Contact the web design agency’s clients for direct feedback. Ask about their experience with the web design studio, what they liked, what went wrong, if anything. But more importantly ask about their experience using their website and how it has improved their business. After all, your website is a marketing, sales and client relations management instrument, and you want it to work flawlessly.
When you have a list of suitable candidates, get in touch with them and put them to another test – see what questions they ask you. If all they want to know is what kind of website you want, how it should look and feel or, God forbid, how many pages you need, run away. A professional web design team will only ask about your business goals, target audience, sales process and what you need your website for.
Nobody knows your business better than you
At this final stage, choose the web design agencies you liked the most, set out your goals for them and study their proposals. Make sure these describe all the functionality you expect, especially things you might think go without saying, and cover important areas like security, speed, responsive design, cross-browser compatibility and standards compliance. Read more on how to write a website specification.
Some web design studios and agencies offer copy writing and promotion services. These are not directly related to building a website, but are vital nonetheless. Especially content. A well built website with poor or irrelevant content will not achieve its goals. The catch here is that nobody knows your business better than you, so content should be your responsibility. Professional agencies will help you with your content and give advice on best practice, but control should be in your hands.
Last, but not least, comes the price factor. Once you have a shortlist of candidates and their proposals, compare their prices and offers for your best deal. But avoid comparing prices without knowing all the other details. Building websites is hard work, and it goes far beyond nice visual design. Read more on how much it really costs to make a website. Remember that you always get what you pay for, and out of speed, cost and quality you can only choose any two.