Choosing the Right Web Design Company
In the past 5 years, the graphic and website design industry have grown tremendously. For the consumer - this is great news. A growing industry means more competition, which equals competitive pricing for those of you shopping around for web design companies. There are many important things to consider while shopping for a web designer or web developer that go much further than just a low price however.
Almost every facet of society has shifted to the web. As a result of this, our personal or business web sites are the way we show the world what we're about and what we have to offer. Not only that, but your website is your digital first impression (a first impression that is usually made in about 1 second). For this reason, it is essential to choose the right web designer to represent you on the web. But where and how do you start?
First you need to ask yourself: What is the purpose of my web site? If the answer is, to just throw something up and say you have a web site then I'd stop reading now and purchase an inexpensive template. While this is tempting, it is not recommended. This is one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make, and as a marketer, I will always suggest creating a unique and professional looking web site for any business. With so much competition that exists on the web today, it's important to stand out from your peers and competitors using a custom design that shows you put in the effort to create something new and refreshing for people to see.
Now, back to the original question - the purpose of your web site. If your web site is going to be a part of your marketing piece you want it to be the best it can be. Here are a few answers to important questions that should be asked when choosing the right web design company for your business (regardless of your budget):
- How quickly did the agency respond to your inquiry or request for proposal? The sooner you start your web site, the better. It's important to take note of how quickly the company your looking into responds back. How much time did it take for a representative to respond to your e-mail or return your voice-mail message? Quick turnaround time is important when it comes to web design. There is a lot that goes into creating quality work that can become time consuming. Make sure you choose a company that displays good and quick use of time management as well.
- Are the graphics truly custom designs? Always ask the companies your looking into if their work is custom. You want to make sure that you are going to get a custom design that is unique for your particular business model and brand.
- Do they have the programming skills? Always ask if the company codes with table-less layouts. A lot of the time when you hire a cheaper company they will throw your web site into a table layout, which is the worst thing you can do for search engine optimization (when people search the internet for your company or services). What's the point of putting up a site if you are going to limit yourself in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or bing? A table is like a big brick wall around your house - no one can get in or see inside. A table-less layout with DIVS (HTML term) is like an electric dog fence, keeping everything inside using an invisible fence, allowing visitors to see or come in at their leisure. When it comes to search engine crawlers, you want your web site to have the invisible fence, not the brick wall. This is probably the most important thing on this list!
- Will they understand and meet our expectations? Find the BEST company out there and when they give you that ridiculous quote, tell them your budget and see if they are willing to work with you. Sometimes it's best to get less with an experienced company then it is to go with a cheaper company and get a huge, poor quality website that can present more expensive problems down the line.
- Do you like their work or portfolio? Look at the web design company's portfolio. Make sure that you can look through their design work and see that they have a variety of experience and the company has designs that appeal to you.
- Will this web site be worth the money? A successful business web site will bring you more business and leads. Ask your potential web site design company if they have marketing experience and to give examples of web sites that they have built and promoted. The reason this is important is because if a company JUST does web site design, the chances of them knowing how to design the page for optimized customer retention is unlikely.
- What were other people's experiences? Make sure that the company has plenty of testimonials from past clients and make sure that these clients are also in their portfolio. You don't want to be fooled by illegitimate testimonials from people who don't exist. If they list the company and a person's full name, that is a good example of a legitimate testimonial.
- Do you like them? Make sure you like the people your working with. You will basically be married to this company for the next couple weeks, if not longer. So you want to make sure you are dealing with a friendly and confident firm that communicates with you in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident.
Remember, considering first impressions is important when it comes to web site development. Make sure to take more into consideration than a final price before choosing the professionals in charge of helping you establish the site that will be your digital first impression.