If you’re not in the web design industry, it can be difficult to know how to choose a web design company for your small business or non-profit. There are lots of businesses out there who make a lot of promises when it comes to web design: guaranteed visitors, mobile responsiveness, sites that never need to be updated, etc. The truth is that buying a website is a lot like buying a car: some cars are great and are exactly as-advertised. Some are pretty good, but are overpriced and not worth your money. And others are downright lemons.
Some Other Questions You May Have About How To Choose a Web Design Company
Many questions may occur to you as you start down the path to choosing a web design company:
- Do I really need a web designer?
- How should I hire a designer or developer & how much do they cost?
- Do I need both a designer and a developer? One is to make the website look good, and the other is a code technician that builds the engine of the website.
- Where do I find good designers and developers?
- How many hours will they really need?
- Will I really get what I want after paying?
In addition, the cost of web design has fluctuated dramatically over the past 5 years, largely due to the advent of the mobile web.
To help you make the best choice possible when choosing a web design company, consider the following 3 things before you sign that contract.
Thing #1: Reputation
The first thing to consider when choosing a web designer is what kind of reputation they have. Unless you have thousands and thousands of dollars to spend on your website, you probably won’t be working with the firms that build websites for Fortune 500 companies. You will probably be looking at local firms or firms you find online that have very competitive pricing. When engaging with any web design company, you’ll want to see the following, at minimum:
- A portfolio of work they’ve done in the past
- Client reviews of them on Google, Yelp, or some other site they can’t tamper with
If the web design company you’re considering doesn’t have both of these things, move on. These are both low-threshold ways every good designer knows to showcase their work. Unless you are their first client ever, if they don’t have both of these things, you should be concerned.
Another way to manage reputation, however, is to call up one of their clients yourself. One of our new clients recently did this: they saw a website they liked on our portfolio and called the client themselves before they even approached us. This is a very savvy consumer. That way you get an unbiased take on how good the web design company is before you ever talk to them yourself.
Thing #2: Communication
The next thing you should look for when choosing a web design company is good communication. Unless you’re a web designer yourself and simply don’t have time to build your own site, chances are you will be relying on the company to explain technical options to you. The big things you should ask them about are:
- Content Management System (CMS) or custom build: Will they be using a technology like WordPress, Joomla!, or Magento to build your site or will they be developing it from scratch?
- Updating your site: Will you be able to update the site yourself or will you have to pay them to do it for you?
- Maintenance: Are there any maintenance tasks that go along with the specific type of website they’re building for you? If so: what are they and will they be doing them or will you be?
- Training: Will they train you on how to update your site, and if so: how much will that training cost?
This is where things can get dicey, because it’s easy to mislead customers when answering these questions. Here’s where you need to use your people skills and ask yourself: do you trust the person you’re talking to? Do you feel they answered your questions openly and honestly? Were they able to explain everything to your satisfaction?
Choosing a web design company is a lot like dating: if you don’t hit it off right away, it’s best to look elsewhere. Web design is a very communication-driven process and if you’re not clicking with your web design company now, it will only get worse as they begin to build your website.
Thing #3: Affordability
Finally, you should consider what is realistic for you to pay for web design. Like all companies who make websites, we are occasionally approached by folks who say they can get a beautiful, custom-designed, mobile-responsive website for a few hundred dollars, and will we match that? And to those folks we say: what you are probably getting is a template that will look identical to 10,000s of other websites. If all you have is a few hundred dollars, that’s probably what is realistic for you right now, however, and is a good place to start so you can have a basic web presence.
Pricing for web design also varies dramatically from company to company. Because we cater mostly to small businesses and non-profits, our own pricing is extremely competitive. We think our websites are very good, but we definitely could charge more than we’re charging. We’re also not trying to compete with large design firms that build hundreds of new websites a year, however.
If you have a limited budget, you should let your prospective web design company know that and see what they can do for you.
Trust Your Instincts
In the end, you have to trust your gut when choosing a web design company. The company you choose should be friendly, responsive, and honest. You should feel like they’re the kind of people you might want to have coffee with. You should trust them. If you don’t: look elsewhere. There are lots of web design companies out there, so don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the right match.