How do you choose the right provider for web design services? As a small business owner, you probably understand the importance of having a user-friendly website. That means finding the right professional to build you something that is both beautiful and easy to use. But can you distinguish the important differences between one web design agency and another? Or those between individual web designers and developers? If you aren’t used to shopping for web design services or have never used them, you probably don’t know exactly what you need.
Don’t fret. There are some key considerations that can guide you when trying to pick the right web design service provider for your site.
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Start by doing your homework on web design services
Choosing the wrong web design service provider can be devastating, but some companies will stay with an agency they aren’t happy with because the mere thought of going through the search process again is overwhelming.
If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to worry about either situation.
Do your research and follow the tips below when reviewing web design services.
A good web design service agency is going to ask lots of questions. If you are talking to a company and they aren’t digging deep to find out more about your business, that’s a bad sign.
Good web design companies will also take the time to find out what problem you are trying to solve with your website project. If you are willing to spend money on a website, there must be a goal you are trying to reach. This could be increasing sales, streamlining internal processes, generating leads or something else.
Your web design service provider should know your end goal before they ever start building your website.
Additionally, a web professional should be able to communicate with you in a way that you can understand. Web developers are prone to speaking in jargon. Good web service providers will find a common ground of communication so everyone is always on the same page.
Know what web design services you need
To launch a website, you will need a consultancy that can design and develop it. If you have the budget, you may want to hire an agency with dedicated team members for each step. If your budget is smaller, you can look for a designer who can customize a pre-built WordPress theme.
The advantage of hiring an agency is they have more services under one roof.
Along with design and development, they may have a user experience (UX) expert to ensure the site is intuitive, a content strategist to craft the right messaging, and a search marketing manager to make sure the site is found on Google. A web design freelancer may only have mastered a couple of disciplines.
Learn the terminology
Every web consultancy may focus on different aspects of a build. Find out and understand the specialty of each web design service provider you talk to. To get you started, here are a few common components that may be offered as part of a provider’s website design services:
Web design: A catch-all phrase for providing all web services, or it can just mean creating the visual design and layout of the website.
Development: The actual coding of the website. This may mean building a custom website from the ground up or simply adding custom functionality to a template. (Read “Web development 101 for small businesses” to learn more.)
Branding: Usually includes logo design, but the company may also help you create the voice, color palette and messaging of your website.
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Search engine optimization: The best practices incorporated into pages to help your website rank higher in Google and Bing. SEO may also be used to raise your visibility on platforms like YouTube and Yelp.
Content strategy/copywriting: Creation of the content for your website and figuring out where to put each message for optimal results.
Understand all web design services are not created equal
A freelance designer might be able to make your site look gorgeous, but your SEO and UX could be less than up to par. Likewise, a development agency may be able to make everything work perfectly, but it may not have a knack for bringing the latest design trends to life. Whenever possible, choose a web design provider that specializes in your industry and has work examples of successes in the specific services you need.
Other thoughts when selecting web design services
In addition to finding a provider with great communication skills and the ability to deliver the key services you care about, think about the following considerations before selecting a web design service:
Do full-time employees provide all services in house or do they sub-contract? Find out who is doing the work for your website. You’ll want to know if they farm out the work to whoever is available on Craigslist.
Are the people doing the work locally or out of town? Working with someone face to face may improve communication. If your web provider of choice is out of town, find out if they are willing to schedule regular phone calls or video conferences with you.
What does their client roster look like? Have they worked with other businesses like yours? Look at their portfolio and examine their client history. Ask them if there are relevant clients not listed on their website.
If the web company doesn’t provide a service (like photography or videography), can they put you in touch with someone who does? Ask if they give referrals for services outside of their specialty.
What does their review profile show? Before hiring anyone, research what past clients say about them on Google, Yelp and the BBB. A positive review profile speaks volumes about a web design professional.
Does their website look professional? Evaluate the website of the company you are considering hiring. Does it look legitimate? Is it attractive?
Do they publish content on their blog? Online marketing, web design and development are continually changing. Digital marketing companies should be sharing insights with their clients regularly to help them improve their businesses.
Do they understand your industry? If given a choice, it’s better to pick someone who has a lot of experience serving companies in your industry over someone who doesn’t.
After your site launches, will they help you measure results? Will they have suggestions for improvements as user data and analytics come in?
If you take the right steps and consider what’s important, your web design service provider can be a long-term partner that helps you succeed over time — not someone who considers the job done as soon as your website launches.