As a small business in the modern world, you need a website.
But, where do you go to get one made?
There are a lot of web design companies out there.
Search and see for yourself.
They all claim to provide the highest quality.
They all claim to provide the best designs.
They all claim to be the most dependable.
Then again, it’s really not surprising, is it?
Nevertheless, it probably still confuses you to no end when trying to make the decision on which web design company you should go with to design your website.
I mean, if they all talk a good game, how are you going to know which companies are just talk and nothing to back it up?
If you look at them individually, each one will tell you it is “the best” choice.
There are a few things you can do, however, to weed out the web designers you shouldn’t be working with, and it won’t take very much time or effort:
1. The cost of a good website design
There’s a quote which says you get what you pay for.
While not everything can have its quality measured in dollars and cents, most things can.
That couldn’t be truer when it comes to website design.
Especially if the website is going to represent your business or better yet, your personal brand, you don’t want to cheap out on this particular expense.
Think about why someone would price their designs at a ridiculously low price-point.
It’s either one of two (main) reasons:
- Their skills are sorely lacking the ability to charge a higher fee, or
- They don’t do real work but sell slightly altered copies of a theme or template & hope to make money on volume.
[There are probably numerous other reasons, but these are the big ones I’m going to touch on for now]
You want to choose a company that will charge you fairly–after all, everyone is entitled to make a living.
How do you know what “fair” is?
That’s tough since it’s a very subjective term.
But, if you get enough quotes you ‘ll develop a feel for the fair range.
Don’t get tripped up by convincing yourself that you only need a “simple website” either.
As Andrea Whitmer of Nuts And Bolts Media will tell you in this article, a simple website isn’t always simple
And, if you ever wondered how a web design firm prices their products, check out this article on web design pricing.
2. Examine the website designer’s portfolio
[clickToTweet tweet=”Always check if a website designer’s work is still being used by past customers.” quote=”Always check if a website designer’s work is still being used by past customers.”]
This should have to go without saying, but there are some less than brilliant people in the world.
So, for them…if a designer (or a company) doesn’t even have their own website, it might be wise to stay away.
Now, the first thing you want to look at is the portfolio of past projects.
Again, if they don’t have a portfolio prominently displayed someplace on the site, run away.
Of course, it’s like looking at a house from the outside without getting an inspection done if you just stop there.
Physically visit some of the client sites.
The first thing you may notice is that the “client” doesn’t even use that site design. If that is the case, I think you know what I’m going to suggest you do (yes, run).
You can contact that client and see exactly why they ended up using a different design, as it may clarify things a bit for you.
For those examples that do match what was shown in the portfolio, click around, see how the flow and user experience is.
If you don’t like many of them, then you may not like how that company will design your website either.
3. How can I contact you?
In any profession, being available to clients (or potential clients) is an absolute must.
That’s why whenever we can, we give others a million and one ways to get in touch with us–home, work & cell numbers, social media, multiple email addresses, etc.
But a company that doesn’t make it easy for you to contact them? And what if they only do text-based communications (ie: no phone calls or skype)?
Same as before…run far, run fast.
There are times when you cannot possibly convey what’s in your head by merely typing the words.
Sometimes you need to explain it by making a comparison, or you simply need to start saying things and hope the website designer will be able to understand what you mean.
But, that’s how a lot of crowdsourcing and freelancing sites operate–behind a veil of secrecy where only private messaging through that site is the only form of communication is allowed.
So, definitely go with a company that stands on its own, with an independent website of its own an isn’t constrained by any “rules” of a middleman.
Oh, and no matter how attractive it may be to hire someone at a fraction of the price because they come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or wherever—be very careful!
The time difference will make things even more difficult, and the project may take even longer because of it (not to mention the difficulties the language barrier can cause regardless of how “fluent” in English the person claims to be).
Now, I’m not saying not to work with designers just because they’re in a different country, not in the least.
I’m just saying to think about the logistics and how it will impact your project.
4. Can I quote you on that?
[clickToTweet tweet=”A business that won’t give a written quote or detail the process & timeline it one to avoid.” quote=”A business that won’t give a written quote or detail the process & timeline it one to avoid.”]
It’s of the highest importance that you know exactly how much time and money a website will cost to design.
Never, ever, ever (did I say ever yet?) hire a website design company that doesn’t ask you questions in order to work up a quote.
Flying by the seat of your pants is perfectly fine for an adrenaline junkie but it’s not ok when working with a professional service provider such as a web design firm.
Now, it doesn’t have to be an exact breakdown of each minute of the day.
They don’t need to show you where each penny is going down to the Nth level of an expense summary.
But you should at least be provided with a summary breakdown of expenses and a generalized timeline.
If a firm doesn’t provide you with at least a summarized quote, how on Earth will you know how much the website design project is going to cost you in terms of both time and money?
And how are you going to gauge the process if you don’t don’t which parts should be complete at certain intervals of time?
Then think about this: what happens if the design fails to live up to expectations or promises?
If you don’t have a mock-up or description of the project details, you don’t have any grounds to terminate the relationship.
There are going to be times when a project just doesn’t pan out for whatever reason.
You want to make sure that you have all the support you need to defend yourself again a breach of contract suit or any other legal action taken against you.
5. Website maintenance & support (hello…are you still there?)
Nothing is worse than having something dropped in your lap and being left to fend for yourself.
After you go to the doctor, don’t they follow through by sitting you down and explaining the results and advising you on how to proceed going forward?
When you get your taxes done, doesn’t your tax preparer go over the return with you, and explain things you have questions about after you get a chance to review the return?
A website designer should be no different.
When you contract with a web design company, you should not only get the website, but at the very least some sort of guide on how to work with the site, and support and maintenance package from it as well.
Even if it’s for two weeks or 30 days, they should provide you with ongoing assistance options for the period immediately following the launch.
After all, that initial period after a website launch is most likely when you will find little things that need to be adjusted that you just didn’t think of until users start pointing them out to you (or you start noticing them.
So it’s important to have a little free support right after the launch.
A website is perhaps the most important part of a business or personal brand in the modern internet age.
You want to make sure that the website designer you use to create it is one that will be fair with pricing, let you know up front how much time and money will be invested, will be easy to communicate with, and will support you after delivery.
Don’t jump the gun for the sake of having a website of your own…take the time to find the perfect web design company for you.