How to Choose a Web Design Firm
Your website has the potential to reach millions of customers who may not have access to your goods or services, so developing an effective website design is critical to your online success. Here are a few tips to help you determine how to choose a web design firm that can provide the services that you need for a successful online business.
Expertise and Reputation
When considering how to choose a website design firm, one important thing to ask for is what their core competencies are. Many web design companies are good in certain aspects of the process but weaker in others. Some focus on the front end of a website, which is called “website design“. While others may be good at the back end programming, often known as “website development”. It is important to ask the size of the team working on your project. Though some individuals can do multiple tasks on a website, it’s better to have multiple individuals with different expertise working on your website. The reason for this is that you’re likely to get higher quality work in each aspect of the process. Most professional companies have a portfolio, and should have their own quality website for you to look at. Be careful of companies or individuals who say they provide website design and development but do not have a high quality website themselves. Evaluate your own specific needs, and then look for a web design firm that can offer the services and skills to provide you with an effective website.
You will also want to assess the firms reputation when learning how to choose website design firm. Look for testimonials on their website, and ask for referrals. Timeliness, process, attention to detail, and the ability to have a collaborative rapport are all important when choosing a firm. If the firm that you are considering doesn’t have any referrals or testimonials, you may want to ask why.
Along with a firms expertise and reputation, you will find that their ability to provide quick, efficient customer support is vital when considering how to choose a web design firm. Ask potential firms what their policy and response times are in handling issues and errors on your website. Another consideration is how you are able to communicate with them. A good firm will have a working phone number, an email address, and may be able to chat on an instant messaging service. If real time communication is important to you, consider working with a local web design firm or at least one in a time zone close to yours.
Often, one of the most important issues when determining how to choose a web design firm is pricing. There are a few old adages about purchasing that remain true in the web design and development world as well… “You get what you pay for” and “If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” A price that is too low may indicate the firm emphasizes quantity over quality, uses pre-built templates and/or outsources your work to overseas vendors. While all of this may be acceptable for your business, you should definitely know what you’re getting into before you hire them. Consider what other services you’re getting for your money. Does the company have hourly breakdowns for the services they’re providing? Do they clearly list the goals and deliverables for your project and say how they plan to accomplish the various technical aspects of your job? Remember that the clearer the agreement in the beginning, the less likely there will be misunderstandings during and after the project. Vague and generalized proposals can only lead to disagreements or you not getting everything you expected for the price.
Web Design Process and Interaction
Working with the web design firm throughout the process will allow you to get a good feel for the firm and their personal skills and knowledge. A professional team will be willing to work with you throughout the length of the project to provide a great website that meets all of your specifications. In addition, great web design firms use their expertise in web design to guide you in making good decisions and establish what ‘best practices’ you should include in your website. When you choose a website design firm, communication is one thing that should be at the top of your list of priorities. It’s important to know whom you’ll be communicating with at the firm, and what their role is on the team. Most reputable web design firms have a project or account manager to help manager the back and forth web design projects require. If a firm doesn’t, or if you’re working with the firm’s owner it will often give you an idea of the size of the firm. Working with smaller web design firms isn’t necessarily a bad thing, actually you are likely to get a more personal level of service, just make sure that they have the necessary expertise available and that it’s not just one person doing everything.