Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business looking to expand online or a digital-first company that needs to re-do its brand, you can consider your website the welcome mat to your business.
If your website is outdated, difficult to navigate, or fails to get across your brand’s values, it can easily leave potential customers feeling disconnected. Meanwhile, if it feels cookie-cutter or forgettable, you’ll have nothing to leverage when it comes to building a lasting reputation and fostering customer loyalty.
For all of these reasons, hiring a professional web design agency is a worthy investment. The question is, how can you choose the right one? No matter your budget, timeline, or desired look, here’s some advice to point you in the right direction and help you select a qualified team of professionals that can bring your brand’s website to life.
When it comes time to select a web design agency, you have countless options. One of the quickest ways to narrow down your options to the best is to go through their websites. It’s a bad sign if a web design agency has a website that’s slow, outdated, inconsistent, or just doesn’t speak to you. In other words, this is a situation where you can judge a book by its cover.
After finding your favourite websites, take some time to read through the agency’s list of qualifications. Has it won any awards? Who’s on the team? Are they certified in any design software? While there are plenty of highly talented design agencies that aren’t award-winning, these things can certainly help prove an agency’s reputation and reliability up-front.
Most web design agencies will have a list of their team members so that you can see how long each individual has been in the business. You should also see when the agency was established by checking the “About” section. While you shouldn’t necessarily avoid young talent, experience is valuable.
Lastly, as you try to get a feel for what the agency does, make sure its team is familiar with search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). With countless factors impacting SEO—including speed and clean code—it’s important that your agency doesn’t unknowingly work against your website’s future rankings or performance.
Every web design agency will have a website design portfolio where you can look through some examples of their past work. The best agencies may even have case studies where they’ve interviewed previous clients to have them talk about their experience working with the team.
Even just taking a few minutes to look through the screenshots or links that an agency shares can help you determine the quality of its work. Beyond noting whether or not the examples are up to your standards, you should also consider if any of them match your style.
If you’re going for something entirely different from an agency’s typical projects, the company may not be the right fit. With that said, don’t let a website portfolio on its own throw you off just because you have a different style in mind. If the website agency’s team do great work, it’s still worth reaching out to them to see what they’ll say.
Once you have a list of website agencies that have stayed in your favour after going through their website, team, and portfolio, it’s time to do your due diligence and make sure that working with them is a practical choice.
For example, if you’d prefer to work with an agency in person, you should limit your search to those with an office nearby. It’s up to you how far you’re willing to travel, but checking where the agency is located (or able to travel to) will help you quickly determine if an agency is still under consideration.
On the other hand, if you’re working with a web design agency remotely, location still matters. More specifically, you need to know which time zone the agency works in to make sure that scheduling meetings and progress checks won’t be an inconvenience. While many teams will try to work with your schedule, you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops every time you want to call in.
Beyond location and time zone, you might also consider the size of the agency’s team (smaller teams may not be able to take on a major enterprise project), its general timeline for projects, and its target clientele (which will impact how much the agency charges).
By far, one of the best things you can do when comparing the web design agencies you’re considering is schedule a time to actually talk with the team—either in person or over the phone. When you do, go ahead and give high marks to the team that you resonate with the best.
Aside from being friendly and clear in their communication, the best web design company will have a team who are happy to spend time explaining their services, getting to know your brand, and talking about how they would approach your project.
During this call, you should ask questions pertaining to:
- The timeline and how long they would expect the project to take. In order to provide an accurate estimate, they’ll likely ask what information or pages you want to include, among other things.
- The process for handling requests and revisions. How will the agency handle it if you change your mind about something during the project or if you don’t like how they executed something? Understanding if revisions are included, and to what extent, is critical to staying within budget and getting the results you want.
- The estimated cost and what could change it. Additional customisations and more complex website features will certainly raise the original estimate. Consider if the web design company plans to charge a flat fee or hourly rate for the project, or some combination of the two.
There will be a lot to remember, so even if you think you can keep track of it all, make sure to take notes. This will make it much easier to compare your options after you talk to your favourite website companies.
Following the consultation, you should request a written estimate from each web design company you speak to. Obviously, your budget will be a primary consideration, but you should also think back to which team you melded with the best. Working with people that are happy to listen to you and help build upon your ideas is crucial to a successful web design project that reflects the look you’re really going for.
In addition to great communication, consider the additional services any agency offered to you (for example, help with branding, logo design, or SEO) that you’re interested in. Also factor in the estimated timelines each agency gave you, as it might not be feasible to go with your first choice if the agency is going to take six months or more when the other options can get you a site within two or three.
Ultimately, the final decision is up to you, but by doing your due diligence, you can make sure that you don’t waste time and money with an agency that’s not able to execute your requests with the speed, quality, or reliability that you want.
Are you working on choosing a web design company? Asking the right questions is a critical step to finding the best fit for your brand. Aside from being communicative and creative, the agency’s team should be quick on their feet and dedicated to your satisfaction. For all of those things, you can turn to the team at Engage Digital. When you’re ready to take the first step, request a free website proposal from us, so you can move forward with your website project.