Did you know that it takes about 50 milliseconds for people to form an opinion about your website — one that determines whether they will stay to learn more or leave? That’s why you should take the time to research any web design company you are thinking of working with. This is a big decision that will affect your business deeply.
Your website is often the first impression people have of your company. It has a direct effect on the perceived credibility, reputation and professionalism of your business. If you’re handing this task off to a web designer, you want to get it right.
What to look for in a web designer
Here are 7 things you must know that will help you choose the right web design company for your business:
- Marketing skill.
- Web development trends.
- Search engine optimization (SEO).
- Responsiveness and client communication.
- Clear pricing structure.
- Willingness to let you own your website.
There are tons of great web designers out there. Keep reading to learn how to find yours.
1. Marketing skill
First of all, you need to find a web design company that understands marketing concepts and is well-versed in terms such as:
For example, if you want to grow your business, you’ll need to start sending regular emails to customers. And to create an email list, you need to have lead magnets on your website.
Magnets are incentives such as downloads or eBooks that entice visitors to share their email addresses with you.
If your web design company doesn’t understand the importance of having lead magnets on your site, and if you don’t tell them about it, there won’t be any.
Building a website is much more than mere lines of code mixed with a pretty design. Successful websites have a strong marketing strategy behind them, and a reason for every single element on the site.
It is important to make sure that the web design company you want to hire has a portfolio of solid work. You should work with a company that has experience building websites for businesses like yours. By looking at their portfolio, you can see what you can expect from them.
You can also talk to their previous clients and ask about their experience with the company.
For example, if you want to work with GoDaddy, you can be confident that they will do a good job, as they’ve built over 30,000 websites in recent years. Browse some of their design pros’ favourites here.
3. Web development trends
Your web design company has to be on top of the latest web design trends. Whether they choose to build your website with WordPress or another content management system, your site needs to be mobile-friendly as most people will quickly click away from any website that doesn’t work well on mobile.
Your website also has to:
- Load quickly
- Have a modern, appealing design (not that 1995 look)
- Be user-friendly
It’s important to note that 63% of shoppers research and buy products via their mobile phones, and that number is only going to grow in the future.
Investing in a web design company that follows the latest trends is going to pay off in the long run.
4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
If you want to stay in business and survive long-term, you have to be found on Google, and the first line of attack is search engine optimization or SEO. By using the best search optimization practices on your site, your web design company can make sure it keeps bringing your business new clients.
Who cares if your website is beautiful but no one can find it? A lot of people invest in visually-appealing design and neglect search engine optimization. But if Google and other search engines don’t find your website, no one else ever will.
This is why it’s important to work with a web design company that knows how to rank on Google using “white hat” SEO methods that follow Google’s guidelines and improve user experience.
5. Responsiveness and client communication
Make sure to read the contract very carefully before signing with your web design company. You need to know:
- Who will be updating the website (local or overseas contractor)
- How quickly they can implement updates/changes
- Who you can talk to if you have any issues
It is important to set clear deadlines and provide the content (photos, text, contact info, links etc) for your website — unless the web design company is doing that for you too. Many small businesses hire a professional copywriter who specializes in SEO-optimized website text so they don’t have to handle that part. And that takes me to the next point.
6. Clear pricing structure
Make sure to ask about all the hidden fees and costs besides your initial set-up fee. Some companies charge extra for updates and support, and you need to know this before signing a contract with them.
Sometimes a web design company has a list of fees and charges, but they don’t necessarily talk about it with their clients.
To stay within your budget, ask for a detailed list of all possible costs that could be incurred during the process. Also, ask them how they handle updates and changes to the original layout or extra work on your website — how many hours of work are included? What’s the per-hour cost for work over that? If you have a strict budget, you need to let them know.
7. Willingness to let you own your website
Before you make your final choice, you’ll want to discuss where your domain and website will be hosted. I would recommend that you insist on hosting the website and domain with a provider you trust such as GoDaddy.
Some web design agencies may offer to host your domain and website on their server or that of another company they are affiliated with.
This can be a dangerous situation because the web design company could one day be sold to another company or even go under. If that should happen, you would have no control over — and literally no access to — the website that you’ve purchased.
Your domain name and your hosting should be in your name and under your control.
Find a web design company you’ll love
Nowadays it is almost strange for a company not to have a website.
87% of people research a business or service online before making a purchase decision.
Without a website, your business is invisible. So kudos to you for investing in a professional website! With these seven tips, you are all set to choose a website design company that will serve your business for years to come.