We all know that having a good website is essential to operating a successful business in today’s world. In most cases, the website does more than just act as a gateway to the physical business. It offers an opportunity for consumers to get to know the business, its brand, and its people.
However, a website is only as good as the creative forces behind its development. That’s why it’s important to consider the following factors when choosing the right web design firm to create your site.
1. Determine Your Web Design Needs
It’s tempting to start looking for a web design firm without really thinking about your requirements, but your needs will dictate the type of firm you need to hire. For instance, if you plan to sell products directly from your website, you’ll want to make sure your website designers are experienced with providing eCommerce solutions. The best approach is to develop a rough idea of what services your site will offer and seek out design firms experienced in those areas.
2. How Soon Do You Need the Site Up and Running?
If you have plenty of time before you need your site, you might consider hiring a freelance web design professional. Freelancers will be able to give you more personalized service because they often handle just one or two clients at a time. However, the downside to this is that it often takes longer to arrive at the finished product. A larger design firm can give you comparable results in a shorter period of time.
3. Does Your Web Design Firm Outsource Their Services?
It may be worthwhile to ask how work is completed in order to ensure that the design team working on your website is in-house, rather than outsourced to remote workers. If the design team is scattered across multiple time zones, this can slow down the progress on your site. It can also make communication harder. Both of these factors can lead to problems in the design process and flaws in the completed product.
4. Make Sure You Understand the Process
Before hiring any design firm, ask about their creative process. Get an idea of the timelines they work with and how many benchmarks you can expect to see during your website’s creation. This should include a discussion about your expectations for completing the project you have assigned to them.
Waiting indefinitely for work to be completed is frustrating, especially when your business relies on that product. When you have a clearer idea of the creative process, you can know exactly what to expect and when.
5. What Services Are Included?
There are many details that go into designing and creating a website. Sometimes these can be complicated and require many levels of programming. For instance, you want a site that provides a smooth user experience across all platforms, while also incorporating effective SEO features.
If you don’t ask about these services ahead of time, you may end up having to hire a second web design firm to complete your website.
6. Is the Site Going to Be Mobile Compatible?
There’s a reason this issue is so important. The vast majority of internet users today access the web from their tablets and phones. For this reason, Google ranks mobile-capable sites and pages higher than non-mobile compatible sites.
In addition to improving your Google ranking, it’s important to ensure your site is visually attractive and easily navigated on every type of device. That way, all of your visitors see a polished and professional website when they search for your business, no matter what type of system they are using.
7. Does the Content Management System Make Use of Proprietary Software?
The content management system, or CMS, is the software that you’ll use to add or change content to your system. You’ll want to make sure it can be maintained easily and cost-effectively. If the software is open source, this means any IT professional can work with it without difficulty.
However, if it is created on proprietary software, only the distributor or web design firm will have the necessary skills to work on the system, making it more costly to maintain over time. Ask about the software ahead of time to avoid trouble and costs further down the road.
8. Inquire About Customer Service
How will you be treated after your new website is up and running? Does the web design firm you’re considering offer a service warranty? Will they be readily available to you in the future if you need their help?
These are important questions to consider because you don’t want to be left with a broken website overnight or over a weekend. Ask about the level of customer support you can expect to receive and try to get a copy of the firm’s service policies.
9. Discussing Pricing for the Entire Project
You will also want to find out how you’ll be charged for services. Some firms offer one flat fee while others charge by the hour. In some cases, a project may go over the estimated budget unexpectedly, which can be an unpleasant surprise for the client. An in-depth conversation about pricing can help you plan out your project more accurately, so you can keep spending down and the surprises to a minimum.
10. Look at Previous Client Reviews
Even after you have asked all of the questions you can think to ask, you may still be torn between two or three web design firms. How do you narrow your options down to just one? If you’re stuck for a choice, a good idea is to read customer reviews.
You’re certain to find some glowing reviews on their own websites, but try to dig deeper. Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and Google are just a few places to find previous customer reviews that are a little more candid.
In the past, it was enough to simply have a premade website, but those days are long gone. In today’s global marketplace, a poorly crafted website can cost you customers and harm your brand image. Taking the time to hire the right web design firm is an investment that will pay off many times over.
Contact Site Hub today for a review of your business’s website and to find out what you can do to improve your web presence.