Your business needs a new website. An established organisation might seek to refresh its online presence or a new business might want to create a great first impression. Eitherway, a professionally designed website with excellent user-functionality is essential. Below, I explain how you go about choosing the perfect web design partner.
A successful website is more than a shop window or catalogue of goods or brochure of services – it provides an invaluable communication tool for you and your customers. A well designed website (built by professionals) will generate leads, build your brand and increase online traffic and therefore sales. A poorly designed website (built by cut-price cock-up artists) will tarnish your reputation, discourage new business and drive your customers to your competitors.
How do you go about choosing the perfect web design partner?
So how do you go about choosing the perfect web design partner for you when there are so many web design agencies all vying for your business?
Have a think about the following before starting your next web project:
1. Determine your own requirements, objectives and goals.
Determine your budget and understand what you want your website to achieve. Will it sell your products and services directly? Will it generate leads? Do you wish to build visitor interest and inform your online audience via a blog or news section? To what extent do you need to be able to monitor your website traffic to evaluate who is using your site, what they are using it for and what this means in terms of opportunities for your business?
2. Browse a designer’s portfolio for design style and experience.
A good web design agency will have an excellent client base. Check out the designer’s portfolio and see if they have experience in your field with client companies similar to your own. Look at how their client websites look and function. Are they easy to navigate? Is there differentiation between their client sites to show that each one is a bespoke creation? Can you approach existing clients for a reference to see if they are happy with the service provided and more importantly, if the site is now generating increased business for them?
3. Check the web design process.
A good web design studio will offer a clear and structured breakdown of their web design process, explaining each of the steps from research and development of your target audience and objectives, right through to the design concept, development and website launch. Check if the proposed solution will be future-proof and scalable to ensure it can accommodate growth as time goes on and your company evolves.
4. What additional services are offered?
Can your prospective web designer offer you more than design and build? A good web design agency will have the experience to know what ‘call to action’ features will work best for your target audience. They should also be proactive in developing your website through a tailored online marketing strategy from the moment it is launched. An experienced web partner will work with you to create a truly interactive portal by utilising technologies such as social networking tools including Facebook and Twitter to raise your visibility, and will combine these with a proven Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy to drive new and repeat traffic to the website.
5. Money talks!
When you have narrowed your list of potential partners ask for detailed pricing. Include as much detail as you can on your requirements so as to be able to compare web design quotes. The web company’s response should be timely and should offer a clear outline of their process, price and timetable for the work. Make sure you confirm the terms surrounding website maintenance and any support fees which you could incur over the lifetime of the website. This will give a true picture of the long term cost and will allow you to spot and avoid a potential long term liability.
Look for value for money combined with quality and be aware that the cheapest option may not always be the best one!