It’s the 21st century, online business is booming, and you’re ready to get in on the action by putting a website with your product or services online. You’re looking around for a web design company to get your stuff out there to sell to millions of potential customers.
Deciding to have a website is the easy part – but most people aren’t asking the most important question: how do I choose a good web design company to market my stuff?
The first step is to arrange a face-to-face meeting with your potential web design company. Sure, they’ve advertised their services online, you like what they’re doing, and they look legit – but it’s always best to get a feel for the people behind the sales pitch.
You want to make sure that they’re professionals with experience, and you want to get an idea of their company “personality” and culture, to make sure it’s a good mesh with your own.
You and your business are unique. You have unique needs. A good web design company should be able to approach your needs in the right way. So how do you know what to look for, and what to avoid when it comes to finding a company to handle your web design project?
Here are 5 questions you should be asking the company at your initial meeting , to help you pick the right “web guys”.
1. Show me some websites you’ve built that have the design features I want.
Most web design companies will have a portfolio of jobs they have done for other clients on their site. It’s not always that simple to pinpoint examples of sites that stand out to you, though – sites that tick your own boxes.
Asking the company directly, and getting them to show you, will let you know that they understand YOUR requirements. You can also ask if the site worked well for the other client/s, and what, if any, pitfalls there were on the project.
A really good web designer will have a range of designs to look over and discuss with you – and if they don’t, they should be honest about it, and be open to pushing the envelope for your company.
2. What are your thoughts on user-centred web design?
A professional and experienced web design company will be thrilled that you asked this question – because user-friendly sites are what they live for. After all, in any business, the customer (or in this case, visitor) is king!
Newbies to the design world are often focused on how great their site looks – and they don’t pay enough attention to usability. You don’t want potential customers landing on your website, getting confused and impatient, and pressing the back button. That’s like customers turning around and walking out of a store because the layout is confusing, and they don’t see what they want.
A good web design company will be up-to-date on all the latest ways to make websites user-friendly. Ask them about latest trends and innovations – this is also a good way to let them know that you know your stuff.
3. How will I know what results my website is getting?
If you ask your potential web designer this question, expect to be bombarded with a bunch of technical jargon. Don’t worry, keep calm and take notes – this is the sign that the web company is goal-driven and will set up your site for maximum results.
Don’t be shy to ask the team for explanations for the terms you don’t know. You can expect to hear things like search-engine rankings, page views, unique visits, conversion rate, lead generation, analytics tools, or inbound links. A good web designer should be measuring these things, and should be prepared to show you how to track and measure them as well.
A good web design company will also be able to give you at least a fair idea of the numbers you can expect.
4. I might want to make some changes on my website later on.
Web design companies vary in their approach to this question. Ongoing changes are a bone of contention for a lot of companies – but a good company won’t have a problem with them.
Websites change with time by necessity – you might want to add more products, add new images, or change contact details for example.
Some changes might be pretty technical – such as forms, or animations - and clients are normally charged hourly rates to make these happen. An experienced web designer will rightly charge a sum for these modifications, as they take a lot of time and technical experience.
If the ongoing changes will be fairly small, however, the company should set up a content-management tool on your site so you can do simple changes on your own. They should also offer to show you how to manage the changes free of charge.
5. Can I meet the rest of the guys?
This might not seem like an important question, as you’re probably already talking to the head honcho – but you’ll know by the response whether your site will be built by an in-house team, or whether it will be outsourced.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing if a web design company outsources parts of the job. Sometimes, a company simply has too many projects on the go to handle in-house, and sends them to a reputable partner company with a detailed brief.
Often, companies consist of one guy and a bunch of freelancers who may or may not be specialists in their field. You’re serious about your business and your website – and you want to hire a web designer who is serious about their business as well.
Any reputable web design company will be pleased for you to pop by and say Hi to the team. It’s always good to put a face to a client’s name – and it establishes trust for you to know who’s handling your marketing investment!