It’s hard to imagine a business these days that doesn’t have a website. When someone is looking for a product or service, they no longer thumb through the phone book, they turn to Google. When they pick up their phone to ask their friends for recommendations they don’t make calls, they head to social media. With the majority of shoppers turning to the internet to research products and services before buying it’s clear that your website is your business’ most prized asset.
So who do you trust to build this crucial presence for your business? There are thousands of website designers vying for your business, each with their own speciality, style and skill level. Use the following checklist to help you find the right website design company to help you build your brand online.
View their Website Design Portfolio
A website designer’s portfolio can tell you a lot about their style, as well as their experience creating different types of websites for various businesses. Consider the look and function of all websites in their portfolio. Do they create websites that are mobile-ready? Can they provide a great eCommerce website? Is their style fun and colourful, or slick and corporate? Does their portfolio showcase a wide variety of types of web design across a range of industries, or do they specialise in a particular niche?
How good is their communication?
Pay attention to three key things when contacting any web designer:
- How easy is it to get in touch with them? Whether you prefer to discus your website via email, phone, Skype or online chat you should be able to find accurate contact details on their site.
- How long does it take them to respond? Everyone’s definition of how much time is “too long” to wait for a response will be different, but if the length of time it takes them to respond to your initial query falls outside of your own personal limit then don’t assume this will change when you start working together!
- Is their response professional and personal? If someone can’t be bothered to put the effort into an email, it doesn’t bode well for their work ethic concerning your website. Poorly written sentences, too much informal language or slang, or a blatant ignorance of the contents of your message are all warning signs that future communication could be frustrating.
Get real testimonials
I’m not just talking about reading their testimonials page. Go the extra mile for your peace of mind and to ensure you make the right choice. Ask for previous customer contact details, or reach out to companies who are featured in the website designer’s portfolio to ask for their honest feedback about their experience working with them. An experienced, professional website design company should have no trouble in providing you with plenty of positive reviews from their clients.
Do they seem interested in your business?
They should! A website designer needs to know about your business in order to create a site that meets your needs, and the needs of your customer. Their questions should cover both the look and functionality of your site as well as finding out how “hands on” you want to be in updating and maintaining it.
Outline workflow, deliverables and deadlines
Both you and your website designer should be clear, and in agreement, about the schedule for the creation of your website. The last thing you want is to spend six months worrying about your website and chasing your designer for updates. Find out if you will be able to see sketches or drafts of the website design and request changes before it is finalised, decide on milestones for each stage in the process, and ask about any project management tools used to help make collaboration and communication easier.
Most importantly, take your time to shop around and do your research before committing to a website designer. Choose someone whose abilities you are confident in and you are comfortable working with – having a website designer who you can call upon for changes, updates and fixes is a huge benefit to any small business. For a great outline of what makes a great website check out this article: The 11 Essentials of a Successful Website Design.