10 Things You Must Know When Choosing a Web Design Company
All design firms are not created equal. There are many great designers and agencies out there, but it can be tough to know how to choose a good one. As a business owner, you need to know that you're getting good value for your money, and that your project will be done on time and on budget. Here are a few tips that are sure to save you a lot of time - and possibly some money too.
1) Did they promptly return your calls?
Were they responsive to your phone calls and e-mails, or did it take them four days just to get back to you? If they don't make you a priority before you're even a client, then what will it be like once you sign on the dotted line?
2) Is all the work done here in the U.S.?
Some companies just farm out all their web design work overseas to a series of anonymous sub-contractors. Unfortunately, quality can suffer in these situations. A lot of details can get lost in translation with someone who may not be a native English speaker and has an eight-hour time zone difference. Also, if worse comes to worst, how do you hold someone legally accountable who lives halfway around the world and isn't subject to U.S. contract law?
3) Do they understand marketing, advertising, and design, or just coding and programming?
A lot of people think that because you use a computer to look at a website, that means you should get a computer guy to create it for you. Well, you wouldn't have your computer repair guy write your TV commercial, so why would you have him “design” your company's most important advertising piece? That's right, your website is an advertising piece like a business card, brochure, or magazine ad. If done well, it can be the most effective marketing tool at your disposal. If done poorly, it's just a waste of time and money. Many computer programmers understand the nuts and bolts about how to build a website, but that's not enough. You need someone who understands branding, marketing, and consumer psychology. They can create a website that effectively communicates a well-crafted marketing message and reaches your target audience. Unfortunately, that idea probably isn't covered in PHP for Dummies.
4) Do they meet deadlines and stay on budget?
Even if a company quotes you a great price and promises you the moon, that won't mean much if they finish your project six months late and 50% over budget.
5) Will you get to work with the actual designers building your site, or will you be forced to work through an account rep?
Will you just be another number in a giant web design firm, or will your project get the close, personal attention to detail that your business deserves? Customer service matters when you're building a website, a business brand, or even just a business card. Often, large web design firms are in such a hurry to crank out as many sites as humanly possible that they don't want you in direct contact with the people actually building your site. Instead they make you go through a middleman called an account rep. While not all account reps are bad, often they don't know much about websites, how they work, or what they're really capable of doing. This isn't a very efficient workflow, and it can lead to a lot of frustratio
6) Will they be here to support you in the future?
If the web design firm is just some fly-by-night operation trying to make a quick buck, then there's a good chance they might not even be around six months from now. What happens when you need to make some updates to your website? Try to choose an experienced professional with a track record of success.
7) Do stand behind their work or offer any type of guarantee?
You want to find a company that is looking to build a long-term relationship with your business. A website is an ongoing project, and you'll need someone you can rely on for ongoing support and changes. After all, what if there are problems with the site? Someone who's impossible to get a hold of, or never returns your calls, won't be the best choice.
8) Do they offer hosting and e-mail?
It's much easier to have everything in one place than to hunt around and try to save a few bucks on hosting. If your web design company is any good, they'll be able to help you find a great hosting company or even host it for you. Having your design company host your site can be a great choice if they have their own dedicated servers in a secure data center. Many design firms only host sites they build and will be able to provide hosting that's specifically tailored to your website's needs.
8) How much experience do they have?
You probably wouldn't want to have your appendix taken out by a doctor who's never actually performed the surgery before. The same principle applies to creating your business website. After all, this is your single most important marketing piece, and it needs to be done right by a confident, experienced professional. So ask to see samples of other websites that they've created, and ask how long they've been in business.
10) Quality results are worth the price.
Building a website is a lot like getting a haircut. Sure you can do it yourself, but you probably won't be very happy with the results. Also, you wouldn't ask your next-door neighbor's 10-year-old son to cut your hair, so don't ask him to build your website. It's worth spending the money on an experienced professional to get the kind of results that can actually help grow your business.
At Scottsdale Website Design, we stand behind every project we do. If something's not right, we'll work with you to make it better.