Okay, so you have decided to invest in a new website. Firstly good for you! Having a new website built for your company should be an exciting milestone reached and should light the way to a brighter future. But before we get to ahead of ourselves, the hardest decision looms just round the corner… What company shall we trust with potentially thousands of pounds that will guarantee us success.
Choosing the right web design company can be one hell of a stressful process and should not be taken lightly, here at Mash Web Design we have often dealt with companies that have had bad experiences by so called ‘Web Design Companies’ and it important that you do your homework, that you don’t fall into the trap of being conned by unrealistic promises and that you know what other signs to look out for.
Starting the search
I would firstly recommend to any person or business looking for a website or SEO services to first run a web design search on Google. Look at both regional and national based companies and make a shortlist of companies that perk up your interest and attention. Have a good look at their website, does it look modern? Does it ooze class and professionalism? This is a brilliant opportunity for you to test their quality control by looking for simple errors like spelling mistakes or broken links. Chances are if they can’t be bothered to ensure high standards on their own website what chance will you have?
I would then head over to proven review websites and see whether they are firstly listed on the website and then to see how other customers have found their service. It’s probably going to be impossible to find a company without any bad reviews, keep an open mind. One or two bad reviews in the grand scheme of things isn’t a good enough reason to not choose the company, just ensure that the vast majority of customers have found the service satisfactory. Take notes of the bad reviews and ask questions relating to the complaints when you meet the company. This process will usually filter out a range of the poorer companies in your shortlist.
We would recommend you look on the following websites.
National or Local Companies
In theory it shouldn’t make a difference whether the company is a smaller local agency or a larger national based company. But there are certain benefits and negatives to each. Most national web companies offer a cheaper service, however don’t be to shocked if you find you can’t meet your designer because they work in a different country! Most large national based companies will outsource work overseas in order to save costs, this allows them to offer a discounted service. You are also less likely to have a personal experience with the company.
Local web designers often have higher rates but you can often visit their premises and meet the designer. The higher rates are due to the fact they have a smaller selection of clients and not as many staff to deal with the work, this can mean a slightly longer turn around periods for your website but normally it is of a higher quality.
I personally recommend choosing a local web company, you will usually be treated better and have more time dedicated to answering your questions because they value your business.
Portfolio, success stories and arranging a meeting
Your shortlist should slowly be getting smaller, it is now time to study the companies portfolio and to make contact with the agencies. Have a look on their website, what is the standard of their work, do they have projects similar to what you are looking for, and do they have customer testimonials to view. Once you are happy with the standard of work they produce contact the agency and make an appointment. Ensure that they send someone out to see you or that you visit their office, if they want to try and close the sale over the phone I would politely tell them that you have changed your mind. It shocks me that some companies can’t even be bothered to meet their clients before taking the work. If you do visit the companies premises, ask to meet the designers and developers.
This is a great opportunity for you to find out the companies approach, how are they going to achieve the results you require. Ensure they show you similar success stories. It is so important that the agencies are asking your more than just what colours do you want on your website, or do you like full screen background images. The company needs to be taking the business seriously, this isn’t just a design project it has to work, they should be finding out what your companies unique selling points are, how much revenue you need to make from the website, whether you will need SEO. All of this needs to be taken into consideration.
A quick word on SEO
This blog isn’t aimed at choosing an SEO company, but ensure that if you are looking for SEO with your website you take the ‘to good to be true’ promises with a pinch of salt. Simply when it comes to SEO there are no quick fixes, you will not rank for your keywords within a month. Customer are often shocked when they find out that they will need to pay a monthly retainer for up to 9 month without ranking results. Trust me, the company pitching this to you is legit and is much more trustworthy than the company promising instant results.
However, it is important you find out what the company will be doing monthly, link building isn’t all SEO is about any more. You should receive basic content and social social media marketing, as well as part of your budget being invested into Pay Per Click in order to get you a return on investment faster.
Ensure the company supplies you with a web proposal or an action plan as how they plan to ensure the website reaches the goals your a setting. I would personally recommend that you invest in your website being responsive this helps future proof your website and gives you the best possible chance of your visitors to your website buying, enquiring or at least reading what you have to say.
Bespoke Functionality and Making Changes
Make sure any bespoke functionality like calculators are quoted up before you decide to go with the agency, often companies get burnt when they find out that the calculator they briefly mentioned in the initial meeting now costs an additional £2000.
I always recommend running past the web agency what their procedure is for making changes to the future, is their an hourly rate or are small changes done free of charge, this is a good way of ensuring that 9 months down the line you aren’t being held to ransom.
Cheaper is not always better
Take your time making the decision, the cheapest option is not always the best option and usually is a good indicator that the website you will receive will not be of the highest standards. Go with what company you feel gave you the most time, answered your questions and filled you with confidence.
There are a hell of a lot of good agencies out there, however sadly like in every profession there are bas companies to, if you follow the above advice you will most likely end up with the right agency.