Think of a web design firm as your marketing partner. The website it designs for your business will play an integral role in your company achieving its online marketing goals. Whether having a website designed brand new for the first time or redesigning an existing one, the hiring decision you make will dictate your website success.
With so many options of web design companies, both online and local, it can become overwhelming determining which one is the right fit for your business. The best approach is to use a thorough hiring process. Kenneth Sytian, a Web Design Philippines company CEO, compares the process similar to hiring a new employee. “Choosing a web design firm takes interviewing, reviewing performance results, requesting a portfolio of their work and checking references.”
The initial consultation also gives the company a chance to ask questions and get to know your business, your target audience and the objectives for the website so it can apply its expertise in developing a plan to help you achieve your online business goals.
Once you do your due diligence, the answer will become clear as to which website design firm to entrust the success of your business to with this all-important website design project.
- What services do you offer?
In addition to all facets of website design, many web design companies offer web development, hosting, copywriting, e-commerce solutions, and digital marketing services such as social media, SEO, or PPC management. While it’s very common to assume all of these services are related, they are, in fact, very different services requiring very different skill sets.
Do not assume that a company is good at one thing just because they offer another. Almost every web design company on Earth now offers digital marketing services as well; it doesn’t mean they really know their stuff so don’t make that assumption. It’s great to have one company handle most or all of your digital work, but it’s more important to get a solid result.
- Do you custom design websites or use pre-made templates?
Often times, web design companies offer both options to meet the needs of their clients. Some businesses want to establish a strong brand, so they want the unique look and functionality a website designed from scratch provides. Other businesses are not that reliant on an online presence and opt to save money with a template that can be customized. Discuss your website needs and ask for a price comparison of the two before making your decision.
- Can you provide examples of websites that your company designed?
Looking at the design style of these sites will help you evaluate the design diversity of the firm. Also note the performance of the sites, whether the navigation is easy to use, if the websites are well-crafted, if the designs are current and modern, and how well the design matches the business style. Ask questions. Find out why things were done the way they were. You may think an example site looks too simple only to find out that was exactly what the client needed.
- Do you have case studies that show the results your web designs provided for businesses?
A website is not just about having an online presence with a site that looks good. It’s about getting a return on investment and having that website deliver business results. Ask for case studies. These case studies should provide specific results, such as increased online sales by a certain percentage, increased leads by a certain amount, or boosted the conversion rate by a certain percentage in a specific time period.
- Will you review my current website and analyze its performance before making your design decisions?
If you have an existing website, not all pages may need a redesign, especially if they are hitting high performance marks. Find out if the web design firm plans to analyze your current site’s metrics to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses before implemented any design changes.
- What is your policy regarding building websites for my competitors?
This can be a good or bad thing. For example, if a company has designed websites in the past similar to yours, they may have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. That said, you don’t want a clear conflict of interest. This is a good question to ask and to use in your evaluation process, but I wouldn’t rule someone out entirely if they built a website last year in the same industry but don’t have an ongoing relationship with that client.
- How will my project be managed?
Typically, a website design process includes four stages: strategy/research, design, site development, and launch and evaluate. When learning about the project management process of a web design firm, ask whether there will be a specific manager or contact person for your project, a timeline for the different stages, the manner in which you will receive progress reports and whether a project management system is used to manage tasks.
- Who will be working on my website?
Some web design companies may devote one person or a team of individuals to your project, depending on the scope of the work you want performed. For example, you could have a graphic designer, programmer and copywriter working on your website. Knowing who will be working on which components of your project is important for understanding how your project will be managed.
- What are the qualifications of those working on my project?
It’s important to know the scope of experience of the person or team working on your project. Feel free to ask for samples of other websites they have done, discuss the expertise they have in web design and development tools, and request client references. The portfolio and references should be updated with the most current work.
- How long will it take to complete my website?
Typically, the turnaround time for a website design is based on the scope of the work required and how quickly you provide them with needed information, such as text. But you should ask how much time the firm will be devoting to your project and its average turnaround time if they have all the content. It’s also worth discussing what happens if they don’t meet their target date.
- How much input will I have with my website design?
During your initial consultation, a web design firm should ask you questions to get a feel for your business, the tone and style you want to portray, and the types of web design styles you like. This will give the designer an idea of the type of aesthetics you’re looking for in terms of site components and provide strategic information as to the purpose of your new site, your target audience and the content it should contain. Most firms work hand-in-hand with its clients to be certain they are providing them with the type of website they desire.
- What happens if I don’t like the initial design?
Generally, initial project agreements call for either unlimited changes or a certain number of revisions. Others have multiple sign-offs on proposed colors, design layout, images and type fonts so you have an idea what the end design will look like. It’s important to review the process and the policy for changes with the design firm.
- What do you need from me to get started?
Typically, you need to provide any images, text, or other content you want on your site. If you choose to have the text done by the firm’s copywriters, you’ll need to provide basic information. If you provide your own copy, it may need a few tweaks for better search engine optimization or design presentation. Whatever the case may be, you should be notified in advance of any revisions needed to your copy and why they are needed.
- Can you create a logo for my site?
Most website designers can create a logo for your business as part of your initial project quote or for an additional fee. Ask about experience in this area and look at other logos the firm has created, paying particular attention to graphic appeal, how well the style matches the focus of the business and how well the logo establishes brand identity.
- I already have an established brand, will my website provide a consistent look?
For companies with an established brand, you want to be certain the website development firm creating your new website has experience in maintaining brand consistency. Ask how they approach such projects and what steps they will take to ensure the web design is in line with your current marketing strategies.
- How do you price your services?
The pricing structure of web design varies among companies, so ask whether a flat project price or hourly rate is used. Keep in mind that price is based on experience, expertise and the scope of the project. The pricing should be in line with the quality of the firm’s work, which will reflect in how they value your brand and the importance of its online presence.
It’s also important to know exactly what you’re paying for when given a project quote. Ask for an itemized list of deliverables that are included in the price and ask what isn’t included. For example, some firms offer hosting or maintenance that is not included in the initial project’s price.
- Will my website be compatible with smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices?
Mobile websites are a must for businesses with an online presence. Find out how the web design firm approaches the mobile component of web design. For instance, a responsive design may be used to accommodate all visitors, whether accessing it from a desktop computer or a mobile device. Or, a separate mobile site may be included as part of the initial website design. The important factor to determine is the breadth of experience the web design company has in developing mobile applications and the reasoning behind the approach it takes.
- Do you offer on-going maintenance after my site goes live?
As technology and trends change, you may want to have additional web design and development work done on your website. This could include updating content or updating compatibility with browser changes. Ask the web design firm if they offer maintenance services and if they are provided on an as-needed, on-going, or retainer arrangement. Find out what the prices are to update content, and make minor and major edits.
- How do you measure results after the site goes live?
Your relationship with the web design company should not end once your site goes live. The firm should measure the results of its web design. You might hear terms like page views, unique visits, time on site, bounce rate, conversion rate, inbound links, search engine ranking, etc. Ask how this is done in terms of analytic tools and what numbers or benchmarks you should expect your website to produce. Find out how often you are provided with these statistics and the procedure for improving any that don’t meet performance marks.
- Will I be able to access my website statistics without contacting you?
Web design businesses use various analytics to monitor the performance of websites. They should be willing to provide you with access to this interface. Ask about obtaining a password so you can view your website statistics online at any time.
Your new website design should be a reflection of your strategic business goals. It’s important that the web design and development company you select is on board to help you achieve them. Taking the time to ask far-reaching questions before hiring a web design firm will ensure you retain a results-oriented partner that will help you achieve tangible results that translate into a measurable return on your website investment.