The time has come. Your once-impressive website is looking weary, a refresh is required. But how do you choose a web design company and what questions do you ask a web designer before hiring?
Your website redesign process needn’t be overwhelming. The first step is to find the right agency to suit all your needs. And this means research.
Ask these ten questions at the beginning of your web designer hunt and you’ll discover the perfect digital partner.
1. What Type of Website Does Your Business Need?
Knowing what style of website you need will help to shorten your shortlist. Learning the lingo will allow you to research and eventually approach agencies armed with a basic brief.
Want to showcase your business’ services and background with a blog and news section? A brochure website is the one for you.
Are you selling online? Then opt for an ecommerce/online shop website which can accept payments and allows you to control orders, invoices and shipping.
Need to incorporate a booking, purchasing or workflow process? A custom development website will help to create efficiencies and increase revenue.
Whichever one you go for, it’s vital that it’s mobile-responsive and has a content management system that allows you to make changes or add any extras yourself.
2. How Do You Search for Agencies?
Now you can begin looking for possible candidates to take on your project. There are thousands to choose from so get your pen and paper out and prepare to write a good old-fashioned pros and cons list.
Start your shortlist with any personal, relevant recommendations and then turn to Google. Be as specific as you can – simply typing “web design company” will give you over 140,000,000 results ...
Pick several from your nearest town and nearest city which rank highly or appear as adverts at the top of the search page.
Study their own websites as well as those they’ve created for clients. Are they thoughtfully-designed, easy-to-navigate, bursting with compelling content? Can you find what you’re looking for in just three clicks?
If you’ve left their site with a good impression, add them to the list.
3. What Type of Work Do They Do?
Another question to ask a web designer before hiring them is what type of work have they already successfully completed?
Look carefully at each agency’s portfolio. Do they specialise? Are they showcasing their versatility? Have they completed similar projects to yours? Do they confidently display their achievements?
Once you’ve spotted a project you like and which relates to your own, ask the agency how it was delivered and request feedback from the client.
You want your website redesign project to be a smooth process resulting in a dynamic and unique site. Your brand and business have to stand out, so choose wisely.
4. Are They Thinking “Mobile”?
Professional agencies future-proof all their projects by designing for mobile users first, desktop use second. The ever-growing switch to on-the-go logging on makes this a necessity.
Check out some of their clients’ sites on your smartphone and tablet to see how mobile-responsive they are. Are they as easy to use, or even easier, than the desktop version? Do they fit the screen size seamlessly and work intuitively?
5. Do They Create Project Proposals?
You’re well on your way to understanding how to choose a web design company. Now it’s time for the agencies to do some work.
You want to see a comprehensive project proposal from each of the contenders on your shortlist.
This should be a detailed document covering everything from the names of the people you’ll be working with to the key timeline and milestones. You also need to see a break-down of current and future costs, who owns the files and design, and if they provide a back-up service.
The quality of these proposals – as well as the quoted price – needs to be carefully factored into your final decision.
6. How Do They Manage Projects?
You’ll be working closely with your agency so you want the relationship to be strong and well-organised to ensure success.
Ask if they use a project management system to keep track of all relevant data and emails. This not only makes knowledge-sharing easier, it also provides full transparency and accountability.
Find out which member of the team you’ll be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. What is their role? How experienced are they? Which other projects have they worked on?
7. How Big Are They?
If you want to work directly with the designer and developer, it’s wise to choose a smaller agency who can provide that personal two-way relationship.
Opt for an agency with more than around 14 employees and you might find your chief contact is an account handler who then liaises with the digital team.
A more hands-on approach, communicating directly with the designer, can often lead to a more cohesive and productive project.
8. Can They Provide References or Contacts for Happy Clients?
It’s all well and good reading glowing reviews on an agency’s website but you need to dig deeper.
So ask for references and speak directly to their clients. This will give you a true picture of how the agency operates. You can find out how smoothly the project really went, warts and all.
Taking the time to chat like this could be very revealing and shed light on how to choose a web design company.
9. Will They Challenge You?
Any agency worth its salt will look at your brief and fire questions back at you. If they don’t ask for answers, beware.
An agency with an opinion is usually an agency with a strategy. They should want to know more, challenge your thought processes, explore your business thoroughly and rise to the challenge.
10. Will They Help You Plan for The Future?
A good digital agency shouldn’t just design your website and then disappear. This is only the start of the journey.
Working together, you’ll need to create a long-term strategy for marketing your website with clear goals in mind.
They also need to be on-hand to make ongoing tweaks and changes to your site if you prefer to outsource this task.
So now you know what questions to ask a web designer before hiring them, your research can begin.
Get a helping hand with Red-Fern’s detailed guide to how to choose a web design company and checklist for a successful project.
Choose wisely and you’ll have the ideal supplier on-board who’ll work hard to make your business prosper in the digital world.