How to Choose a Web Design Agency

Are you building a website for your brand or looking to revamp an old site? Choosing what web design agency to hire is the most important decision to make.

A Google search for web design firms in your area can yield dozens, even hundreds of agencies you can work with. Try nationwide and you will get thousands. So how do you narrow down the options and determine the very best firm to entrust with the design and development of your most important digital asset?

By conducting proper due diligence, of course!

In this article, we’ll take a look at the critical factors to consider when selecting an agency to design and build your website.  

The most Important Things to Look for When Choosing a Web Design Agency  

1. Do You Like Their Work?

There’s no better way to assess an agency’s web design and development capabilities, experience, and creativity than by evaluating their portfolio. But don’t just focus on how attractive the sites are.

More importantly, consider the user interface design and the user experience. Start with the agency’s own website. How fast does it load? Does it look appealing and draw you in? Is the layout intuitive and can you find what you’re looking for without much trouble?

Next, navigate to their portfolio page but don’t stop at the screenshots of sites they’ve completed. Make sure you visit the websites and take the time to browse though them. Here are some things to pay attention to when reviewing their past projects:

  • Are they attractive websites that make a strong first impression?
  • Do their websites load fast or take their sweet time?
  • Are the websites custom designed or based on pre-built themes?
  • Are the designs intuitive and can you find what you’re looking for easily?
  • Do the websites display well on both desktop and mobile devices?
  • Do some of the sites have the features and functionality you’re looking for and are they well executed?
  • Do the websites rank well and get found? You can check stats on websites such as Alexa.

2. Do they Have Relevant Experience?

What kind of experience the web design agency has is also an important consideration when deciding what agency will handle your web design project. What skills and experiences do the team members bring to the table?

Does the web design agency have experience building websites for businesses in your industry. If so, you can rest assured they can build something effective and appealing to your target audience.

Do they have experience in a wide range of business sizes, including local, national, and international brands? A diverse experience shows that the agency knows how to create websites to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

3. What Services Do They Offer?

Creating an online presence entails so much more than just coming up with the design and building the website. It also encompasses branding, search engine optimization, digital marketing, lead generation, and conversion optimization.

A good web design agency understands all these aspects and can address them. Ideally, they will have done work in these areas and can show work to prove it. This should give you confidence that the firm understands everything that goes into creating a website that’s an effective marketing, and sales tool.

When you open a web design agency’s website, it’s therefore smart to check the services offered first. If the firm doesn’t offer what you’re looking for, you can skip to the next web design services provider. If you find what you’re looking for, you can keep browsing to learn more about that particular agency.

4. What Technologies Do They Specialize In?

While checking the services offered, pay attention to the technologies they support. Can the firm build your website on an intuitive content management system (CMS) and customize it to your unique needs?

Popular open source CMS platforms include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. With these systems, you will be able to add and edit the content on your website on your own, even without knowing HTML and CSS.

Additionally, find out whether you will be able to integrate the website with third party platforms such as online payment tools.

5. Do They Follow Modern Web Design Trends and Best Practices

The digital world is ever evolving. You need a web design firm that stays on top of the latest developments and incorporates current best practices in their web design projects.

You can tell whether the agency is committed to keeping up with the trends in web development by taking a look at the websites they’ve built. Do the sites look fresh and attractive or cheap and outdated?

Do they create insightful articles on the industry and present at conferences? Do their content marketing and lead generation efforts speak for their up to date knowledge of the latest developments in web development?

6. Do They Know SEO and Digital Marketing?

Beyond communicating what your brand is all about, your website is the pinnacle of your digital marketing efforts. The ultimate goal is to convert leads into customers and drive sales. It takes more than a pretty design to create an effective website that achieves this goal.

You need a web designer that knows not just web design but also understands search engine marketing (SEO), digital marketing, and lead generation and conversion. Such a web designer can create a website that works well with the search engines, social media, and other elements.

A credible way to gauge the agency’s knowledge of marketing is to look at their own website. How do they market their services to potential clients? Do they make use of SEO optimized website content and articles? Do their digital marketing strategies attest to their expertise in the field?

Do they make use of social media marketing to connect with both potential and existing clients? Take a look at their social media pages to see how they brand and market themselves.

Also look out for any case studies with facts and figures showing how their designs and strategies improve site speed, increase visitor numbers and retention rates, and improve conversions and sales.

7. Do They Follow A Strategic and Thoughtful Process?

It’s also important to understand how the agency will handle the design and development of your website. Knowing how a web design agency goes about designing and developing a website goes a long way in helping you decide whether they are the right fit for your business.

Does the agency have in place a strategic process they follow when designing websites and can they articulate their approach from start to finish? Learn what each stage entails and what kind of role you will play at each stage.

Do they take a tailored approach to each client. Do they thoroughly test websites before going live? Upon learning their process, are you assured that they can deliver what you’re looking for successfully?

8. Do They Provide A Timeline?

Web design and development is a complex project with the potential to stretch for longer than anticipated. It’s always a good idea to ask for a timeline, especially if you’ve a deadline for the launch of the site.

Having a timeline from the get go let’s you know what to expect so you can decide whether the agency will meet your needs. So, find out whether they offer a timeline and what the timeline looks like so you have the right expectation before you commit.

9. What is the Cost and What’s Included in the Price?

Price is of course an important thing to consider when deciding what web design firm to hire. You probably already have a budget range in mind. But can the firm deliver what you’re looking for at the available budget?

A quality custom designed site doesn’t come cheap but neither should it cost you an arm and a leg. Be prepared to shell out at least $5,000 for a custom website designed to suit your business and target audience and hand coded for superior performance.

You also want to get the most bang for your buck so consider what you’re getting for the price as well. To clear any misunderstanding, seek clarification on the following:

  • What services does the quoted rice cover?
  • What features and functionalities will the website have?
  • How much do they charge for extra work not included in the package? For example, website content copywriting.
  • Do they provide lifetime support and maintenance and how do they charge for this?
  • What are the payment terms?

10. What Do The Testimonials and Reviews Say?

So far, you’ve vetted the skills and experience of the web design agency you’re considering. Now, it’s time to find out how it’s like to work with them. The best way to learn whether a web design agency delivers on its promises is from other people’s experiences.

Reading reviews and testimonials can give you plenty of insight into the professionalism and reliability of the web design agency. It’s also a great way to establish the credibility of an agency before you entrust them with the task and pay for their services. The last thing you want is to have them disappear on you once you’ve made the first payment.

But don’t just rely on the glowing testimonials featured on the agency’s website. Look for reviews on third party sites such as Google My Business, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Clutch, Trust Pilot, and Facebook. You can even contact past clients to hear their experiences first hand.

11. Is The Agency Responsive?

You want a reliable web design agency that responds in a timely and satisfactory manner. If you send an inquiry, how fast do they respond. This is a reliable indicator of the kind of customer service you can expect from them.

When you tell them about your project, do they have great ideas on how to bring your vision into life? Do they ask smart questions and offer great insights about the project?

12. Do You Like the People Behind the Agency?

Last but not least, don’t overlook the importance of a good cultural rapport. You’ve ascertained that the web design agency is capable of delivering the kind of website you’ve in mind and that other people have had a good experience with the firm. But will you have a good experience working with the agency?

Look for an agency that fits your company’s personality. After all, you’re going to be working together for weeks or months and even beyond that for support and maintenance. 

You can find out whether there’s good chemistry between you and the agency by simply getting in touch. Whether via a phone call, email, video call, or an in person visit to the agency’s premises, you will be able to learn the personality and style of the people you’ll be working with.

As you interact with the people behind the agency, pay attention to the following:

  • What kind of vibe do you get? Are the people representing the agency friendly and accessible?
  • Do they listen to your ideas patiently and ask intelligent questions about your brand and project? Or do they launch into a hard sales pitch in a bid to get your business?
  • Check out their social media pages? Do they come out as professional but also fun? Or do they come off as cold and impersonal.

Trust your gut. It doesn’t matter how good a web design agency is if you don’t like working with them. If your personalities and approaches crash and you can’t seem to see eye to eye on most things, move on to the next agency on the list.

If the agency’s personality and working style matches that of your business and all the other factors we’ve covered are great, then you’ve found the right web design agency for you.

That’s A Wrap

As you can see, finding the best web design firm for your project takes quite some work. But this due diligence is absolutely worth it in order to choose a credible and well-established web design agency with a demonstrated expertise in web design and related skills

It ensures you will be happy with the relationship you’ll have with the agency, the web design process, and the website you’ll end up with.

In short, the important things to look for in a great web design partner can be summarized into services offered, experience, reputation, and agency culture. These considerations can give you insight into how the web design agency works and help you gauge whether they can handle your project to satisfaction.

Now that you know what to look for in a web design agency, it’s time to start looking for the best web design firm so you can reap all the benefits of having a high-quality and optimized website!

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