Do you know what to look for in a web design agency?
If you’re not sure you do, you aren’t alone. Although hundreds of new websites are added to the internet every day, not many of them are made by top web design agencies. As a result, they don’t produce the results they could be getting.
Too often, businesses sell themselves short by settling for badly designed, low-quality websites. Either they don’t know how to identify a good web design company or they try to get away with using a cheap DIY website builder.
You don’t want that to happen to your business or project. But when you need to get an online presence, who can you count on to do it right?
The good news is, identifying a web design firm worth their salt isn’t difficult once you know what to look for. There are plenty of web design experts available to work for your organization. You just have to know where to look.
This article will explain how to choose the right web design agency for you. Keep reading to find out what you need to look for in web design professionals.
Identify Your Needs and Priorities Up-Front
As with most things, the “best web design agency” is at least partly subjective. The “best” agency for your business is going to be whatever one offers the unique services and support you need. It means something different for different brands.
In order to find the best website company for you, you’ve got to first define what your needs and priorities are. If you don’t, you could compare options and sift through information for months with no clear idea of what to look for.
A good way to start is by making a list of everything you want your new site to feature or accomplish. Actually, it’s a good idea to have two lists—one with things you simply must have, and another with things it’d be nice to have.
When it comes to the basics, all websites need some of the same things. You’ll want a site that’s beautiful as well as functional so that people will enjoy visiting it. You’ll need it to be user-friendly, with straightforward navigation.
User privacy and security are major priorities for business websites. Your site will need an SSL certificate and HTTPS protocol. Also, any online forms on your site must be secure (and HIPPA compliant if you’re in the healthcare industry).
Your website should also have search engine optimized content and be set up to generate leads. This is a good idea even if you don’t intend to rely on SEO or email marketing specifically.
Finally, anything else you add to your lists is up to you. You might need your site integrated with a content management or digital marketing platforms. Nonprofits will want to accept donations, and stores will need eCommerce functionality.
Make these two lists now before you go on.
Look for Agencies That Offer What You Need
Now that you have two detailed lists of what you need (or want) for your website, it’s time to look for web development agencies that meet your criteria.
At this stage, you’ll want to consider whether it will be important to work with an agency that specializes in websites for your field or niche. For example, an agency that focuses solely on building sites for healthcare businesses.
It isn’t always necessary to find an agency that specializes in serving a single industry, of course. The important thing is that the agency you choose is great at developing websites. And that’s something that can translate well across industries.
You may feel inclined to work with an agency that’s based in or near your local area. While it’s always nice to support local organizations, keep in mind that your results are what count. The best services are often found far from home.
With that said, don’t be afraid to compare web design firms from around your country. You can even go international and compare top firms from different countries.
Apps like Zoom make it easy to communicate with people anywhere, so don’t feel like you need to find someone close to home.
EB Pearls is one agency you should consider as you make your final decision, especially if you’ll need eCommerce or app development services eventually. You can learn more about our services here.
Review Experience and Portfolios
At this point, you should have at least one agency in mind. But before you make any final decisions, you’ll want to review some things.
Specifically, you’ll want to learn about the agency’s experience, previous work, and company culture.
Experience is divided into two things: how long they’ve been in business and whether they’ve built the kind of websites you need.
It’s usually best if the web design agency you work with has been in business for a long time. It’s also not a bad idea to work with an agency that has built websites for businesses like yours before.
At the very least, you should be able to look at past sites the agency has built and be impressed. This is where a review of the company’s portfolio becomes important.
Outside of looking at their credentials, the best way to assess a web designer’s skills is by looking at their past work. Any agency you’re considering should have a sizable portfolio available to review so you can get an idea of their skills.
Keep in mind that you’re looking for more than just some pretty websites. Although aesthetics are important, what’s most important is ease of use. Make sure the websites you visit are easy to navigate and well laid-out.
Last, company culture is slightly more ambiguous than portfolios and credentials. But it’s still something to keep in mind, especially if you plan on partnering with this agency for a long time.
Basically, you need to ask yourself: does this agency have a culture and brand that aligns with our values as a business? Look at their own website and social media and see if they seem like a company that would work well with yours.
Compare Client Testimonials and Reviews
By now, you’re nearly finished vetting your options and choosing a web design agency to partner with. There are only a couple more steps in the process, starting with checking their testimonials and reviews.
You’ll have already looked at the agency’s portfolio and assessed its company culture. That should have told you a lot about what they can do and how they work.
Now, you’ll be putting your conclusions to the test by comparing them to what others have had to say.
The agency might have a list of past clients with testimonials on its own website. This isn’t a bad place to start, especially if you’re able to get in touch with some of their clients for references.
But to get a truly objective, accurate idea of an agency’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll want to look at reviews hosted on other platforms. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, and even Google feature customer reviews for most established businesses.
Do some digging and see what you can find. If the agency in question has mostly positive ratings and glowing testimonials, that’s a good sign that it’s safe to go ahead with them.
Don’t be too alarmed if you notice some negative reviews, however. When you do come across negative feedback, try to assess what it all has in common. It’s possible the agency doesn’t work as well with certain kinds of organizations.
Ideally, you’ll find favourable reviews and testimonials from businesses that are highly similar to yours. That will be a strong indication that your company and the web design agency should work well together.
Know the Right Questions to Ask
So far, you’ve done all the necessary research that it’s possible to do on your own. You’ve identified your business’s needs, compared these needs with possible agencies to work with, and investigated one or more of them.
Now, it’s time to get in touch with an agency of your choice to ask some questions directly.
When it comes to knowing what questions to ask, it will be more or less up to you. It will largely depend on what kind of website you need and what personal concerns you have. You may also want to ask any questions that came up while reading reviews.
But no matter what personal concerns or specific questions you have, there are some general questions you should also keep in mind to ask. We’ll go over a few of them here.
Who Will Own the Website?
This may not be an obvious question to ask, but it’s an important one. The fact is, not all web development agencies sell complete websites that their clients simply own the rights to afterwards. Instead, they may “rent out” sites they build.
There are some different reasons why this might be the case with the agency you’re vetting. There might be certain content or resources they like to use in their sites that they own the rights to, and would take with them if they ever left.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing if the agency you work with technically owns the site they build for you. It should result in a lower up-front cost, and there could be additional maintenance or support included.
But depending on how much control you prefer your business to have over its finished site, this may or may not sit well with you.
Do You Provide Ongoing Support and Maintenance?
Some web developers move on after building the entire site for a client. If you want any updates or modifications made to the site, you may have to hire them again or get an in-house developer.
Other agencies work with businesses on a contract basis, staying with them to help update and support the site for as long as their contract lasts.
Unless you have capable IT staff with experience in web development and security, it’s usually best to choose an agency that will provide ongoing support.
Can I Move to Another Hosting Company Later On?
Many website agencies host the sites they build for their clients on their own servers. This can be a convenient and cost-effective option, but you’ll want to be sure you can leave and take your website with you if need be.
If you ever want to part ways, a good agency will help migrate your website to a new web host or server. At the very least, they should grant you database and FTP access so you can move it yourself.
Get Online With the Best Web Design Agency Today
By now, you know what to look for in a great web design agency. With this information, you should now be equipped to locate and identify a design firm you can trust.
As you weigh your options, we suggest you consider EB Pearls as your partner in getting your business online. Whether you need a basic but effective website, a high-converting eCommerce store, or options for a future mobile app, we’ve got you covered.
If that sounds like what you need and you like the idea of working with an award-winning agency, learn more and get in touch today.