Choosing a web design company is one of the hardest things to do, simply because there’s so many complexities and technicalities when it comes to getting a website built.
Registering your domain, buying SSL certificates, hosting, web standards, databases to what CMS platform to use and everything in between. No wonder business owners make mistakes every day with this. In this article I’m going to give you a few key tips on how you can choose the right web design agency.
My first tip is to shop around. A common problem is for business owners to just go to the first web designer they see or are recommended, and not shop around and compare different web design agencies and work out whether they can build a cohesive relationship and trust that agency.
It’s also about getting the best bang for your buck, however relationship and service is far more important I feel. What I suggest you do is try and look at local web design agencies. I know you could find other highly reputable agencies further afield, however even with all the latest technology there is something special about being able to sit with your supplier, face to face.
Make sure that you’re comparing prices not just on how much is going to cost you however look at the the brief which you’ll I’m being given the quote which have been getting given and work out whether you’re getting a like-for-like comparison on for the prices because it might be that you’ve got to web design agencies giving you the same price however they might be offering a completely different feature set or a completely different content management system.
In order to make that happen easily I’d recommend you go away and actually create the specification document. This allows you, when you get your proposal back from your website design agency, to create a tick list so what are they offering you and make sure you go through each web design agency quote and your specification document and make sure the two match up, and they haven’t missed anything out.
Sometimes it’s one of those situations where it can look too good to be true. If somebody says they’re going to do everything, for a very cheap price, I would just double check it and make sure that what they’re offering is exactly what you’re going to get.
Some specific specifications occur and should outline any problems which you think you might face, as well as any kind of features which you are hoping to also include within your website.
I’d also thoroughly recommend giving your chosen web design agency that once over, to make sure that they have all the right credentials in place. What you don’t want to do is go with somebody who’s just going to go out of business within a couple of months of your website going live.
That situation would leave you in a big mess, because when they go, there could be all sorts of drama afterwards, such as if they’ve registered your domains on your behalf, or if they stop paying for their server because they’ve gone out of business your website will just go down and it’s unlikely that it will be recoverable.
You have got to ensure that you’re checking their credentials thoroughly. Has the web design agency you are speaking to, well established? Have they been around for say, 8 years or more? Well if they have, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be going anywhere soon.
Make sure that they’ve got a high-quality portfolio, and a wide-ranging portfolio. If they have 100-200 clients on their books, it’s likely that they’ve got quite a nice recurring revenue coming in and therefore they’re not going to disappear for quite some time.
Time, quality and cost
If you’re choosing something and basing your decision just on price, then remember the old time, quality and cost triangle.
If you go for the cheapest option, it may not be the best quality or it might take a little bit longer than you’d anticipated. It’s very rare that you can get a great price on anything that is really high quality and done quickly.
Proposal fine print
I’d also look at the detail that they’ve pitched in their proposal. When they come back to you with the pros, don’t forget you’ve created a specification document already. If you look at the detail in their proposal and it’s just a single page, or even worse, a two line thing, it’s going to cost you x dollars, then that doesn’t fill me with the greatest amount of confidence that I would get everything that I’d ask for and within my specification document.
Make sure as well they’ve outlined both the upfront costs for them actually developing the website, and also the ongoing costs. Having a website design it’s a very organic process and it just adds you know the website isn’t just built and then it’s there.
It is extremely likely that you’ll need some support, some hosting and various other bits and pieces adding onto the site. Perhaps also assistance with adding content or additional features down the road, so make sure that they’ve outlined what their ongoing costs are.
They may offer this as monthly support for you, or an annual support fee. It could be that they just outline that there are no support fees however and they have an ad hoc hourly rate which they charge out whenever you have any updates done to your website.
Finally, I highly recommend going back and asking for some testimonials from their existing customers. A good web design agency will have absolutely no problem with supplying you with some testimonials or putting you in touch with their existing customers. See if there are any existing customers in a similar field. For example if you are a Perth business coach, do you want to look at examples of New York plumbing companies? You can then have a quick chat with these existing customers about any problems with that agency, and was it everything as they expected, did they get everything in their proposal?
This allows you to gauge what the working relationship is going to be like moving forward. What you don’t want is to ask for a testimonial or a few references from their existing customers, and then they refuse or become cagey about sharing this. You would then be wary of what the relationship is going to be like moving forward with your web agency if they acted like that.
To confirm, my key points about how to find a really great web development agency are make sure you shop around, take time and create a fantastic specification document with loads of detail. Always make sure that they have the right credentials and they’ve been around for a little while and they’re not going to go out of business in a couple of months.
Look for a level of detail in their proposal, don’t just pick the cheapest one, because if it’s got no detail in there you’ve got no accountability should anything go wrong, and finally make sure that you get some testimonials from their existing customers.
About Lauren Clarke
Lauren writes for a number of influential blogs and clients, across the globe. When not blogging, you can find her with a glass of Australian red wine in her hand, reading a book. Lauren’s recent work can be found here.