Whether you’re looking to launch a website for the very first time or your current website is in serious need of a makeover, finding the best web design firm for your project can be a bit intimidating.
According to researchers at Hubspot, there were only about 210 million websites just over a decade ago. Today, there are over 1.8 billion! That’s a big crowd to stand out in, so building a modern, optimized website that provides a great user experience is crucial.
Read on to learn the top ten questions you should be asking potential new partners when evaluating your options and finding the best web design firm for your complex website.
Can we see some examples of your work?
The teams at the best web design firms will always be happy to share their portfolios with you. Dig into the websites they’ve already created and see how well you can navigate them, if you find the design pleasing, etc.
Also, look to partner with someone who can show you a wide range of designs. This shows they don’t do cookie-cutter designs for every client. The best web design firms build websites that reflect each client’s unique brand and best meet the needs of their customers.
Is design and development work done in-house, or do you outsource?
When looking for the best web design firm for your project, it helps to look at how their team is structured. Some agencies fully outsource their design and development, while some have a team to complete the entire project in-house. (And some agencies fall somewhere in the middle.) You may even encounter a person who promises they can design, program, and manage your site all on their own.
Beware of the extremes. Whether it be an agency that outsources all of their work or the lone “website expert” who does it all—these situations can often be problematic.
When all of the design and development work is outsourced, miscommunication is more likely to occur, resulting in your needs not being met or project delays.
As far as having one person doing all the work, this might leave you with some areas of the project that aren’t quite up to snuff, since it’s hard for one person to be an expert in every area.
What is your design process, and how will the site be built?
The best web design firms will have a clear, documented process they use for every project. The ability to walk you through their process framework shows they have experience and are less likely to let things fall through the cracks—and more likely to get your project done on time.
The best web design firms will also explain if they offer templated websites, custom-coded websites, or a mix. You should also ask if they would build your website on a content management system (CMS) and, if so, on which platform. A content management system is a platform used to create and organize your website, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
When it comes to process, you may also want to inquire about a web designer’s usability expertise and experience. The best web design firms will want to build you the most sticky website possible with user-centered design best practices.
Do you design websites that are mobile-friendly and accessible?
A modern website is responsive and adjusts to fit any desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone size and is coded for Google’s mobile-first indexing.
If you don’t have a responsive or mobile version of your website, it will still be included in Google’s index; however, your search engine ranking may suffer.
Another critical thing to consider that some overlook is how accessible your website will be. The best web design firms create website sites that are user-friendly for people with disabilities.
Do you follow SEO best practices when building website?
Search engine optimization (SEO) increases the visibility of your website content, making it easier for people to find and browse. Tactics like image optimization, alt tagging, and keyword research help your site rank higher on search engines.
Some web developers treat SEO like an afterthought, which can negatively impact your search rankings and undermine your marketing efforts. Ask potential agencies how they work SEO into their design and development process.
The best web design firms will be knowledgeable about SEO best practices and consider optimizing at every step of the process, from building to maintaining to marketing your website.
How much will this cost?
This may seem like an obvious question that anyone would ask, but budgeting for a website project isn’t always so cut and dry.
The best web design firm for your project will be transparent and explicitly share what their work will cover. Be sure they understand what your budget is and that you clearly understand their pricing before you agree to work together. The last thing you want is surprises later when you’re well into the project.
A good web design agency will work with you to clearly define the project scope and determine what would (and would not) align with your existing budget. Be sure to ask what services are included and find out whether or not costs for things like web hosting, domain registration, plugins, and stock imagery are all accounted for in the price.
What will you need to get started?
You can’t create a great website in a vacuum. You’ll need to work closely with your web design agency to ensure the best outcome. There will be things they’ll need from your team to get started and at different times throughout the project.
The agency should be able to provide you with a list of exactly what you’ll need to provide upfront. This might include written content and messaging, images, logos, login information, etc.
The best web design firm will also want information about your target audience. They will be interested in knowing your industry, your business’s value proposition, and what your customers/prospects care about most. If an agency doesn’t ask about this, you should see that as a red flag.
How long will it take to complete my website project?
Just as the budget conversation needs to be transparent, so does the proposed timeline for your project. When looking to hire the best web design firm, you must ensure your timeline aligns with how long they expect the project to take (with some wiggle room added in).
They should outline the project scope and include key delivery dates for different portions of the project. The best web design firms set clear expectations with clients upfront and adhere as closely as possible to proposed deadlines.
How will changes and updates to the website be managed?
The last thing you want is a stagnate website that never gets updated. So you’ll need to know how the process of making changes on your site will happen.
Some web design agencies will set up a content management system and show your team how to add text, images, create forms, etc. But, even with a content management system, some changes will require more advanced coding. Ask potential agencies if they provide ongoing services to make website changes, and if so, how much that work would cost.
If you want the ability for yourself or someone on your team to make changes, be sure the agency you choose to partner with uses a content management system that you’re familiar with—or is easy enough to learn.
What will you do to help make sure our new website gets results?
The best web design firms have business outcomes on the brain. They will want to build and help you maintain a website that converts and enables you to grow your business.
Ask potential agencies if they measure any analytics (e.g., appointment requests, case study downloads, unique visitors, bounce rate, etc.) and which tools they use.
Beware of any web designers who aren’t talking to you about results. Even a beautiful-looking company website won’t do you any good if it’s not driving revenue for your business.
The best web design firms knows how to build your site and promote it
The professionals at the best web design firms are also strategic marketers who create high-performing websites that get business results.
Find a web design partner who can handle the design and development of your site and the digital marketing strategies to drive traffic and generate leads for your team.