Companies spend a lot of time in building websites that provide a dynamic and unique user experience, built on the latest frameworks and database management systems. Attractive websites are a great way of showcasing your products, vision, and customer reviews.
Your website represents your brand and having an attractive and engaging website is the first step towards building your brand and business digitally. Website design complexity necessitates you entrust only the best for this intricate task.
Here is a 5-Step process to help you find a web design agency that is the best match for you and that can help you make your digital identity dream come true.
STEP 1: Who (or what!) is Ajax? Understand what you want your website to do – before you hire somebody:
What exactly do you want your website to do? It is a simple question with no easy answer. It would need some thought on how technology like the internet would interact (via the medium of the website) with your business, your (prospective) customers, and your market category (think competitors!). What synergies would be possible and what conflicts would need to be avoided.
As a business owner, you might have an understanding on what your customer needs are. You might also have a good knowledge on your industry segment. But if you are not sure how the web design process works, then there are companies that take you for a ride.
So, it is imperative that you get some knowledge of web development – what can be done and what cannot be done. Only when you have this understanding, it becomes possible to envision how you want the website to be.
While the web design agency will have its process and method, it is recommended that you have a clarity on the kind of website you want to have. Should it be an informational website or an e-commerce website, do you need email marketing features, admin back-end to change the content later, etc.
Once you have this clarity, it becomes easier to communicate your requirements to the company that will be building your website. This clarity reduces the conflicts, confusion and the multiple levels of communication leading to an increase in project time. It also ensures that the end results are in line with what you envisioned.
STEP 2: Budget, Budget, Budget:
It all comes down to money, does it not? In a perfect world, you would have unlimited resources and we would not even be having this conversation. Just continue throwing money until you have the very best website in the world with your very own crack team of front and back end developers.
But resources are always limited and those limitations are to be respected. Determine what resources you could devote to your website. Would you be able to hire an independent consultant to act as your point man in your interactions with the web design agency? How many people would form the team tasked with coordinating with the web design firm?
Finally, what is the number on the cheque (check) that you would feel comfortable writing out when the contract with the web design agency is finalized?
The answer to these questions would not only determine the nature of your website but also the choice of a web design firm – whether you want to hire a top web design company or work with freelance designer who might be affordable.
STEP 3: Create your long list:
It all starts coming together for you now. You now have a good idea of the website you need within the restrictions of your budget. Start your search by:
– Tapping your network: As always in most endeavors, a recommendation from a trusted source is a good place to start.
– Use your very own browsing history: There would be certain websites that you would have visited with elements you would have considered a good fit for your very own prospective website. Find out who was responsible for creating those websites.
– Online Directories: Use reputed online directories that not only list the popular web design companies, but also verify and authenticate the information provided by these companies.
Some of the good ones that enables you to research and find the top service providers are:
- Web Design Companies: Provides an easy to peruse tabular ranking of web design agency along with relevant information like location, size, and charges. Also provides information on the latest trends in web design along with tips from experts to help you identify the right firm for your needs.
- Clutch.co: Clutch.co is a well-known resource for businesses with a listing of various firms in various categories. The web design category has over 46,000 firms. Input your preferred budget, location, size, focus area, and other details into the filtering engine to zero onto the right firms. Links to individual firm websites are included in case you need to take a quick look.
- Good Firms: The directory for web development firms has over 12000 listings organized in a ranking structure. The dashboard provides quick sorting per country, city, and specific specialty of the web design agency. There is also a filtering engine with options for hourly charges for more granular control of listing results. Each listing has a useful one-paragraph description and also links to the company website in case the visitor requires more information.
- Hubspot: A general directory that contains listings of firms across industries ranging from Automotive to Waste Management. The website design category has over 3000 listings. Each listing is accompanied by a short self-introduction by the firm. The filtering engine has the usual budget, location, and firm specialization controls along with ‘HubSpot’ specific controls like awards, tier, and certifications.
- Crowd Reviews: Provides a simple tabular ranking of web design companies based on buyer reviews. After crawling for information like a total number of reviews, reviewer quality, average rating, age of reviews, relevance, contributor level, etc the algorithm then spits out a ranking untouched by favoritism. The idea is to remove unreliable, fake, emotional, sponsored, and duplicate reviews while compiling the ranking. Filtering tools are available so that the listings can be focused as per requirements.
STEP 4: Prune your long list and shortlist:
Once you have prepared your list of companies, narrow it down to a few choices so that you start discussions with them to get your website up and running.
Keep the following points in mind while you prepare your shortlist:
- Process: Does the firm have a well-defined and well-articulated process?
- Case studies: Is the firm confident enough to showcase its work on its website for prospective customers with case studies? Do these case studies resonate with you?
- Reputation: How long has the firm been in business and who are their clients? Has the firm been recognized by the industry with awards from the like of Awwwards, CSS Design, and Webby?
- Leadership: What is the ethos and philosophy of leadership? Does it complement/match your own? Is the leadership active via participation in industry seminars and conferences?
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What is the firm’s SEO auditing process? How will they ensure that web site design is optimized to improve organic search result rankings?
- Web site hosting: Will the web design firm handle hosting or will that be your headache?
- Social media marketing: Does the firm provide a solution to increase the visibility of your websites on social media like Twitter and Facebook?
- Metrics: Will the firm handle or assist in website metric tracking and analysis?
STEP 5: The RIGHT web design agency for you:
The last step is to identify the right web design company on the basis of your interactions with them. Keep these three points in mind before you sign the dotted line:
- Support: What support do they provide once the website is live and for how long?
- Copyright: Who holds the copyright to the designs? Do they transfer all the files and source code of the design elements created or hold onto them? How will that impact you?
- Training: What training will the web design agency provide before handing over the website?
Make your choice carefully after a thorough study of the contract and seal the deal. Your spanking new website should soon be ready to be viewed by the world.