Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier…

5 Things to Consider before Choosing a Web Design Company

If you’re not keen on the idea of using a video game to select your web design company (similar to how the Star League chose The Last Starfighter in one of my favorite sci-fi films from the 80’s), then this article is for you.

Website design is a really competitive business. I should know. It seems everyone and their cousin is building websites these days, not to mention the do-it-yourself website software packages out there. If you don’t care how your web design looks, or you just want some information thrown up on a page, then you probably shouldn’t think too deeply about how your website gets built. For everyone else, here are 5 things we think you should consider about your web design company before you hire them to build your business website:

1.  How knowledgeable are they about general business and marketing principles?

You’re a business person and your website is a marketing tool. It makes sense that your web design company should speak to you in these terms. How will the website generate more business for you? What kind of marketing techniques are they employing in the design, layout, and copywriting to engage your site viewers and keep them from bouncing? These are the types of questions a web design company should be able to answer competently to give you a warm fuzzy that they actually know something about building a business.

2.  How much do they know about your business?

If they don’t know much about your business when you first meet them, how interested are they in learning about it? If a web design or Internet marketing company is building your website, they should know something about your business – not just your products, services, and location, either. They should know about your clients, too. How do they select your products, what are the top 3 things they want out of your service, what demographics do they typically fit? If you want to use your website to get prospects to give you their contact information or buy, then your website better speak to them directly. Your web design company should know how to do that.

3.  Do they use a formal process to build your website?

And, can they easily explain it to you? It shouldn’t be so convoluted that you can’t understand it. It should be simple, repeatable, and it should keep you in the loop at every stage. You don’t want to meet with your web design company once and then have them give you a website in your next meeting. What if you didn’t like it? You’d have to go back to formula and start again, and that can make for some tense meetings with your designer. A good process will give you the opportunity to give feedback at different stages, so changes based on your input are made on the road to completion, not after.

4.  Is there some period of service after your site goes live?

One of the worst things that could happen is that you agree with your web design company that the website “looks good,” it goes live, and you find out there’s something wrong with it. Then, your web design company says it will cost X amount of dollars to fix. Better yet, they’ll fix it, but you have to purchase a 1-year service agreement. That’s shady business. There should be some free maintenance period after the site is live. I’d like to say that GS builds everything perfectly, but I’m a realist. Mistakes happen, things get overlooked, and we should have to fix it – and it shouldn’t be on the client’s tab.

5.  Do you like them?

That’s right, do you like them? Likeability counts, especially in business. Building a website should be a fun, exciting, and engaging process for the both the agency and the client. It shouldn’t be a teeth-gnashing, head-banging, hair-pulling stress fest. It can take several weeks to build a big website. Why work with someone who is cranky, elusive, or just ill-tempered? You’ll be left with a bad feeling about your website afterwards, even if it looks great. Work with someone you get along with, who listens to your needs, and also guides you along the way.

In addition to whether or not you like a web design company’s portfolio, these 5 things are minimum requirements. Certainly there are other factors to consider, but these should help you thin the herd. Then again, there’s always The Last Starfighter method.

About Chris Sholler

Chris Sholler is the co-founder of GroundSwell Web Designs and leads most of its marketing and sales activities. When he’s not meeting with clients, aching miserably over his writing, and obsessively redoing everything on his Illustrator art board, you can usually find him somewhere drinking coffee strong enough for him to see time slow down. Follow Chris on Linkedin. See all posts by Chris.