Google ‘web designer’, and you’re confronted with tens of thousands of results. How on earth do you choose the right agency for you?
Without having specialist knowledge of web design, this may seem a daunting task. But don’t despair – as it turns out, you already have all the tools you need to choose wisely. Despite its apparently baffling technical nature, web design is essentially the same as any other service, and the same rules apply in selecting a provider.
If you were choosing a builder, you’d probably want to know about their previous work, any testimonials, and prices. You’d also make a judgement on their customer service. This is no different for web design. Let’s look at these a bit more closely:
Any web designer worth their salt will have a portfolio of work that you can browse through. When you visit their site, make the most of that opportunity. If you think their customer sites look ugly, or they’re confusing and hard to navigate, chances are that other people think the same. When it comes to the overall impression a website makes, your opinion is an expert one. Also, ask yourself if the sites fit nicely with the nature of the companies they’re representing. Some designers add a commentary to their portfolios, and whilst not essential, these can give some indication that the designer has really thought about the site and tried to match it to the customers’ needs.
What previous customers have to say about the company can give you a great deal of insight. Often, what’s missing from testimonials can tell you a lot. And there’s nothing to stop you contacting previous customers and asking them directly about their experiences.
This is obviously important, but can be very hard to pin down. Very few web designers give a binding quotation without knowing about the project in some detail. That’s understandable, as designers have to accurately estimate how long the job will take them. Yet many designers’ web sites don’t even give rough guidelines to their prices. With so many professionals offering their service, is it worth pursuing those that cannot even give you a ball-park figure?
This is the crucial one. There are many, many competent web designers out there, but far fewer who have stellar customer service skills. Other than testimonials, making contact is probably the only way of making a judgement on this. Get in touch, and you’ll soon get a feel for what it would it be like to work with the designer. Are your emails and calls returned promptly? Are they able to communicate in plain English? Do you get the sense that the designer will really listen to you.? Will they take the trouble to understand your business and translate that into a website design? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, look elsewhere!
Apply these four common-sense criteria to your search for a web professional and you’ll soon separate the wheat from the chaff.