In the world of online marketing, many companies attempt to handle their web design tasks in-house. While this can be beneficial if you have qualified staff who are prepared to take on the added workload, more often than not companies attempt to add duties to already beleaguered staff members, which takes those employees away from their primary job functions. Hiring a web design firm can provide you with years of experience and ability without detracting from your day to day operational capacity, and they are on-hand when you need them rather than around-the-clock as a full-time in-house web design staff might be.
When it comes to picking the right web design firm, however, where do you go? There are literally thousands of them, and you don’t necessarily need to hire locally to find the best one for your needs. You may feel like choosing a web design firm is like drawing a random number from a basket, and in some cases it can be, unless you’re prepared to weed out those firms that would not be a good fit. With that in mind, here are six critical questions for you to answer before making a final decision in your choice of web design firms:
- Pricing. One of the first things you’ll want to know is how the web design firm structures their pricing. Do they have a standard price list or custom pricing packages? Will you be charged for options you don’t need, and will extras cost extra? Do they offer extended services and maintenance in their initial price, or do you have to pay for upgrades and revisions? Make sure you get a comprehensive quote or proposal with all the price details up front.
- References. Who are their past (and current) clients, and do they have examples of their work they can present to you? Are those examples just mock-ups, or are they actual, functioning websites? Are they willing to provide client references for you to contact regarding their work and reputation? If a web design company is not forthcoming with their previous work, portfolio, track record, and client experiences, you should immediately mark them off your list.
- Marketing Results. Does the company have a baseline for measuring results? Is their “success” determined by your success, and by what markers is that defined? ROI? Leads? Conversion rates?
- Scalable Services. Is the web design company able to start small, if that’s where you want to begin, and then grow their offered services as your company’s marketing presence grows? They should be adaptable and able to scale their service packages to the needs – current and future – of their clients.
- Physical Location. Does the web design company have a physical location and what does it look like? You want to know if they are operating out of a physical location where all their employees work, or if they are doling out tasks on a piecemeal basis to telecommuters or long-distance “consultants” who work as needed. If you plan to retain their services for the long haul, you don’t want their company to appear to be fly-by-night.
- Design Control. Do they defer to you for all design decisions, or do they make decisions for you without consent? Since it’s your website, you need to have the ultimate say in how it looks and how your business is presented online.
Using these six core areas of inquiry, you can make an informed decision when it’s time to choose a web design firm and feel comfortable knowing you’ve made the best choice for your business needs.