For many business owners, picking a new web design company to craft your public facing online window to the world can be a daunting task.
For some, they feel like it's like walking into a woozle bobpit shop and trying to ask for something that they do not really understand, while others instantly get "plumber syndrome" where they like to pretend they know as much as the consultant they are talking to and engage in trying to talk shop (they usually end up with something they didn't want).
However, the savvy business owner will clearly understand that to get what they want when engaging with any business (not just a web agency) they need to do a little research and brush up on the typical BS that may be fed to them by a less than reputable member in that certain industry.
This article is for the latter people, the ones that understand that being informed will result in them getting a site that not only looks good, ranks well and is secure but also helps their business grow.
Without further ado, Here are the top 5 questions to ask when hiring a web design company.
1. What is the average cost of your websites?
This is a very important question and one that should be asked early on, it can reveal many things about the company you are eyeing up.
First and foremost, the answer to watch out for is "We tailor each price to you" translated that means "we'll see how much we can squeeze out of you and pluck a figure from our arse". Any web design company worth their salt will understand what their costs are and be able to understand your requirements, coupled with an average markup they will fully understand what they charge.
There may be some basic information required to give a price but for example, you could ask "What is your average cost for a fully custom built e-commerce site" (which should always be high, chap e-commerce is exactly that CHEAP!). For most, however, you will probably be asking something like "What is the average cost for a 5-10 page website", for a web design company this should be very easy to answer if they are experienced as this will be their bread and butter.
2. Can you provide examples of previous websites?
This one may be obvious but is rarely asked, some web design companies may or may not display previous work on their sites but when asked should always be able to point you to some websites that have been built by them.
Take a look at the examples they provide and ask yourself "would I be impressed if I landed on this site". Always take your time examining these examples before making your decision.
3. What other services do you provide?
This is actually a VERY important question as a lot of hidden tidbits are hidden in this.
Whilst there are many great web design companies out there that create beautiful looking websites, they may not be very good at ranking in search engines such as Google and Bing.
This is usually because web design and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is seen as very different skillsets. A web design company may not necessarily understand what it takes or what needs to go into a website in order to make it rank on the first page.
Many business owners that have had websites built usually find out (too late) that their beautiful new website ranks poorly and then requires spending quite a bit more money having the site audited top to bottom to find the technical and content issues holding the site back and then having them rectified.
Do not be fooled by a web design company telling you that 'include' SEO with their site builds as SEO is an ongoing process and if that is not something that they offer they probably do not really understand it.
However, if they insist they DO optimise you site when building but do not offer SEO themselves, ask these questions:
- Do you perform content analysis to make sure the correct keywords and semantic words are being used correctly?
- Do you perform pagespeed insights or lighthouse reports to measure the speed of the site across mobile and desktop?
- Do you assess render blocking scripts to make sure the site appears to load instantly?
There are probably a thousand more questions that could also be asked, but if they do not understand these then chances are they are NOT optimising your site and just think that optimisation is good titles and meta descriptions.
4. What research do you do before building my site?
Some web design companies will just pick a template and knock something together that looks acceptable and send the bill your way.
A good web design company will spend at least 4-5 days researching your industry and target audience to understand what resonates with them. The will want to make a website that appeals to the people you are intending to attract. A website based on stocks and share will have a wildly different design to a site that targets pet owners (yes, we have seen the same template being used for both by bad design agencies!).
5. Do you outsource any of the work?
It may surprise you but probably around 50% of web design companies actually do not do most or any of the work themselves and instead outsource the job to cheaper agencies at home or abroad.
This obviously raises questions and companies that outsource your work usually turn out very low quality 'cheap' sites. If your brand is important to you make sure you are working with a company that is undertaking the work themselves.