If you have a business in this modern day and age, then it’s pretty much required that you have a website as your digital storefront – But how did you go about choosing the right web development team for your job?
To help get you on the right track, and hopefully avoid disaster, we’ve thrown together this handy guide so you know what to look out for.
Chances are, you picked a web development company that you found online, or maybe you got a suggestion from a friend, a work partner or something of the like. Whatever the case may be, how did you get that company to make sure that they have what it takes to produce a site that you’re happy with, and more importantly, your clients will be happy with?
Some of you may be surprised to hear that the answer to the question is usually “Umm… Im not really sure, I just picked them because it was a convenient choice” – If this answer resonates with you, then you may already have experienced the turbulent and expensive process of a web developer with questionable experience or technical ability.
To prevent you from falling into a trap like this, we’ve thrown together a step by step guide to vet ANY web development company that you may be considering for your next project.
Step 1: Check To Ensure That The Web Design Company Is An Established Brand
Finding a web design company that can tackle your project with an experienced and detailed eye can be a tough task, but it’s not impossible. There are a couple of key metrics that you should look out for which should indicate whether or not the business you’re looking at is actually going to meet the hype that their webpage is showering them with.
- How Long Has The Business Been Around For? This one may seem like common sense, but we can’t stress enough the importance of experience. A business that has been around for many years is going to have a pool of knowledge far greater than the freshly graduated Uni student your sister suggested, who only charges 1 quarter of the price. It may be tempting to go with the latter, but it’s important to remember that any and every project is going to have its own unique challenges, and that’s where the experience shines.
- How Many Projects Have They Completed? This one walks hand in hand with experience, but it’s worth checking to see if any of the projects in their portfolio lines up in some way with yours. If you find an established business that’s done a couple of projects that align with your industry, then you’re on the right track. If not, then that’s fine too, as long as they have a track record of consistently producing quality websites
- Check Reviews And Client Amounts. Any business worth its weight in Gold will proudly display their clients reviews wherever they can – Whether that’s on the homepage, their Google My Business listing or any other platform, they should be found fairly easily.
Have a scan over these reviews, not only reading them for their content and ascribed performance results, but also have a look through for review amounts and check from which sort of industry these clients come from. If you can’t find any reviews at all or you don’t see many, that could be a bad sign.
Unfortunately, for anyone looking to get a new website, the majority of website design companies that you’ll find are usually small one man bands or smaller agencies that outsource all of their web dev work to cheaper labor –
This isn’t to say that they are bad or that the quality of work will be worse off, but at the end of the day you need to make an investment and quality assurance matters. It may be tempting to choose the company that offers the cheap deal, but think twice about your choice and look around as much as possible.
Step 2: How Much Are You Paying?
Putting a price on any website can be some seriously tricky business. The industry is full of extremely cheap website deals and on the other hand also filled with extremely expensive and fancy sounding ones, but, which deal is right for you?
That’s a question that only you can answer, and there are a couple of factors that you will need to take into consideration before you make a decision.
Let’s start with the cheaper end of the pricing scale – With a cheap website (anything under 3k) you can expect a couple of defining website characteristics, and these are the following:
- Reproducibility – A cheaper website is usually made from a templated skeleton theme. This is mostly identifiable when a website page structure is almost the same across all its pages. The reason behind this production method lies in the fact that you can pump out a website super quickly with minimal design hiccups for an extremely low cost.
- No Flexibility – Cheap solutions very rarely conform to suit your needs, what usually ends up happening is that you start conforming your needs to the website. If that didn’t make any sense, let me extrapolate further – Since cheap websites use the templated production methods there is only ‘so much’ that you can do with them.
If you need something that lies slightly outside of the web designers project purview, then you might sit stranded because the developer doesn’t have the skills to implement what you need or the website is not structured correctly.
- Support Issues – Cheaper websites don’t often come along with an amazing support team – This is something that you need to think about very carefully, as the more downtime your website has, the less money you make.
If you are considering a web development company that produces cheaper websites, I would suggest asking them detailed questions on the topics that we listed prior – If they can give you detailed answers and solid solutions then you’re on the right track.
Now, let’s cover the points to consider on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
- Diminishing Returns – Websites can get expensive… Really expensive! But what sort of things are you gaining by paying $30k on a website compared to a softer $10k? Are you really getting 3x the value?
The simple answer to this is, probably not. We would suggest being cautious and getting as many second opinions as needed till you get a solid grasp on where all that hard earned money is being spent.
- Flexibility – Expensive projects almost always come with a more flushed out design process and having a flexible process is key to producing great results. If you’re running a bigger project with a lot of pages, then this factor is an extremely important one to take into consideration.
- Futureproofing – Any web developer who is any good at their craft will always design their websites with future expandability in mind. Who knows what their business will look like in 2 years in time? Well, no one really, but it’s good to have peace of mind that your website will be easily adapted to anything that’s thrown at it.
For most people, a price point between the two extremes is usually where they’ll draw their budget and the age old saying holds true “You get what you pay for”.
It’s also vital to understand that a website is never a simple once off payment just for you to forget about it and continue on with your day – A website is a project that stays active for as long as your business is operating.
It’s worthwhile to find a web development company who you can trust to come along with you on your business journey and who can accommodate your needs for the long term.
Step 3: Can You Use The Backend?
Getting a web development company to make you a beautiful website with all the added bells and whistles is a wonderful process, especially when it’s all done and dusted and you get to finally use it for what it’s intended for – only to find out that you don’t have the technical expertise to make any website edits or blog posts…
Though uncommon, this exact scenario does happen to some unlucky individuals. Ask your desired web development company as many questions as you can possibly think of about how the back end will work, how much you’ll be able to make changes on your own and how much support they’ll provide on the off occasion that you need some help.
If the business flounders or says anything that suggests that you’ll need ongoing paid support to do basic backend tasks, give them a skip and continue on your search
Step 4: Is Your Choice An All In One Solution?
While you’re on the hunt for a new website, it’s easy to get carried away in the details and forget about the bigger picture – Your website isn’t all there is to your online presence! We’re sure that you already know this, but SEO, PPC, SMM etc are all things that should be considered right along with the website itself.
Depending on your circumstances, we suggest looking for a business that does all marketing services! Web Development, Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media Advertising etc etc.
Why is this the case? Well, here’s a couple of things to think about:
- Holistic Solutions Work Best – The advantage of having one business take care of all your digital marketing is that they will get to understand all aspects of your business and will adjust campaigns accordingly. All your marketing efforts need to be carefully coordinated to work with one another for the highest chance of success, and a one team solution is the best way to achieve that.
- One Point Of Contact – Hiring several different businesses to take care of different marketing efforts might prove to be successful, but it sure can get confusing. Coordinating with more than 2 competitors can get challenging not in the sense that you’d think, but rather in making sense of results.
What we’re referring to here is the way in which they will report on their efforts. 6 different businesses means 6 different reports, and 6 different meetings will no doubt be organised to make sense of it all. Time is money, and it is not something you want to be wasting on a whim.
Step 5: Do They See You As A Quick Buck?
The final, and perhaps even one of the important things to take into consideration is does the web design agency truly understand what’s required from the project, and are they excited about the project?
Do they take the time to understand how your business operates? What your workplace culture is like? What your future goals and aspirations are in relation to your business? These are all factors that will have a massive impact on the end result.
Some companies will look at you as a quick buck, and others will try their best to get you exactly what you’re looking for – Try your best to find someone you can tell is excited, motivated and ready to jump at the opportunity that you’re presenting them with.
The best way to check for these qualities is to ask them if they have any questions or thoughts, any edits that they would suggest, critiques etc. This should give you a good insight into how much they’ve thought about the project and how they can have a good impact.
This has been our 5 Steps To Hiring A Good Web Design Company – We hope that we have been able to impart some wisdom to you, and that you can use these steps to get the website of your dreams!