How to Choose a Web Design Agency

A website is often the first touchpoint a customer will interact with and may very well be what forms their first impression of your brand. So, when you’re redesigning that website, choosing the right web design agency that can accurately represent the ideas and goals of your business is crucial.

In such a highly competitive market, determining who will work best for you can be a daunting task. We have put together a few tips on how to choose a web design agency and what to look out for before making that big leap!

Web Design and Web Development: What’s the Difference?

The all-encompassing nature of web design can occasionally confuse the best of us. So, before we dive into our top tips for choosing a web design agency, it would be beneficial to understand what web design and web development may entail and what fits the needs of your business.

Web Design

The term web design may automatically encourage you to think about colours, imagery, and the visual and graphic elements of a website. Ensuring the website has a cohesive brand aesthetic is a pivotal element in determining its success. However, it is important to note that a web designer will also take into account the design in terms of usability, specifically focusing on User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). They will strategically design the website to display a client’s products or services in the most visually appealing way possible while also guiding the customer efficiently through the site and creating an engaging and memorable experience.

Web Development

In comparison, a web developer would typically have a more technical skillset in terms of deep knowledge of coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP or Python. While the web designer would deal with the front-end customer-facing elements, it is the web developer’s job to implement all the elements of the design through code, while accounting for functionality, interactivity and also testing and debugging each element.

In certain organisations, both these roles may be adapted and handled by a single highly skilled and talented individual. Furthermore, depending on the agency, they might offer just one of these services, or both to completely support you in your web design project.

As a business owner, if you’re looking to create a new website or overhaul your existing website, it is vital to understand the deep connection between both fields but also recognise the difference in skill sets. This will enable you to identify what your business requires and will further aid you in choosing a web design company.

Tips for Choosing the Right Web Design Agency

1. What are your website requirements and goals?

The process of overhauling your website or creating a new one begins with your business. Mapping out your business goals but, more importantly for our purposes, the needs of the website, form the foundation.

Are you aiming to create an ecommerce site to generate higher sales? Or maybe integrate other platforms, including social media and payment portals, into your website? Do you have a vast product range which needs careful organisation? It could be any of these factors or a combination, but identifying the features that your website must have will help ensure that the web design agency you choose can customise your website to include these elements and achieve the goals you have set out.

2. Finalise your budget

With a budget, an efficient approach would be to establish a cost range rather than a fixed single number because, with web design, the bespoke nature of each business’s requirements means that the rates and prices could vary greatly. Accounting for some leeway will ensure that your boundaries for the project are finalised before you begin choosing a web design agency. It will also help give an indication of what needs to be done and how much you’re willing to spend on it.

However, if at any point you believe that the price for what you wish to accomplish is too high, there are always options available to scale back your requirements for the website and make it more achievable.

3. Ask for referrals

Before you go on the hunt, it could be worthwhile checking in with your friends, family or businesses you are aware of that have used a web design agency. This would enable you to view their final website and discuss with the business owners how the agency approached their requirements, problems and goals. This will allow you to ascertain if the method and processes employed by that web design agency would fit your website requirements.

4. Review portfolios and experience

How do you choose a web design agency that is guaranteed to achieve your goals? A great indicator of this would be to review the clients the agency has worked with. A long-standing relationship with established clients will give you a good sense of the scale of businesses the agency has experience with. Additionally, if the agency has a portfolio to view along with case studies, this would assist you in your decision.

Remember to look for a variety in the kinds of projects the agency has worked on. This will further evidence creative thinking, not just in terms of aesthetics and design but also creativity in the approach to problem-solving and the level of technical expertise the agency possesses. A few factors that might help you assess them better are:

  • Mobile compatibility: Are the websites optimised for mobile use?
  • Accessibility: Not only should the websites be user-friendly, they should be accessible to everyone, including the elderly or anyone disabled. You can learn more about accessible web design on our blog.
  • Information architecture: Are the different sections and categories of the website organised and presented to enhance usability?
  • Design and usability: Fabulous designs are great for aesthetics but do not create any value if usability is not also accounted for.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember to look for concrete facts and figures. Anything carried out will be done for a specific goal, e.g., to increase the number of visits, to reduce bounce rate, to improve website load time, and to increase sales. Keep a keen lookout for these results when choosing your web design company.

5. Read reviews and testimonials

The next step in choosing the right web design agency is to read their reviews and testimonials. While most agencies will have at least a few of these displayed on their own website, it is vital to dig a little deeper and look at other review sites such as Trustpilot, Google or even Facebook. Social media is also a good avenue to consider. Together, this will provide a holistic perspective and further insight into the reliability, professionalism and customer service of the agency.

6. Consider a balanced approach

Almost all businesses, irrespective of their scale or whether they uses offline or online marketing, will require a website. It ultimately aims to increase your sales. In order to carry out such a project, the web designer you work with will require a thorough understanding of the overall process and not treat every aspect as an individual, isolated entity.

While choosing a web design company, remember to consider a balanced approach with a team that must be able to support the entirety of not just the project but your business goals as well. This is especially relevant when considering a freelancer in comparison with choosing a web design agency. A freelancer will have a core set of skills and expertise, while an agency will have an entire team with a wider range of skills and services to offer. Typically, an agency would have a larger pool of resources, including the capability to work on larger projects with shorter lead times.

7. Have a discussion

The best way to assess and choose a web design agency is to have a discussion with the team that’s going to work on your project. An initial discussion will give you a better idea of the overall culture of the agency, the approach they are going to take and if you have a good rapport with them. Remember to ask them any questions you might have, including technical questions such as –

  • Which content management system will they use to support your website?

This will make it simpler for you as a non-technical individual to maintain and update your website on your own. For example, at Welford, we are well-experienced with OpenCart and Craft CMS.

  • Who will own this website that the agency creates?

Occasionally, agencies only rent a website to you with an ongoing fee; this will mean if you choose to leave the agency, you might lose the content and the platform itself. This does have the advantage of a lower initial cost. However, if the agency builds you a website that you own, you can choose to host it anywhere with easy migration features.

  • If you choose to discontinue working with the agency, will they move the website to another hosting platform?

Some agencies may assist you in the site migration process, while some might just provide you with access and expect you to carry out the entire process yourself.

  • Do they offer training?

It could be worth checking if the agency will give you any training to use your new website. Tasks such as adding new pages, uploading blog posts and editing content or adding new users can all seem very intimidating on a new platform. Having some assistance and ongoing support, especially during complex site updates, can prove to be more efficient.

  • Do they offer continual maintenance and development support?

Websites require constant monitoring for problems and faults that might crop up. Furthermore, with technology constantly changing, a website will also require periodic updates to the latest software and interfaces, which could require a certain level of technical expertise.

  • Will they offer advice and best practices to leverage the most out of the new website they have built?

The process of building a great and efficient website is not a single-stage task. Once the site is built, that alone will not always ensure success. The agency may offer additional support to ensure the further work you do, such as the supporting content you put up, the images you use, and the pages you add, all work together to build on the existing framework they have created rather than render it inefficient.

So, how do you choose a web design agency? Remember to assess and account for all these numerous aspects but, most importantly to trust your instincts. No one else knows your business quite like you do. Seek to build a relationship with an agency that will ensure to provide constant support through a mutual drive and passion for achieving the best for your business!

At Welford, we’ve worked with a range of clients to develop a multitude of projects ranging from web design to web development services. We strive to leverage the true potential of your business by meeting the goals and requirements set by you. Please get in touch with our incredible Leeds-based team to create your dream website!

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