How to Evaluate a Reliable Web Design Agency
Why Selecting a Reliable Web Design Agency is so Important!
OK, you have decided that your business needs a new or redesigned website. Most likely, you already have some specific ideas of what you want or need on your new website. Maybe you have even started working on the content for your website.
So, what exactly comes next? Unless you plan to build your business website, you will need to find someone for designing it for you. For most businesses, the logical choice is to work with a web design agency.
And this is where things frequently go wrong. Many business owners tend to rush through this part and tend to regret that later. Designing and building a mobile-first website is a complex undertaking. Therefore, the better aligned your web design agency is to your business requirements and personal style, the better the outcome will be.
Selecting a reliable web design agency is like choosing your business lawyer, accountant, or other professional. First, you need to feel comfortable working with them.
It’s a Bit Like Dating, You Know!
Looking for a reliable web design agency is a little bit like going out on a first date. Maybe you are looking for a simple landing page or small site. In most cases, this is a quick project, like a passionate summer romance. When the project is finished, you go your separate ways.
But what if you are looking for a long-term relationship with a reliable web design agency? It becomes more like planning to start a family together.
Of course, the above scenarios are at the extreme ends of the engagement you will have with your web design agency. Most likely, you will ease into the relationship by building a mobile-first business website together and seeing how that goes. Here are a few things that will help you find your perfect date or web design agency.
How to Start Looking for a Reliable Web Design Agency
One way to start looking for a reliable web design agency is by asking your friends or business associates for any recommendations. A recommendation is constructive if one of them recently got a new website. Also, ask them if they would be willing to refer their service provider.
Another way to look for a web design agency is by looking at websites you like and checking who designed them. Then, look for a design credit in the footer or on the contact page. If there is no listed web design credit, you can always contact the business and ask.
Googling WordPress web designers or web design agencies will likely result in millions of search results based on your search criteria. And pretty much every one of them will offer similar things: timely delivery, budget-friendly, search engine optimization, cross-browser compatibility, etc.
A Few Words of Caution!
We recommend you take some of these promises with a bit of caution. Not all WordPress web design agencies provide all listed services in-house. And others are not very good at what they do; look at all the crappy business websites out there!
Here is a word of advice on where to look for your web design agency. First, of course, many business owners head straight to Craigslist. However, please be aware that most professional WordPress web design agencies do not list their services on Craigslist. The lack of reliable web design agencies leaves you with a pool of questionable amateurs at best.
Suppose you want to find the best possible web design agency for your project. In that case, we recommend you check out professional service directories such as Top Digital Agency, Clutch.co, Expertise, and UpCity. You will find service providers like us on all three!
How to Evaluate a Web Design Agency
Many business owners don’t know what to look for in a reliable web design agency, making it harder for them to evaluate. While there may be many more factors you need to consider for your specific project, there are always the basics. We grouped them into three basic categories for evaluating a web design agency to make it even easier for you.
Specializes in Mobile-First Design
In 2021 mobile-first web design is essential! No matter what type of business you have or the service you provide, your website visitors will use mobile devices at least some of the time.
According to Google, more than half of all searches originate on a mobile device. For most people, their iPhone is the preferred way to access the Internet. This simple fact means your site must look and function great on mobile.
Mobile-first design enables your website to adapt or respond to the size of a screen without losing its look and feel by focusing on how it looks on a small screen first. It is much easier to build a website for larger screen sizes. Be sure your chosen service provider focuses on mobile-first design standards and practices.
Is a Full-Service Agency
Most likely, your project will require more than one service. Maybe you need help with content strategy, copywriting, and editing. Building a new website is ideal for refreshing your logo and adding some new graphic design elements. If you plan to open an online store, you need a range of e-commerce solutions.
And in today’s competitive online marketplace, many businesses expect search engine optimization to be part of their project. In addition, once your mobile-first website launches, you may require website hosting and support services.
WordPress web design agencies usually offer this type of service since it requires a team of developers, designers, and marketing experts. Unfortunately, while it is not impossible, it is doubtful that you will find an individual service provider who is good at all these skills.
But be aware of potential outsourcing of services. Always ask your web design agency if they perform all services in-house.
Uses a Content Management System (CMS)
The most fantastic new mobile-first website will not do you much good if you cannot quickly update it yourself. Having a Content Management System (or CMS) that allows the business owner to update the site easily will make life a lot simpler.
Building a static HTML site means you will have to go back to the designer for any updates. Be sure to ask your Web design agency if they use a CMS and if so, which one. We recommend WordPress, but there are other options.
Can Handle Technical Requirements
Perhaps your project has a unique feature or particular requirement. Your web design agency must be proficient with the web technologies your project will require. We believe it is better to engage a professional service provider who can provide all the things you need instead of a jack-of-all-trades. So be sure to mention any technical requirements as part of your evaluation process.
Many business owners fall victim to envisioning their website based on their expectations instead of their audience. Unfortunately, misguided expectations can lead to instances where design far outweighs any content considerations. And that doesn’t work! Having a “pretty” website is pointless unless it engages your visitors and converts them.
Conversions are actions you want your visitors to take, such as filling out a form, clicking a link, or calling your business. Conversion elements are an essential part of web design because they help your visitor engage with the site. Make sure you hire a web design agency that understands how to optimize your conversion rate.
Has Relevant Case Studies
Before you select a reliable web design agency, check out any available web design case studies. It can be beneficial to find out how they worked with a similar business to yours and the results they were able to provide.
When you evaluate your web design agency, learn a little about their past projects from their existing clients. Ask the agency for client testimonials and references and make it a point to check them.
Ask clients whether they were responsive, on time, and within budget. Keep in mind that some references may only be willing to provide general info. In that case, case studies may provide additional information.
Keeps Up with Trends
OK, let’s go through this together. You have decided to get a new site because you want to be relevant. That means your web design agency should at least be familiar with all the latest web design trends. Not only will that help your new site appear fresh and up-to-date, but it will also help you avoid common web design flaws.
Has a Great Portfolio That You Like
You most likely have some vision for your mobile-first website. And that includes what type of web design style appeals to you! However, suppose you want to make that vision a reality. In that case, it helps if your potential web design agency has a similar design style. To find out for sure, you need to take a good look at their website and portfolio.
Make sure that your web design agency’s overall design style matches your vision and expectations. That includes their website. Designers set in their way may not be willing to adapt to new ideas.
Others who are just starting may not yet have a well-developed eye for design. We have encountered many websites offering web design services with hideous websites.
Test out previously launched websites to ensure that they are user-friendly, error-free, and suitable for their target market. Any professional website should pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test and get at least a passing page speed score on Pingdom or GTMetrix.
If a web design agency failed to meet Google guidelines in the past, they would not likely do better in your case.
Cost and Budget Expectations
Let’s get this right out at the beginning. Whether you are looking for a brand-new website, a simple redesign, or a complete update of your e-commerce platform, you have a budget figure in mind.
And so does any reliable web design agency. The trick is to make sure these two sets of expectations line up. It is essential to consider both your required options and functionality and your anticipated cost or budget.
Here at PixoLabo, we always get a kick when we get a call, and the first thing the caller asks is: “How much for a website?” We tell them, “A Million Dollars! If you provide some additional details, it becomes one hell of a lot cheaper!”
Websites come in all kinds of configurations, can have one or hundreds of pages, and be simple bits of information or advanced online communities. And all of that comes at different price points, of course.
The “Ouch” Moment
Hiring a reliable web design agency comes at a cost. And that cost may be pretty high, based on your requirements. And the more services your web design agency must provide, the more it will cost. So here are some primary website cost considerations to help you understand better.
Of course, we all want the best possible deal, but the old “you get what you pay for” saying applies to WordPress web design. There are several free web design options, but for a mobile-first site, expect to pay somewhere around $4000 and up.
When investing this type of money into a site, you can expect better design and functionality that is just not available in a free or low-cost theme or template. Unfortunately, once again, the cheapest quote is rarely the best.
Process and Timeline
All web design or other creative projects have a deadline or at least some preferred time range in which you would like to complete your project. But be aware of impossible delivery times. Unfortunately, many inexperienced service providers promise unrealistic delivery deadlines to gain business.
It does not matter how simple your mobile-first website design or redesign is. It is almost impossible for the design process (from concept to completion) to take less than three to four weeks. There will always be revisions, waiting for content, and a slew of other unforeseen things.
Knowing upfront what the timeline and process will save you stress, delays, and potential extra costs later. Ask your Web design agency what the timeline and expectations for your project are. Be sure that you can hold up your end of the bargain; we have seen many projects take longer because the client was busy with other priorities.
Customer Service Expectations
As you select a reliable web design agency, make sure the level of customer service and communication style matches your expectations. Sometimes it is less critical to get a perfect product than great support from your service provider.
Make sure you understand how your web design agency works with clients. For example, can you meet with them in person, or will communication be online only? Do they communicate by phone or email? What kind of response time can you expect?
It does not matter how fantastic a web design agency is. If they cannot respond to your calls or emails promptly during business hours, they most likely cannot meet your deadline. Missed deadlines can cause significant problems for your business if your project is time-critical due to something like a product launch.
How an agency communicates is an indication of its customer service. Therefore, communication skills are just as critical as web design and coding skills. You may find the most incredible web design agency ever. Still, if they don’t communicate well in the beginning, your project is headed for trouble. You can quickly evaluate their communication skills through your initial calls, emails, and project proposal.
Suppose your web design agency uses bad grammar or has spelling mistakes in their emails to you. In that case, your website will likely contain them as well. Do they articulate issues well? Can they translate complicated technical jargon into laymen’s terms? Are they responsive to your needs, and do they respond to your messages in a timely fashion?
Once again, communication is a two-way street. If you want your web design agency to communicate effectively, you must be willing to do the same. We have seen many projects linger and fall behind schedule because the client did not respond in a timely fashion.
Therefore, it helps establish some communication guidelines and expectations at the beginning of a project.
Respect for The Client
As the business owner, you know your business better than anyone else. Sharing your insights is extremely valuable for the overall design and development process. When you interview designers, make sure they listen to your ideas and respect you as the client.
Sure, they are the “creatives,” but you are paying the bill! So your voice needs to be heard. But remember, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need the input of your web design agency.
Willing to Provide Suggestions
On the other hand, any reliable web design agency should be able and willing to share its ideas. You are hiring them as professionals to design and build a critical part of your business success, your online presence!
You don’t want a “yes man/woman.” You want a creative partner to bring your company’s online presence alive. If your agency blindly agrees to everything you say, they are not interested in your business success; they are interested in your check.
Once again, these things tend to go both ways. Remember, you are engaging a web design agency for professional advice. At the very least, you should listen to their advice and recommendations.
Of course, you don’t have to follow every bit of it. None of us follow everything our doctor recommends either, do we? But if your standard response to any suggestion from your web design agency is “That won’t work for me!” why are you talking to one in the first place?
Social Media Presence
Make sure to check your web design agency’s social presence. The ones we recommend you look at are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Suppose you are interested in more samples of an agency’s work. In that case, you may also want to check their Instagram and Pinterest profiles.
While this is not an indication of design skills, social media profiles can reveal how trustworthy and authoritative a web design agency is. Check to make sure they update relevant content regularly, their profiles are complete with all info, and their followers or likes count seems reasonable.
Finding a Reliable Web Design Agency
And there you have it, our basic recommendations and evaluating process for finding a reliable web design agency. Once again, these are pretty basic. You may have some particular requirements for your project that we have not covered in this post.
But for most of you, the above should be a reasonable basis for finding a suitable web design agency for your next project.
Of course, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble and have our team design an effective mobile-first website for you. So, if you are looking for a reliable web design agency, let’s talk.
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of business website consulting and WordPress web design services, including website design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, and WordPress optimization.
And if you are still not sure how to find a reliable web design agency for your next project, let’s talk. We will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine if we are a good fit for your WordPress web design needs or if we should help you find a different design partner!
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Not Your Average WordPress Web Design Agency