How to Hire a Web Design Company
It can be difficult to know where to start when choosing a company or consultant to build and maintain your website. Here’s a look at some key considerations when evaluating a web design firm.
Marketing and business best practices 101 state that you absolutely need to have a website. Many customers will not even consider a service provider unless they have a website. However, it does not stop there, potential customers will compare websites with competitors and if they do not believe your website is up-to-date, modern, or clear to read, they will go elsewhere. So as a result, it is important to create, maintain and keep your website fresh.
However, as website design has become an all-important industry, it can be difficult to know where to start when choosing the right company or consultant to build and maintain your website. This article will explore how to hire a Web Design company that fits your business needs.
What Is Web Design
Web design encompasses anything design-related within websites. This includes graphic design, user interface and user experience (also known as UI/UX), and coding. Typically, web design does not include software development, as that is its own category. However, there are certain areas of overlap, and when looking for a web designer, you should look for a company that is familiar with that component of websites.
What Web Design Services Do I Need?
The services that you need for your business depend on several factors: the type of business you have if you have a website, the age of your current website, and how you want your website to function. Here are some typical services you can expect from a web design company:
Graphic design is the visual art of creating visual content to express an idea or message. Within traditional marketing, graphic design is used to brand a company. Within the scope of web design, a graphic designer will either create or follow your company’s branding which includes logo, typography, color schemes, and themes. When a potential client comes to your website, it should be clear by the look that they know it is your business and what your message is. It is vital that you choose a web designer with a background or access to graphic design.
Responsive UI/UX Design
UI/UX is the process of creating a digital space that is visually pleasing and easy to use. Websites are not stagnant. When a customer comes to your website, they expect to click links, see videos, scroll through pages, and find content easily. You do not want a customer coming to your website and leaving immediately; you want them to click around to see your services and what you are about. A quality UI/UX designer builds a website that is easy and fun to use. Additionally, they are responsible for ensuring that your website works on all platforms, including desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.
Expertise In Website Creation
There are a plethora of open-source website creation platforms that are available now, with WordPress being one of the most common. Because of this, web designers typically use these platforms instead of having to create one from scratch. It is not a necessity for your designer to use WordPress, but it is highly recommended that they are an expert in one of these platforms, because of the usability and templates of these systems. Should you need to make instant content updates to your websites, a platform like WordPress has a CMS that will make it easy for a web novice to use.
Web designers understand the importance of concise messaging. While you will be providing content to your designer, they should have expertise on messaging and what will work with your audience. This is a skill that comes with any marketer and comes in various degrees. However, whichever designer you chose should have this as a service.
Many websites have a retail component. Should your company be one that has a retail arm, you will want to hire someone who has expertise in eCommerce. There are many eCommerce platforms that easily integrate into open-source website creation platforms. An example of this would be WooCommerce integrating into a WordPress website. However, for this to work well and be easy for the user, you would need an expert web designer.
A web hosting service is the connector between you, your website, and the world wide web. For your website to be accessible to anyone who uses a search engine or types in a URL, you need to have your website with a domain name. A good web designer would have access to a quality hosting site and build this maintenance into your contract.
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Creating A New Website Vs Redesigning A Website
If you are an established business, it is likely that you already have a website that is up and running; but now you are looking to freshen it up. How do you know if you need to just have your current website updated or if you need a whole new website? Here are some things to consider:
How Long Has It Been Since You Last Updated Your Website?
If it has been quite a while since you have updated or optimized your website, then making small changes on the backend HTML coding may not be possible, especially if the website platform you are using is also outdated.
Does The Website Reflect Your Companies’ Values And Brand?
You may have gone through a major rebrand or it could have been a while since you updated your website. Either way, you have decided that your website is not reflecting your company any longer. In these situations, you most likely would create a whole new website so you have an opportunity to create something you love from scratch, rather than retrofitting it into your old website.
What Kind Of Functionality Do You Have On Your Website?
If you are looking to simply update the general look and some content of your website, then a new website is not necessary. However, if you are now looking to create multiple web pages, integrating an API, or create large changes, the web platform you currently have may not be able to make those adjustments. It is also possible that it might be simpler and cheaper to create a whole new website from scratch rather than retrofitting an old one.
Should I Hire A Full-Service Agency Long-Term Or Temporarily Outsource A Web Design Consultant?
Websites constantly need to be maintained and updated. The marketplace is ever-changing and so are usability, aesthetics, and functionality. However, that does not mean that you need to pay for a full-service agency long-term to keep your website up to date. If you are a small to midsize business, with basic website needs, then hiring a freelance web design consultant is adequate for your needs. It is likely that your website will only need changes occasionally, and a consultant can easily teach you how to make content changes to our site (e.g., if you need to change a deadline or date) so that you do not need to constantly ask for support. However, if you are a larger business and/or have multiple websites, you may need to hire a full-service agency with a long-term contract. While you can certainly make content changes on your websites, these content changes can be time-consuming and will not include creating landing pages, ensuring forms are working correctly, or launching a new product page. It is highly recommended to hire a full-service agency for these needs.
Full-Service Agency Long-Term
Long-term service web designers are a great asset if you have a lot of websites to maintain, have a lot of integrations within your site, or are launching new products consistently. The agency will act as an in-house employee, in the sense that they will be working with you daily to make sure the websites are updated, coming up with marketing plans, and drafting new designs and content. If you hire a quality and trustworthy full-service agency, they will act and feel like one of your employees.
If you are a small business owner or one that does not anticipate having a lot of maintenance or updates to your website, then hiring a full-service web design agency is not necessary. While it is great to have this level of service, they are costly. They are also an outside agency so while they may feel like an employee or co-worker, the reality is that they are not. As with hiring any freelancer or outside agency, there are inherent security risks to consider.
Why You Should Hire A Web Design Company
Unless you own a large business that has resources and funds to hire a web design department, the choice is obvious—outsource your software development needs to an agency or freelancer. The pros outweigh the cons, most importantly the cost.
To effectively run web design in-house, you would need to find someone who not only has experience in web design but software design as well. These two areas of expertise often work hand in hand. While it is certainly possible to find that person, the cost, and time to find that person along with someone who shares your company’s values is unnecessary. Outsourcing this service is easy, effective and will save you money in the long run. By hiring the right agency, you will have the right person or team with the necessary skills to complete your project quickly and efficiently.
Hiring A Web Design Company Vs. Consultant
You may have decided that you are ready to hire a web design company. Now here are some questions and answers that will help guide you with your search:
How Much Does It Cost To Design And Develop A Website?
There are two cost structures for designing and developing websites: hourly or flat rate.
- Hourly rate: This rate can vary from $30-$80 solely for design work and $100-$180 for development work.
- Flat rate: The average cost of a basic website is $6,750.
Hourly rates are typically used for the maintenance needs of a website or if you are creating a very basic website and do not anticipate much support after that.
When developing and designing a website, you will typically see web designers charge a flat rate, with a contract that includes a project management plan. The fees will include setup, design and building, content creation, client training, and maintenance. In addition to the cost of the partner you choose, there will be additional costs such as web domain and web hosting, which usually incur an annual fee to maintain the URL and securely hosting the site on the world wide web.
How To Find A Web Design Partner For Your Business Needs
UpCity has this taken care of for you. We have curated a list of agencies that will fit your needs. If you are looking for an award-winning firm, you can also find them here.
Likewise, take some time to read reviews across many different locations on the web to get a feel for what working with these partners is like and if they might be a good fit with your organization.
And then there’s good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Reach out to your network and ask who they have used for their development needs in the past. This is where you will likely get the most candid responses, which is important when considering an investment of this magnitude.
Skills To Look For In A Web Design Partner
Creativity And Quality Design
You are hiring this designer to design a website that is exciting and fun to look at. Look at the agency’s website portfolio. If you do not like their previous work, do not choose them. We also suggest taking a deep look at their website. If their website does not function or seem easy to use, then it is very likely that any website they create for you will have similar issues.
Testing And Ability To Fix Bugs
If you choose a quality web designer, then it is unlikely issues will arise on your website, especially if they have been using an open-source website creation platform. However, when going through the process of finding a designer, ensure that they have a rigorous testing process before going live and then have a clear SOP on how to fix any issues or maintenance requests that may arise after launch.
Unfortunately, there are hackers out there. You will want to choose a web designer that has a basic understanding of security for websites. While designers are not developers, they should be able to at least use secure platforms to create and host your website.
Questions To Ask When Choosing A Web Designer
In general, here are some questions you should ask when looking for a designer:
- What is your specialty?
- Are you a full-service agency or do you specialize?
- What is your pricing structure?
Not all web designers are the same. Some specialize in a certain type (e.g., eCommerce), some may specialize in a certain industry (e.g., health care), and many have different price points and packages (monthly, yearly, ad hoc). Before asking these questions of the agency, go through this exercise yourself:
Contract Structure And Scope Of Web Design Projects
If you have already decided to hire a web design company or consultant, you can expect them to gather information, identify key opportunities, and use the information collected to build out the deliverables, all of which would be included in a contract.
The company will create the contract but it should include the following:
- A clear statement of work
- Project Management Proposal, which will include the scope of work
- Contingencies in the event that work is terminated by either party
- Protections for your business and the designer’s business, including security measures and copyright.
One area that is key is the scope of work. This should clearly lay out what work both you and the designer are expecting to be completed, and if ever there is work outside of the initial scope, what the costs and plans would be.
After signing with an agency, you can expect: