Picking the best web design company

With the internet and e-commerce an increasingly essential part of almost all businesses, web design has taken on a greater level of importance in recent years. You can, of course, build your own site and there are packages and pre-made templates to allow you to do this. In many cases though there’s no substitute for having a site built professionally.

But how do you go about choosing a web designer, what do you look for and what questions should you be asking?

Who Does What?

When you start to look at getting a website built, you’ll encounter several different kinds of people at specialist agencies like http://www.rouge-media.com/, and it’s important to understand the difference. A web designer takes care of the look of your site – the page layout, colours, graphics, text style, navigation, how pages link to each other and so on. The designer might also do the actual coding and graphic design work for the site, but in many cases other people will do this, in which case the designer will take on a project management role.

You may also, therefore, encounter web programmers, who take the ideas from the designer and generate the computer code needed to make the site work. The programmer therefore does all of the technical stuff. Commonly this is now done via some sort of content management platform like WordPress or Drupal rather than actually writing code, though some coding may be used to provide specific customisations for the site.

It’s quite common to use a specialist graphic artist or designer to create the artwork for the site too. They will take care of colours and layouts, as well as sourcing or creating graphics, logos, photos, etc. You will need to work with them on creating and maintaining an overall image for your brand.

If you need text for your pages a copywriter may be needed. You can do this yourself, hire an independent professional or have the web design company find one for you.

Finally, you may encounter an online marketing consultant who will help you fit your website into your overall marketing and sales strategy. They will also help you optimise your site and generate traffic which will translate into sales.

Selecting a Web Design Company

The first thing a web designer should seek to do is to understand your business. They need to know what you do, who your customers are and what you want the website to achive. You should, therefore, pay careful attention to the questions they ask you as well as the things you need to ask them.

Take a look at the portfolio of other work that they have done. You’re looking for evidence not just of good design and ease of use, but also of how well they’ve interpreted the needs of the customer. Do all of their sites follow a similar patter, or is there a wide range of designs reflecting the needs of the clients?

Ask how much of the work on a site they do in-house. Do they, for example, just do the coding and contract out work like copywriting and graphic design? If the latter then how much input would you have in choosing who they use?

Look too at how the design process is structured – you would expect them to minute any discussions that you have, turn this into a design brief and get you to agree and sign off on what’s going to happen before work on the actual site begins.

Creating a website is about a lot more than building the site itself. You’ll need to think about marketing and search engine optimisation, to ensure that you get a site that delivers on your business objectives. Again, ask to see other work they’ve done in this area and see if you can speak to existing clients.

It’s important to look at the budget you have for building a site and how it will be spent too. Some designers will offer a fixed price deal for putting together a simple site. If you need something more complex then find out how they will bill you. A common way is to agree milestones and pay in instalments as they are met.

If you want ongoing maintenance and updates of the site then you may have to pay a monthly fee to cover changes. Alternatively, if you want to maintain the site yourself – things like adding new products or changing prices – then make sure you get an explanation of how it works and documentation to allow you to do this. Think too about what support you may need if things go wrong.

A website is a key part of your business, so it’s important to plan carefully. Choosing a good designer will ensure that you get the right site at the right budget.