Finding a web design company is tough. If you do a Google Search, you will find 2,350,000,000 results for the keywords "web design. Seriously! Try it yourself! How do you select the company that is right for you?
Finding the right web design is a combination of factors that are mostly subjective. The bottom line is, how comfortable are you with the feedback you are receiving?
To get that feedback, what are the questions you should ask? You are interviewing a perspective company because you are hiring them to design. The first question is simple and very important:
Who owns the website and content?
This may seem like an odd question. However, in my time in this industry, I have heard from many many people that moved forward with a company, only to find out that after paying them thousands of dollars to produce a developed website, the company that did the work owned the design, software and content. The only way to get your website is to buy it back. Read your contract! If you are paying for a website, you should own it!
At One Web Company, we maintain that if you have paid for it, then you own it. The one caveat to that is our Budget Website Development service, which has a hosting requirement. But it also has an associated end date, after which our clients receive full access to their site and control panel.
What happens if I don't like the design you produce?
Many times, design firms will provide one or more mockups for you to select from. Occasionally, design firms will miss the mark, and what happens in that case? Make sure that there is an option to have the proposed design completely scrapped so that a second attempt can be made without it costing you additional funds!
Will the design that is produced function across all devices?
There are two ways this can be handled, either with a responsive website design, or with an alternative mobile view. It is important that you have a mobile interface to your website. Mobile search saw a dramatic increase last year, and desktop searches declined for the first time. When you have a mobile view of your website, your visitors are more likely to convert to clients.
How will the site be programmed?
Ok, this isn't specifically a design question, but it is important none the less. A website can be programmed in many different ways:
- Commercial or Open Source Content Management System (CMS) based using a program such as Joomla, Word Press or Mod-X, to name a few
- Custom Programmed CMS
- Straight HTML
The critical things to keep in mind when asking this question are:
- Usability - Will my site be easy to use?
- Maintenance - Will my site be easy to maintain?
- Control - How much control do I have over the display?
What is your design PHILOSOPHY for my project?
From the time you receive a proposal through the completion of your project, a web design and development company has a plan to deliver the final product to you. Having a plan will produce better results. You can inquire about the company's general design and development plan. If they can't answer this question, move along!
Bonus question - What do you expect from me?
Having worked in this industry since the advent of the World Wide Web, I am often surprised at how many people I have talked with that had an experience like this:
I hired a company to build my website. I sent them menu items and content, but did not have any input on the final implemented design!
Design is a fully interactive process. A design company can leverage their knowledge and experience when making recommendations about your site design, but ultimately, you have to be happy with the design that was produced since your website will be a representation of your business! If your company is not asking questions about what you want in your website including colors, imagery, Service and Product areas, you should think seriously about whether to hire them!