In order for you to align yourself with the ideal web design company you’ll need to put in some serious research hours scouring the web. There are bucket loads of agencies with different styles, expertise, niches and value propositions for which you have to compare. To help arm you with some curly questions to fire at them, we’ve put together a short list of questions for you to digest before you take aim. We would expect nothing less.

What are the design companies doing and saying?

The typical starting point is the web search for design portfolios. Try and refrain from getting mesmerised by the endless images of stunning screen-shots, instead take a good look at the accompanying copy or blurb with each project.  Assess the similarities of your project requirements versus the deliverables on the featured website.

One of the best sources of information about the happenings of a web design company is their blog. Read or bookmark a couple of their articles, usually ones that you are interested in or answer some of your challenges. Feel free to ask for clarification if they offer a comments field and see what kind of response you get back. There’s no harm subscribing to their blog to get instant notification of new articles.

Another good way to digital stalk a prospective supplier is follow them on social platforms such as Twitter and Linkedin. You will begin to see more evidence on what projects they are working on, which technologies and best practices they are using and what their culture is like.

How does their online reputation fair?

Keep an eye-out for genuine testimonials on their site, these are becoming more and more visually prominent onsite and an important tool to convey trust. Pick up the phone and check the authenticity of some of the testimonies, there is almost always a link to the clients site.

Seek out some online reviews or social forums that converse with or scrutinise the web design company. Peruse the ‘meet the team’ or ‘about us’ section of their site and suss out the expertise and experience of the leadership group and the subordinate technical team members. For a more detailed investigation into the calibre of personel that are likely to work on your project turn to Linkedin. You can hunt down the strategist, designers and developers through the company profile page.

Do you trust them once youve get to know them?

Getting to know a web design company is easier than you think. It’s a competitive industry and companies will jump at the chance to meet with you and scope out your project. To get the ball rolling you can leave a web enquiry on the contact us page and wait for a response. Gauge how important you are to them with their response time, their approach and the level of interest they show in getting to know and understand your business.

Meet with them at their office so you can see how their business operates, get a feel for the way they do things and get an insight into their corporate culture. A speed dating version of this meet and greet is a trade show or conference. Get along to a design, development or technologies event and start networking, putting some business to faces and faces to names.

Are they the right fit for your project?

It’s good to read up on their philosophy or mantra to first see if you believe it, and second if it compliments the vision you have for your website. Web design companies are great at communicating this on their ‘process’ page which is the new hip version of the old ‘core values’ page.

It is often the best approach to find a specialised company if you have very specific or unique project needs. A good example would be if a customer requires a multi-storefront website with different design, functionality and pricing for wholesalers vs online shoppers. An appropriate web design company for this project would need to have eCommerce specific staff with the knowledge and skill-set to work with specialised platforms such as Magento to deliver this solution.

The obvious and final fit is the budget. You will still need cash left over for web hosting, SEO and digital marketing to get targeted traffic to your new and shiny website.

Can they supply you with a bespoke solution?

A web design company that is worth pursuing is one that fully understands the nature of the project through detailed collaboration with the customer. Every web build is different; projects are aimed at unique markets with different UX design needs, fulfil different functions or purposes and acquire a tailored online and offline marketing mix.

Web design companies that have a full suite of professionals covering Brand, Marketing, SEO, Social, Design, UX, Development, CRO, eMarketing etc will be better positioned to deliver a website that not only hits the mark aesthetically but performs the desired function that will yield an ROI for the client. After all, the website is a marketing tool to grow/increase brand awareness, traffic, leads, conversions or sales.

A professional web design company should be offering advice on an overall marketing plan, help collaborate on an SEO strategy that follows the rules set out by Google, consult on banner advert placements and chip in with ideas concerning content and social media opportunities.

What is their commitment to you?

During the build will the web design company involve you and after the launch will they be around to help with bug fixes and teething?  A transparent web partner that opens up direct, honest and two-way communication with the production team is what you should envision for your partnership. Add to that some sort of one-on-one CMS training for your web, IT, marketing and merchandising teams.

Make sure you iron-out what success means for your business and get the design company to measure their project success against yours. Pick a couple of tangible metrics and get them laser-focused from the get-go on achieving these e.g. increase in conversions, reach page one in SERPS, rank for multiple keywords, lower bounce rate, repeat traffic etc. Doing this absolutely sets the goal posts for what you want to achieve.

Don’t settle for a web design company, look for a web partner, a team that will offer ongoing solutions to changing design and technology challenges. There is no shortage of online hurdles, the most recent being the Mobile Friendly Google algorithm update release last month. If your interested in putting our enquiry response time to the test or curious about our approach in getting to know our clients, contact us at hello@birdbrain.com.au.