A new website that’s highly functional, highly visible in Google and easy-to-use can work wonders for your business, and if that’s what you’re after, you’re going to need a website design company to get the job done.
You may be tempted to tackle the website yourself using a website builder, but unless you have a flair for design and savvy troubleshooting skills, you’ll almost certainly fall short. An amateur looking site will get a negative response from users, because people can tell when something hasn’t been done professionally. You’re also opening the door for all sorts of performance issues and faulty functionality. And on top of that, the project will suck up all your time that’s probably best spent elsewhere.
By choosing to hire a website design company with website development experience, you can be sure they know what they’re doing. They’ll know what it takes to get your site not only looking right, but functioning well, using the latest design trends, optimal coding languages and user experience principles. The final product will not only look professional, but act the part too. Plus, the pros will free up your time so you can focus on your business and customers.
So you’ve decided to hire a website design company. Where should you start, and what is there to look for? In this article, we’re going to highlight 5 considerations to make when searching for a website design company.
Development skill and experience
When searching for a website design company, one of the most important factors to consider is the experience and skill of the development team. After all, they’re the one applying the elbow grease to make your site look like art and run like a well-oiled machine. And if something goes wrong, it pays to have the best of the best on your side.
It can be hard to know what to look for in a development team. Ultimately, everything depends on what you need done. Are you in need of a simple website? An e-commerce store? A fully custom web app for your great idea? A mobile app? Different design agencies will have different capabilities. Here are a few things to look out for/questions you can ask before making a decision:
If your site is more complex, you will want a development team that knows the native language of the CMS you are using. In the case of WordPress and Drupal, it’s PHP. You will also want members of the development team to be familiar with the specific helper functions associated with that CMS. Developing in PHP for a WordPress site is different than a Drupal site, even though they use the same language. Knowing how each CMS works behind the scenes will smooth out the development process.
When it comes to database features, should you use pre-built plug-ins and the CMS database or build a custom database? You need to consider scalability, extensibility and performance to match your potential business growth.
Has the agency built e-commerce stores before? What platform did they use? (WordPress, Shopify etc.). A development team should be familiar with the coding languages used for their e-commerce stores. With WordPress a common plugin to use is WooCommerce, which is, again, written in PHP. For Shopify it’s Ruby along with Liquid (a templating language). Does the team have experience with this?
When it come to custom development, you’ll want a team that’s able to customize certain features, add on functions to extend the website, and troubleshoot tricky problems. In this case, the specific coding language matters less than experience in whatever the requirements are. Does the company have a track record of building custom web apps? Another question to consider asking is if they have ever had to rescue someone’s site/web app. It can be hard to know out of the gate if a company has failed to develop an app properly and, therefore, has lost clients, but if the agency consistently rescues and fixes poorly built sites/web apps then this is a strong vote of confidence.
Mobile App Development
If a mobile app makes sense then, of course, you will want a company whose built them before. It’s best if mobile apps are written in their native languages (Swift for iOS and Java/Kotlin for Android). There are other solutions that allow one code base to used for both Apple and Android apps (React Native or .NET MAUI for example). While this might speed up development not all iOS and Android features are supported. If a specific performance tweak is needed, using the native languages will give you more control.
Dedicated SEO team
What good is a new website if your customers aren’t able to find you? As often the case with website design companies and home-made sites, that project is often left alone once the site is live. But without proper attention to search engine optimization (SEO) and an ongoing strategy post launch, your site won’t be easy to find in Google search results.
What is SEO?
SEO is a set of best practices, principles and strategies that help a website become more visible to search engines like Google and others. The stronger your SEO and higher your visibility, the better chance visitors and customers will find your site. Trillions of searches are typed every year, and the majority of people who are looking for something start in their browser. With a solid SEO strategy, that’s your chance to grab extra traffic and connect people to your business.
The SEO basics
The world of SEO is a big one, and there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure your website succeeds out there. These various SEO tactics are generally organized into three buckets:
- Technical SEO:
- This is technical side of SEO that is very important in the early stages of your new website build. Technical SEO includes things like site structure, sitemap, page speed and mobile-friendliness.
- On-site SEO:
- The on-site aspects of SEO are typically handled by a dedicated SEO team once the foundation of the new website has gotten underway or completed, but before the site goes live. On-site SEO is focused heavily on keywords, and includes everything from meta descriptions, titles, URLs, titles, image alt text, linking, headings and more.
- Read more: How to Upgrade Your Content Marketing
- Off-site SEO:
- Off-site SEO happens outside your website, and can be a little more difficult to manage. A company with strong off-site SEO will have high levels of brand awareness, authority and trust. Social media, email marketing and branding assets can help advance an off-site SEO strategy.
How a website design company can help you with SEO
The time before your website is launched, the building phase is the most vital window for getting the right SEO practices in place. This is where your website development team and SEO team will work to get all the technical aspects of SEO right on your site. Once the technical side is solid, the SEO team should begin to optimize all your on-site SEO. When you’re confident your site is ready to go, that’s when an SEO prelaunch review should be conducted to make sure nothing has been left out.
If you have an existing site you’re looking to upgrade, this prelaunch process is crucial to maintain the SEO your old site has built up over the years. Without a transition plan and proper attention to SEO, your rankings and traffic could be lost during the transition.
Once your website is live, timing is critical. This is where your SEO team should immediately fix anything that has broken during the transition, and keep a close eye on Google Analytics and other tracking tools. The expectation is a completely seamless transition.
Once you’re happy with your new site and the transition has been executed, it’s time to start thinking about your SEO strategy going forwards. A digital marketing team can work with you to create blog posts, build new website pages and add other content that can help you earn more traffic.
Does the company have dedicated SEO Specialists?
It’s impossible for one person to know everything. So there’s a good chance that if your web developer or designer is in charge of leading SEO for your website, the strategy will end up less than optimal. That’s why it’s important to have dedicated SEO specialists. That way, you can rest assured your site will be launched with SEO best practices top of mind, and optimized over time to ensure your site is easily found in Google Search results. Not all website design companies have dedicated SEO specialists, so watch out for ones that do.
Personal attention & support
One of the more frustrating parts of working with most website design companies is that feeling of being totally abandoned and left in the dark once your site is completed and out the door. If something breaks or isn’t working properly on your site, or you need an update made, it can be a pain to get the prompt customer service that you need (or any at all). The truth is, many companies don’t dedicate enough resources to support.
At a full-service web shop, you will be able to have your small and urgent requests handled in a timely manner. Plus you’ll often have access to in-house website hosting and email hosting working in unison with your website development team. It’s also worth considering the level of support you need and expect from your website design company. If something were to break, it’s comforting knowing your web company can deal with requests immediately or escalate them directly to a development team, marketing team, or expert who will be able to help.
On top of a highly-skilled support team standing by at the ready, having a dedicated account manager can be instrumental for the process. They will act as your direct line of communication to developers, marketers, and designers, and will help connect you with the services and support you need.
Help with marketing & graphic design
Having a beautiful website that functions well is one thing, but it’s often not enough to reach your customers, wherever they are. With a dedicated marketing and graphic design team behind you that actually has knowledge of your site and how it works, you’ll be able to find customers you otherwise wouldn’t have. That’s where a full-service website design company that also specializes in marketing and graphic design can help.
Digital marketing options to consider
When it comes to digital marketing, there are plenty of directions to go. It all depends on what’s best for your business and your goals. But whichever way you decide to turn, having a dedicated marketing team can help.
- With expert SEO knowledge, digital marketing specialists can work with you to create highly targeted blog articles and other content focused on individual keywords, which will help you earn traffic and climb the rankings.
- Paid ads can be another cornerstone of your marketing strategy, that have the potential to generate huge return on investment. Your paid strategy can comprise of search ads targeted based off keywords, display ads targeted by demographic and behaviour, or a combination of both. Ads can be setup in Google and Facebook, so you’ll find your customers wherever they are.
- Another strategy that can be both highly successful for your business and fun, informative and valuable for your customers is email marketing. Aside from driving conversions, you can deliver news, announcements, exclusive deals to your audience. Your website design company can get you started in MailChimp, or other email marketing platforms.
- Social media is another marketing channel that shouldn’t be overlooked. It can help you deepen relationships and find new customers. Your website design company should be able to provide complete consultation and implementation when it comes to social.
Stay fresh with the help of graphic design
Graphic design has the power to bring your brand and business to the next level. Having consistent branding across your entire site, from the logo to the colour theme, graphic elements and text, helps you look more professional and credible. Plus, it just looks better.
>> Read more: Does your logo or brand need a makeover?
A good website design company will have a team of experienced graphic designers in-house, which means you won’t have to make any extra hires or outsource to benefit from exceptional quality design elements and images for your site, a new logo, or new visual content for ads and social media.
Get a feel for style and portfolio
The fifth and final consideration you should make when choosing a website design company for your new site is the portfolio. By taking a look at the portfolio of a web design shop, you can really get a feel for what their finished work looks like, what their style is, and which industries they specialize in making websites for.
By checking out a company’s portfolio, you may find out that they don’t have the capability to build e-commerce websites, their graphic design isn’t up to snuff, or something that doesn’t meet your standards.
A solid website design company should have a full portfolio on their site from past website projects, new mobile app builds, custom software development, e-commerce sites, and much more.
Ready to get started on your new website? Contact us today to get the ball rolling: