With 97% of people learning more about a local company online than anywhere else, there is no arguing the importance of a modern-day business website.
Once you decide to create or redesign a new website for your business, one of your foremost concerns would be hiring the right web designer who is up to the task.
Research shows that 94% of first impressions relate to your site's web design, so you know the stakes are high.
Choosing a web design company can either make your website a huge success leading to increased visitors and sales or break it, leaving your business misunderstood, with a negative impression, and worse hard to find online.
So, how do you filter out the best from the rest?
Here is a list of questions you can ask to help you choose the right design company:
Do they have experience in your industry?
Each industry will have unique features, apps, policies, and information that a web designer needs to understand. For example, accounting firms have regulations around testimonials. Realtors need an MLS feed to display property listings. Schools have a very extensive site map with many pages of content to consider.
Do they have a marketing mindset?
Please, if you read nothing else, read this. The job of your website is to attract and convert a user into a buyer. It's a marketing tool. Surprisingly, we have found that many web designers don't understand marketing and build a site from a structural and functional standpoint. As a result, the site doesn't inspire and move a visitor to action. You can build a simple website for free online yourself.
Take the time to talk to your web designer candidates about their branding and marketing approach. Ask them how they will help drive visitation and sales from the website. They should be considering brand consistency, message, user experience, and SEO (search engine optimization).
Want to learn more about the power of SEO and have a baseline understanding so you can talk this with web designers? Check out this article, SEO for Small Business Websites.
Is copywriting and imagery placement included?
As stated above, some web designers will build the frame using copy (words on the site) and imagery placeholders and leave the heavy lifting to you. And if you are like most business owners and managers, you don't write website copy every day, so this is no small task.
There is art and science to writing brand and marketing language and using visual cues to inspire the audience to action. The hard work in web design is transforming the site into a sales machine, creating a clear and compelling story that is equally as attractive as it is effective.
What CMS do they use?
Static HTML websites are a thing of the past. Modern websites are designed using content management systems (CMS) such as Wix, Shopify, WordPress, Squarespace, and Weebly. Without a CMS, you'll find yourself helpless when you want to upgrade or make any edit to your site.
At Ellie Brands, our CMS of choice for small business websites is Wix. After building over 100 sites on Wix, we are 100% confident that it is the right platform for the job. Want to know why? Please read our article on why Wix is the right CMS for small businesses.
Are they proficient with Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design (the site scales itself to fit any screen size) is table stakes these days, but surprisingly there are still websites that don't have this feature. Check to see what yours looks like on any device with an online responsiveness checker.
Mobile design should be approached separately. Ask the designer what best practices they will use to build your mobile site.
Do they offer ongoing maintenance and optimization services?
Building a website is hard work, but just as much effort goes into maintaining and optimizing it. Web design professionals who know what they are doing would happily extend the engagement through ongoing optimization, editing, and performance-measuring services. And they can tailor the packages based on your needs. If you have continuing edits like a restaurant would with promotions and menu changes, you may want monthly editing hours. Or, if you are digitally savvy, you may want the ability to do this yourself. In that case, make sure you ask the designer if and how you can do it independently.
Ask for a portfolio of their most recent work.
Nothing speaks louder than experience. Check out their portfolio to better understand style, approach, design, and technical expertise.
A few things to look at:
Individuality Do the sites all have a similar template? This can be a sign that they are using a cookie-cutter approach, and you'll risk having a site that looks just like everyone else's.
Simplicity Today's consumer wants a clear and easy website experience. Are they using well-crafted and simple messages throughout? Achieving more with less?
Unique Mobile Design: Look at the mobile sites to see how they are crafted uniquely with larger text, selective content, and an easy menu. Are their unique experiences or is it a shrunk-down version of the desktop site?
Great Photography: An experienced designer will encourage you to capture high-quality photos for your site to increase engagement and credibility. If the sites are full of stock/ generic photos, it's a sign that the designer isn't guiding the client.
Choosing a designer for your website isn’t going to be quick, but finding a good partner is worth the wait. Using these tips for searching for a web design partner can allow you to create a website that not only looks fantastic but is also optimized for conversions to help your revenue soar.
Is your business in need of web design services? Do you need branding and marketing support? A new brand built from scratch or a rebrand? If so, contact Ellie Brands today.