So, you’re a small business owner looking for a web design company that can build you a website at a reasonable price that outshines your competitors, right? Not to make too many assumptions, but you’ve also probably looked at or met with a few companies promising you just that. But you still have your doubts. Or maybe you’re just beginning your search. Wherever you’re at, you’ve landed here, and for good reason. You want to know that you’re making the right decision when it’s time to sign the contract. Because as a small business owner, every decision you make needs to feel like it’s moving you in the right direction. Every expense must be worth it and investments can’t fall short on returns. And a website is one of those investments that needs to pay off.
This guide will show you what to look for when choosing a web design company to build your new website. Being able to identify a few red flags and educating yourself on what makes a good website will allow you to ask the right questions and help you feel more confident in your decision making.
Custom Design VS Template Design: Know What You’re Getting
If you’ve considered building your own website, you’ve likely come across companies like Wix or Squarespace. These platforms allow you to make a website using one of their predesigned templates at a very low price. While a templated design website can be perfectly fine in some instances, say a personal portfolio or a blog, these types of sites are not suited for the demand of a small business that’s looking to grow and stand out from its competition. They just don’t offer the degree of customization and cyber security a professional business needs.
Custom design, however, doesn’t come with these kinds of issues. That’s because everything is hand built into the website, giving you the ability to create whatever kind of website you want. This allows you to create something that looks completely unique and has all the functionality you’re looking for. Of course, you won’t have to think all this up on your own. Companies that offer true custom web design are creative professionals. They’ll make suggestions for how to best achieve the look and feel you’re going for and provide design mock-ups that show exactly how the site will look before it’s built and launched.
Not All Web Design Companies Do Custom Design
Now, even if you’ve decided to hire a company to build your website, that doesn’t guarantee that the company you hire is going to give you a truly custom designed website. While some may advertise as offering “custom web solutions,” they still may use a template design. The so-called “customization” is most commonly performed by installing plug-ins that allow you to manipulate how content is laid out on the site.
While using a few plug-ins is fairly common, the problem with relying on them for creating design elements is that they are still limited in what they can provide and are highly prone to hacks and glitches. In short, plug-ins can lead to some major headaches.
Figuring out if a web design company actually offers true custom design can be done through several observations.
- Look at a lot of template designs. After taking a close look at 10-20 templates, you’ll start to notice patterns in their layout and functionality.
- Look at the company’s portfolio. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with template design, see if you can spot any in the company’s portfolio. Even if they tell you they don’t use templates, only being able to build websites that look like templates isn’t much better.
- Price. While you should always be on the lookout for a good deal, the price of a website is often indicative of the type of design and coding used to build it. Even a $1,000 to $3,000 website will likely use templated design work. Most good, custom-designed websites will be $5,000 and up. Price is of course determined by many factors, but you can expect a quality website to come within this range.
- If they tell you that what you’re asking for isn’t quite possible. As we mentioned, template design comes with many restrictions. If you start getting the sense that they won’t be able to do what you’re asking, it’s probably because their thinking of ways to give you something close to that. With a true custom web design company, your budget should be the only thing limiting what’s possible.
You can learn more about the differences between custom and template design by checking out our post on the pros and cons of custom and template design.
Make Sure They Can Design for Mobile and Desktop
As the mobile lifestyle continues to permeate throughout our culture, having a website that looks and works great on mobile devices is a must. Not only does this make your website easy to use on any device, it also ensures that your website isn’t penalized by search engines like Google or Bing. The main priority of a search engine is to present web pages that are both relevant and easy to view on the device a searcher is using.
This means that if someone is using their phone to look up “great Italian restaurants near me,” and you’re an Italian restaurant owner without a mobile friendly website, you likely won’t be among the first to show up. While there are many factors at play with search engine optimization (SEO), mobile friendliness carries a lot of weight.
Choose a Web Design Company that Also Does Marketing
Unfortunately, having an awesome looking website isn’t enough to bump up its traffic. This requires a lot of SEO work, pay-per-click campaigns, social media marketing, and, most of all, time. Having the same company that built your website also carry out its marketing has a lot of benefits.
- They already know your business and the products/services you offer.
- They’ll have a good idea of what keywords to target.
- They’ll be familiar with your brand.
- They know how the site was built, so making updates and changes will be easy.
- You already have the experience of working with them, so you’ll know what to expect.
- They can begin developing a marketing strategy while the website is still in production and have it ready to implement once the site is launched.
Hiring a company that can seamlessly transition your new website from production to marketing will help it get noticed much faster. Plus it will save you from having to go through the search process again.
Do They Have an In-House Team?
A web design company the doesn’t have an in-house designer or developer should be a big red flag. Far too many web design companies rely on outsourced work to get projects done. This often results in falling behind schedule, delayed responses, and a lesser quality product. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good idea to ask who their in-house team consists of and to check the staff bios on their website.
Make Sure It Feels Right
When all’s said and done, you want to go with a company you feel good about. While it might be tempting to go with the company that comes in at the lowest price, taking a careful look at each company’s proposal, their work, and reflecting on the vibe of the meeting are all important. You’ll likely be in contact with these people for the next month, possibly longer, so feeling confident in your business relationship will help keep the project on track and prevent any unexpected turns.
Now you’re ready. We hope you take what you’ve learned from this guide and find a web design company that’s perfect for you and your small business.