There’s a massive choice of web design companies out there – so how do you spot the diamonds and avoid the duds?
One of the problems with web design is that anyone can do it – to an extent. But you should exercise the same caution when looking at web design companies as you would if you were hiring a builder.
Steer clear of companies who offer web design as an add on to their main business – common among IT and telecoms companies, as well as public relations and marketing companies. They often lack the skills to give you a decent website.
They may be able to have a go at giving you a site, but it will probably cost you more money and hassle in the long run.
And in the end you will probably have to go to a proper web design company!
The perils of amateurs
These days anyone with a computer can set themselves up as a web designer and this amateurism can make hiring a web designer a nightmare.
They may have flashy websites of their own, but there’s a lot more to building a professional website than the ability to make it look nice.
There are also web companies who want to sell you all sorts of complicated web solutions – but at a price. Often these web agencies are more biased towards the technical side of things.
Sure – you’ll get a website, but you may well pay through the nose for a solution that uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
We’ve seen clients charged large amounts by these companies only to be left on their own once the site has been built.
On the other hand, some may charge very little and only deal with you via e-mail. Always be suspicious of someone who will not speak on the phone or meet in person. And be wary of people claiming to supply ‘cheap’ websites – it will always cost you more in the end.
Long term relationship
Even if you only have a three page simple website you are still entering into a long term business relationship with the company who builds it. So you should treat your website as you would any other long term partnership.
Any company worth its salt should have a portfolio of websites they have produced for other clients. The company should be happy for prospective clients to contact its customers.
You are looking for a broader range of skills, not just an expert in IT, public relations or graphic design.
Those skills include:
- Writing and editing – specifically writing for websites
- Photography and design
- The necessary technical skills
- In depth understanding of web user behaviour and how to present information
- Web marketing skills, including search engine optimisation
- Project management skills and a proven ability to deliver
But above all else they must have good customer service skills. You must be able to build a rapport with your web provider.