I was considering the other day just how hard it would be to choose a web design company if I wasn't in the industry. I’ve been a digital project manager for over 10 years so I know a bit about websites. But what if I didn’t? Where would I start?
A Google search throws up hundreds of products, companies, prices but who do you choose?
Our advice is, first, get recommendations, ask friends, acquaintances, other business owners what experience they have had, who they used, who was good, who wasn’t. Posting the question on Facebook or LinkedIn is a good idea but be ready for the deluge of names, sales calls and emails which may then follow though.
Once you get some names, google them - look at their websites, see if they have any reviews, look at their portfolio of work and contact the ones you like - make sure you contact at least 3.
Compare and contrast the responses you get back. Note the ones which come back to you promptly and courteously. From there, ask the ones you still like to provide a name of a current or recent client you can talk to direct.
A reputable company will definitely want to talk to you, preferably face to face, to find out your needs and requirements as well as to explain their process to you. They will encourage you to talk about your business, your customers and your own personal likes and ideas. From this meeting, you’ll get a good idea as to whether your personalities will fit and how professional, as well as friendly, they are.
When it comes to costs, you will find a vast range from £199 to costs in the thousands for the same website build. If someone can give you a website cost before actually knowing what you want, I would be dubious, especially if you are looking for something unique.
Whilst as a small business, you always need to keep costs down, cheaper is not always better. Cheaper could mean there are hidden costs along the way or it’s a template like thousands of other websites or it’s one person, who may or may not be around/have the time in 6 months if you have a problem. Although this is not always be the case, no matter who you pick, before any work is commenced, agree a fixed price and what you're getting for that price, in advance, in writing.
Most reputable web companies will have a set of terms and conditions for you to review and sign to protect both you and the web company alike.
Another important point to consider before commissioning anyone is payment. If a company asks for payment in advance be very cautious. A lot of companies offer some type of staged payment plan throughout the development period - most will ask for a deposit. Make sure when you read the terms and conditions you specifically check the payment requirements if anything goes wrong, on either side.
And finally, what does your gut say? There’s a lot to be said for instinct and if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and you can find someone else that does feel right.
In summary, although choosing a company to build or refresh your website is potentially a daunting task, if you ask yourself these questions you should avoid any problems:
- Have I got a recommendation for this company?
- Have they got a website, a portfolio of work and do I like it?
- Are there any negative reviews on social media?
- Do they respond quickly? Do they seem friendly?
- How long have they been around?
- How many people make up the company?
- Will they provide a fixed cost? Are there any other potential costs?
- Do they require full payment in advance?
- Does it feel right?