A 2021 Guide on Choosing a Great Web Design Agency
It feels like web design agencies have sprouted like mushrooms after a rainstorm. But how do you find the right one for your business?
Covid-19 is forcing various industries to take a leap towards digitalization. As a result, quality web design is not merely “in fashion” but a must-have in today’s over-competitive eCommerce market. Therefore, it’s only natural that rivalry between web design agencies grows more and more fierce.
But how do you read between witty marketing lines to spot a web design agency’s actual value and experience?
Why Web Design Really Matters
You may need to redesign an existing platform or build a website from scratch. But, no matter your needs, one thing’s for sure: when you rely on a web design agency to shape your online face, a lot is at stake for your business.
Just check out what Standford’s web credibility study has to say. According to their analysis, 75% of users judge a company’s credibility based on website design. It doesn’t matter if you’re aiming for the B2B or the B2C market. The difference lies in excellent user experience and a clean, professional appearance.
Hiring a web design agency should be a carefully weighted decision for that first impactful impression to be positive. Fear not, for we are here to lend a helping hand!
Let’s dive in!
3 Core Criteria for Choosing a Web Design Agency
1. FACTOR ONE: Seek Proven Experience
Truth to be told, it’s pretty hard to tell facts from fables in the online realm. Nevertheless, when you assess a company’s “online authority,” make sure to take into account the following:
- Has the web design agency published an industry-relevant portfolio? Can you find any case studies on the agency’s website showcasing projects they’ve completed for other clients in your industry?
- Does the company’s own website give off a professional and reliable impression? Is it easily navigatable? Does it feature a good information architecture?
- Do they offer convenient and individualized plans? And do they provide other essential online services (such as content marketing, CRM, or internet branding)?
- Lastly, a piece of advice: don’t count too much on online reviews and testimonials, as they may be highly misleading. Focus on thoroughly doing your research instead.
2. FACTOR TWO: See for Yourself
It’s time to drill even deeper into aspects such as UX, development tools, and SEO. In short, try to assess how well they perform essential services.
For a start, you can run audits on websites they’ve developed using tools like Lighthouse. The latter generates a score based on a website’s performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO.
Secondly, visit the agency’s services section and check their technical know-how. What one may call web design (visual interface) builds upon layers and layers of quality development, and current low-code or no-code tools can by no means replace the fitness of human expertise. That being said, make sure they have an in-house, well-performing development team. All the more so if you’re building an eCommerce platform and not just a pretty presentation website. Check what technologies the web design agency specializes in. Common examples include WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento 2.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough for a website to be aesthetically pleasing. More than anything, it has to be fully functional. Anything less than fluid UX (User Experience) will deter a user’s journey, thus contributing to a higher bounce rate (i.e., users leaving your page).
3. STEP THREE: Speak to the Team
Set up a conversation to check if you see eye to eye. Before settling for a web design agency, your preliminary discussions should provide sufficient insight into their attitudes and business cultures. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for:
- Who does the work? Make sure they don’t outsource their projects, and everything is seamlessly created in-house.
- Do they set relevant goals and clear key performance indicators (KPIs)? Also, can they confirm, through metrics from previous projects, that they abide by the quality standards you negotiate?
- Who owns the website? There are agencies out there ready to “rent” a website for an ongoing subscription. Avoid that by choosing a vendor willing to build a website you can host anywhere you’d like – even if the price naturally goes higher.
- Can the agency also perform things like SEO, technical maintenance, or customer support?
- Does the company provide frequent feedback sessions (as with development teams that use a Scrum Agile methodology)?
- Finally, will you get any reporting on their short-term and long-term results?
On top of these general guidelines, make sure to add more to the list based on your specific business goals, such as the central functionalities you envision on your ideal website.
Final Thoughts: A Perfect Web Design Agency?
Industry expertise, a proven portfolio, technologies used, and clear KPIs – they’re all crucial, and checking up on them will help a great deal. But keep in mind there might not always be a “perfect vendor” out there – at least not “detectable” at first glance on that first page of your Google search.
So make sure you do your research well by exploring locally and nationwide for potential vendors. Then, compile a list and measure each web design agency against the criteria we’ve discussed. You can even start off with our Mejix portfolio!
Lastly, start a conversation with the best candidates, making your final choice based on a wide variety of insights you have hopefully managed to gather.