Choosing a web design company can be a confusing task. With so many options around, it can be difficult to choose one. Here are some criteria that may be helpful when choosing who to work with:
Generally in life you get what you pay for. The cheapest price rarely gives you the best results as corners most likely have been cut in various places which often compromises quality. The old saying "if it's too good to be true, it isn't" is very true in web design world. If the price is extremely low and you wonder how anyone is able to make any profit with such a low budget, the project is most likely outsourced to another country with lower labour costs. Getting changes and updates done to your website can be very slow when there's a middle man.
Same goes with extremely high price tags. Most of us can not get a Rolls Royce even though it's without a doubt a very luxurious car. The best bang for web design buck is usually somewhere in between the lowest price and the highest price - somewhere where the web design budget is healthy enough to produce a quality product without too much of the budget assigned to unnecessary fluff.
So, you've found a great web design company and you're ready to move forward. Important thing to ask yourself is, how long has the web design company been in business and will they be around to support your project for years to come.
No business address listed on the website is the first warning sign. This could be just a person pretending to be a web design company by creating a website that creates an impression of an actual physical company. Second alarm bell is a shared office address. These days anyone can have an impressive mailing address by paying literally few dollars per month for a virtual mailing address, such as 1 Yonge Street.
There's nothing wrong with a good freelancer web designer if you're able to find a reliable one. The problems start when the freelancer is unable or unwilling to work for you or support you for various reasons. Maybe he/she got another job. Maybe he/she just landed a large contract which will occupy his/her time for the next several months or even a year. Or maybe he/she is just making some extra income by doing freelance web design on the side and your project is not a priority anymore.
When you deal with a brick and mortar type of company you know that they're in it for the long term. Often there's a long rental lease in place and there's also staff that has often worked for the company for a long time.
We once witnessed an organizational structure of a large web development company and found out that approximately half of the staff was assigned to sales and proposal writing. These people need to be paid and it can be frustrating to find out that half of your web design budget goes towards supporting sales and proposal writing - and not actual work.
4. Business Intelligence
It's your call if you want web design company just to be a technical operator in your web design project - or if you would like advice from them outside web design. An experienced company can offer valuable business advice in addition to web design services. After all they've been around for a long time and know what likely works and what doesn't. They can also make recommendations for hosting, e-commerce payment gateways and also how to run the business and even how to structure the revenue model. After all, they're experience in running a web design company.
Once your web design company has finished the project, your website needs to be hosted somewhere for the world to see the finished product. In a perfect world, everything works perfectly but that's rarely the case. Sometimes something may not function on your website properly after working just fine earlier. Who do you contact? Is this a web designer issue or hosting issue? If you hired a web designer that is no longer being paid by you, they may not be motivated to respond to you or they may blame web hosting company even when the issue is not with them.
It makes sense to deal with a company that not only offers web design services, but also hosting and e-mail services. Whatever you need support for, you have one point of contact that is often able to fix any issues in no time.
6. Gut Feeling
Last but not least is your gut feeling. If you've had a chance to meet your potential web designers, how do you feel about them on a personal level? Imagine working with them and if you think you would enjoy it. Feeling uncomfortable at the meeting and being pressured to sign a contract are usually warning signs that should be taken seriously.
On the other hand if the people you've met seem knowledgeable, are able to answer all your question and seem like good people to work with - you probably should work with them.