Check Their Website Design Portfolio.
The best web design companies have them and are proud to display them on their website. When you are looking at their online portfolio of work, you need to be highly critical – be sure that you absolutely love their work, before you engage them to do your website.
What to look for:
– Can you see any websites similar to your business? Remember, you need a site to look totally different to what is out there to establish your own unique online presence. Ideally, your site should be more creative and user friendly than your competitors.
– The portfolio should represent a varied mix of industries and businesses. Having one web company focus on one particular field is not a good start. They should be able to show you that they have worked across a number of industries, designing a variety of web sites that all have their own unique look & personality. Its all about individuality and if you can see this consistency then you are certainly on the right path to finding the best web comany for your business
– Do the sites look template driven or do they appear as though some design effort has been put into it? Great web companies will NEVER follow a template, but design as per brief.
– As you look at more and more sites you should see a common thread. If your overall feeling to these designs is unimpressive then you are possibly viewing a web company that operates at the lower end of the market. These kind of companies are found all over the first page of Google and they offer cheap web design package solutions for next to nothing. If you are comfortable with your design work being shipped off to India then this is probably an OK solution for you. But, if you are wanting quality design backed up by years of web experience then avoid these guys at all costs. It will only end up in tears. Guaranteed!
Meet With Your Web Designer
The better web companies in Sydney, will prefer to meet rather than correspond via email. If your head office is in Sydney then go with a studio in that city. It will be a lot easier for your when you try to communicate the design brief.
Testimonials and Client Feedback
Testimonials are an awesome tool to see if the web design company is any good. Don’t go in blindly believing everything that you are told, read or hear. Of course all web companies are only going to give you the best results and testimonials and will never relate a bad past experience. This is only logical and people are going to protect their interests.
Questions to ask:
– Are you satisfied with the web outcome? This is a fairly self explanatory question and the answer should always be a quick yes. If there is any hesitation or some kind of um or eh…then you have a problem.
– Was the project completed on time? Most web companies will promise site completion at a certain time and date and should be able to adhere to this schedule. Obviously there are times when sites can scope out and take longer than expected. Any decent web team should be on top of this and alert you to deadline blow outs. If they do, then great but if they dont, you will know about this.
– Was the web design company able to challenge you in any way and offer alternative design solutions based on their experience? Clearly, you will have some pre conceived design ideas and thoughts but it is really up to your team to offer creative and constructive ideas prior to beginning the site. Having a site made is not as simple as one would be led to believe, there are so many variables that need careful consideration and it is really up to your designers to come up with new inspirations and articulate carefully what is now needed for a successful web design.
– Did you get value for money? This is a massive question and this can really influence your commitment to a company. So many studios advertising online will promise you anything to get your business. I personally ( as one of the directors of hopping mad designs ) have witnessed business owners in tears wishing they would have not gone with the cheap alternative to begin with.
Often fooled by slick talking sales people who say they are 'design experts', receive a website that looks nothing like they wanted with absolutely nothing to show for in terms of design. Any design changes or extras are charged for at an hourly rate and there is really no value for money. Be really careful about this question and before embarking on this exercise, you have to learn the difference between cheap n nasty web designers and those web studios offering real value for money. One useful hint: any web business advertising web packages less than $1000 should be avoided.
– After sales service or website warranty. Did they drop you like a hot potato or did they help iron out any bugs once the site went live. Also, were they helpful with content management issues you may have needed to upload content and images. Many web companies with draw a line in the sand once the site goes live and charge you on an hourly basis for post deployment help. This should really not be the case and there should be a warranty with any work and help with anything you need for at least 30 days. You need to find your feet and learn how to use a CMS effectively and its only fair that this is stipulated in their contract with you.
– Any there any other issues you had with the company such as customer service, returning of phone calls and emails, over charging, lack of transparency, attitude, lack of experience, dealing with juniors or school/tech leavers etc etc. As a paying customer you want the best product at the best price so if you notice any of the above points then there would be an issue.
Rapport Between Designers and the Client
Having a website designed is a crucial part of your marketing mix and will more often than not be your only source of advertising. This is why it is crucial that you have a great rapport with your designers. After your initial meeting you should be able to get a clearer idea of the people you will be working with and will therefore be able to see if you are not only comfortable with them, but that you also have the trust and faith that they will be able to deliver on this project, well above your expectations. Basically, you want to leave the meeting with that feeling you get that those people were awesome, they really understood you, your business and your web objectives.
Having a web site designed for most people can be a scary thing. Ideally, you need to get the feeling that you are dealing with a professional, down to earth mob who will take care of your website and other online marketing needs.
For this reason a good tip is see the response time on your first couple of phone calls to them. If they are not returning your calls within a day or if they are forever in meetings then treat this as an ominous sign of things to come.
Are they SEO Experts ?
When you are ready to meet with your top web design company be armed with some useful questions and see if they are willing to divulge technical information such as: search engine optimisation, browser testing ( ensuring that the website will work across all major platforms), download times, social media strategies, copywriting help, interactive content, user interface styles, their coding capabilities, content management systems.
Most decent web companies should be able to chat with you about each of these points in detail. These are the ‘ must haves’ for the web design industry and knowledge in these particular areas is an absolute must. For example if they are looking nervous when discussing SEO, this means that they obviously are unclear about the topic or how they are going to rank your web site. If they are trying to steer you away from topics that revolve around web copywriting then again, this is an danger sign. Any sign of doubt should result in you looking for another more cutting edge and professional web design firm.
Payment Terms and Intellectual Property:
See if you are able to pay in installments upon milestones being achieved. A great idea and one that should be put on the table and spoken about upfront is a 50% deposit with a further 25% upon design completion and the balance on uploading the site. This way you are in total control over the life cycle of the web project when it comes to funding. Never pay 100% upfront and be clear about paying these installments only when you are satisfied with the final result. Also be sure to see that you will be the rightful owner of all completed artwork once the site goes live. You should own all images, content as well as source html files as a matter of common courtesy. You have paid for the site and should therefore expect to own everything associated with it. Be strong willed when asking for these 2 things as many web studios will be reluctant to hand over files and will want most of the payment up front to protect themselves. This is about you, not them so do everything possible to protect your rights and ownership.