First, you need to make sure the provider you choose has a legitimate business. Be sure they have been properly organized as a recognized business entity (LLC, Inc., etc.). This will help you filter out the disreputable companies that prey on customers with attractive offers that sound tempting but usually lack the quality and support you desire.
Also, I would recommend going even further to find web design companies that are accredited members of trusted sources such as the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. If the project goes sour, you have a legitimate party with whom you can legally dispute the matter. That said, don’t let cheap prices be the only factor in your selection process. If something sounds too good to be true, then most likely it is. Use your common sense, and it will serve you well.
Second, ask the provider whether they will have an official service contract for your project. If they don’t, politely thank them and move on to find a different provider. Don’t let a “special offer” lure you into a bad deal. That’s a trap you want to avoid. Professional providers understand they have an obligation to deliver on each project and should have a written contract to keep both parties informed. The contract will protect you if the provider does not deliver on their promises.
Third, find a provider that specializes in Content Management Systems (CMS) website design and is open to the idea of YOU controlling your website’s content after the website is completed. CMS websites build on open-source platforms (WordPress, Drupal, Magento, etc.) and will enable you to make changes to most of your website content without coding knowledge. This will help you to save money in the long run as you don’t have to pay your provider every time you want to make simple changes to your website. Even better, find a provider that will truly empower their clients. These companies will take the time to coach you, ahead of time, on how to make changes to your website’s content before letting you run with it. This type of provider often views their clients as partners in growth instead of a “melon” in the money-squeezing process.
Fourth, find a provider that can custom design and program your website at all levels. You want a provider that can tailor the website specifically to your type of organization and needs. The last thing you want is having to find another provider to complete your project because your current provider can’t get your website features to work correctly. If you don’t know how to design and code, it can be difficult to filter out such providers; but by requesting to view a few of their recently completed and complex websites, you will be able to filter out a number of unqualified providers.
Fifth, find a provider that has a proven track record. The track record I’m referring to can be found in their work portfolio and in their clients’ testimonials. A truly exceptional company can be evaluated from the voices of its customers rather than solely through the company’s advertising and sales rep comments. Ask permission from the provider to call some of their recent or existing clients for references. This will provide you another helpful source by providing the opportunity to ask the questions that are important to you.
Sixth, find a provider who truly cares about your core needs. This may sound difficult to discern, but here is how you can go about it. On your first meeting (in person or on the phone), describe in detail what you are looking for, and then for the next 15 minutes, listen to their response and recommendations. The provider who truly cares about your needs will often take a similar approach:
a) They will repeat back to you the concerns and needs you have expressed to make sure they understand them correctly.
b) They will take the time to dig deeper to learn more about your organization, including your short- and long-term goals, to identify your needs and expectations to see whether they are a good fit.
c) They will then suggest options and solutions for you to consider.
These providers often are results- and relationship-driven companies, and they are the type of web support team you want by your side.
But, if you hear any of these statements right after you finish your initial project description, the provider’s real priorities are obvious:
- How much are you willing to spend?
- What is your budget?
- I think you should do this…
- We have number of packages that you can choose from.
- We are the cheapest web designer you will find anywhere.
Seventh, look for a web design provider that also offers organic search engine optimization (SEO), especially those with a website ranking in the top 10 of Google’s organic search for important keywords related to their region or state. Since they can rank their own company website prominently in the top 10 of a Google search, their team most likely has a strong knowledge of SEO to also prepare your website to be search-engine friendly. To make sure this happens, before selecting your provider ask them whether they will include the basic on-site SEO service in your web design project. This is important because it enables search engines to index your website under the right category. That’s where you want your organization’s website to be found.
Today, with a few clicks on the internet, you can find many web design providers offering all kinds of prices. However, price is not the key factor in the success of your website design. The determining factor would be a provider that is honest, knowledgeable, and cares about your needs enough to deliver a custom-designed website that meets your expectations.
The important factors listed above will help you avoid the mistake of choosing the wrong provider, which will translate into wasted time and budget dollars. Instead, follow these tips and you will likely find an exceptional web design provider and profit by the results. I hope you find this information helpful. If you do, please share it with others. Thanks!