There’s nothing more fundamental to a company’s marketing than its website. It’s your face to the world, the first place prospects will go to understand who you are, the destination to which most of your marketing will drive people.
Unless you’re a large company with enormous internal marketing resources, you’ll need to find a partner to help you develop your website. And, given how critical your website is to the success of your company, it’s important to make sure you find a strong web design partner that’s a good fit.
Know what you need … and what you can afford
Before you start looking for a web design partner, make sure you fully understand your needs. Otherwise, you may end up paying a substantial fee for an ineffective website. Do you want it to serve as a major source for lead generation? Will you need a partner portal? Do you need to attract and impress investors? What about a knowledge base for customers?
Also, consider the features and functions you may want to incorporate. It’s most important to understand what you want your website to accomplish — after all, it’s part of the web design firm’s job to help you determine what components you need to get where you want the website to go — but having some sense of the tools and features you’ll need will help get you ahead of the game. Possibilities include:
Integrating your website with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, marketing automation tools, and/or email marketing software
An easy-to-update blog
Forms for lead generation
You’ll also need to determine what you can afford. If you’re starting from scratch or need a complete rebuild, you’re looking at $20,000 to $30,000 for a fairly basic enterprise technology company website, and big sites with a great deal of functionality can run in the hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. Of course, if all you need is the equivalent of an online brochure, you can pay much less, but in web design, the old adage definitely holds true: you get what you pay for.
Size and focus
Once you’ve got a clear understanding of your needs and budget, you can begin evaluating agencies. First, determine what their experience and market focus looks like. Start with the size of the projects they typically undertake. If you’re a small startup, you won’t get the best bang for your buck if you go with a firm that primarily services Fortune 500 companies. Likewise, if you will be their largest client to date, they may not be able to provide the scale you require.
Look through the agency’s portfolio to see the designs they showcase. These are the projects of which they’re most proud. Do all the sites feel the same or do they capture the individuality of each company? Do they feel stale or do they have a contemporary design? Do they incorporate responsive design, so the site will look great no matter what device people use to visit it?
Industry focus matters, too. Your website will form the backbone of most of your marketing efforts, so it must be relevant to your market. A steel manufacturer’s site will have a very different look, feel, and function than the website that of an online retailer. If your company is in the B2B technology industry, a firm that mostly does hospitality and retail work probably isn’t a good fit.
Culture and references
Keep in mind that you’re not making a factory order. You’re going to work closely for months with a team of people, so take a look at the agency’s culture to make sure you can collaborate well. Check them out on their social channels — does their vibe sync with yours or does it turn you off? Look at how they describe themselves on their own website and pay attention to how they interact with you at the pitch meeting. Do they listen to you? Do you feel comfortable around them? Did they seem genuinely interested in your company? Are they fun to be around?
Make sure to follow up with the references they give you and prepare your questions ahead of time. No agency will give you references that were unhappy with their work, but you can still learn a lot from them. Questions you may want to ask include:
What was your initial budget? Were you able to accomplish everything you wanted within that budget?
Did they deliver your project on time?
What are the agency’s strengths and weaknesses?
What did they require from you to build your site?
Would you engage with them again? Why or why not?
Finally, consider what additional services the agency provides. A website does you no good if no one can find it, so you’ll want to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). To keep your site fresh and continually draw people back to it, you’ll probably want a blog. Can they or their partners provide content creation and strategy? Can they or their partners integrate AI chatbots and other advanced functionality into your site?
Choosing a web design agency isn’t a project that you want to rush, because the quality, design, and functionality of your site will play an enormous role in marketing your company. Be careful and methodical. It will all be well worth it to establish a relationship with a trusted partner who can help you create the site your organization needs.
If you’re looking for a web design partner, we’d be happy to talk with you about your project. Get in touch!