Easy, right? Type in ‘web design agency on Google and pick the first one that comes up? Alas, the agencies Google ranks highest are likely to be well-established, but you’re still getting into bed with a stranger. Website design is arguably one of the most important aspects of online business, and you would probably be better off having done some research into the agency you choose before you choose them. Here is a list of criteria that separate great web designers from the rest.
Incorporate SEO and CRO
Most web designers are familiar with these terms and their importance. But some will have a firmer grip than others. Search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) are 2 fundamental laws of online business that no one in 2021 can afford to neglect. SEO is about adhering to Google’s rules for search engine rankings, while CRO is about streamlining the customer navigation experience on your website to direct focus towards your desired action. And while all web developers are likely to know of these principles, SEO and CRO are so important that there are firms dedicated solely to providing that service. As such, some web designers explicitly exclude SEO from their package and advise clients to work with a separate agency to fulfill this requirement. Outsourcing to multiple agencies may work for you, but equally, you may prefer to select a web designer that incorporates everything in one. This will reduce the number of communication lines, making for a smoother, easier design process.
Collaborative creative process
Web designers know web design. But you know your business. The first requirement is that your design agency pays close attention to your thoughts and ideas to gain an impression of your business and the industry it belongs to. You will have the insight they do not have and should voice your views as the first port of call. Following this, the agency should then respond with their own design ideas, inspired by your initial comments. Any good web designer should be able to actively participate in the creative process — they are the design experts and should be able to challenge your opinions and bring a fresh perspective to the table. A web designer that simply replicates and regurgitates your ideas without bringing their own viewpoint is not worthy of designing your site.
Equally, while open communication lines are crucial, so is clarity. Some developers have been known to communicate in obscure jargon and vague business language. Don’t be beguiled by complex, verbal acrobatics — make sure your developer speaks plainly and in terms, you can easily grasp.
Experience across multiple industries
You might have looked at a specialist web designer that deals exclusively in your industry, be it fashion, wellness, or bathroom tiles. You might think that their experience in your industry makes them perfectly suited to constructing the perfect site for you. But if you choose to go down this route, you’re likely to end up with a site that looks more or less the same as your competition. Mediocrity and unoriginality are business killers and should be avoided like the plague (or any other highly transmissible virus you might find around these days). Ross Pike of Black Robin Exhibits comments, ‘Companies today can’t afford to camouflage themselves against the market and avoid standing out. Another business with more creative marketing smarts will come along and swoop up your customers.’A web designer with an extensive portfolio that has catered to a variety of industries will be used to drawing out the unique qualities of each individual client, rather than mass-producing templates to fit all categories. Check out the portfolio of your prospective designer and look for diversity and variety of clients and design styles.
They understand responsive web design
Responsive web design is essentially website compatibility with all devices. Mobile traffic is soaring, as more and more people view their handheld devices as extensions of their very being. Google has even publicly stated responsive web design is the best way to design a website. It is, thus, of paramount importance that ensures your designer understands this point and has the skills needed to implement it (compatibility across devices can be quite challenging from a technical standpoint).
They offer a free mock
Contracting a web developer is a big commitment. You want to make sure you get it done right the first time, to avoid wasting unnecessary time or money. A good, trustworthy agency should be able to provide you with a free, simple(ish) mock design, to give you an idea of how the finished product will look. This is actually better for both parties — no one wants to end up in a situation where the client doesn’t like the design style and refuses to pay. Ask for a free mock-up from your prospective contractor to ensure they’re right for you.
Selecting your site designer may be one of the most important decisions you ever make. For a while, many people thought websites would become less and less relevant, and that third-party review sites and social media pages would rise to dominate digital commerce. That time has passed, and it is now clear to all that websites are perhaps the most essential component of online trade, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. Having a high-functioning, converting site with striking visual design immediately puts you in a good position to capitalize on internet traffic. Alan Jenkins of web design agency Koreti comments, ‘A website might look static to consumers, but a well-designed site is an active converting instrument. Internet traffic is a maelstrom of activity, and if properly constructed, a website can tap into this wealth and dramatically boost your business.’ Given the importance of the decision, it’s worth taking some time to single out the best design partner for you. It could be your ticket to untold spoils.