As a small to medium-sized business, the quality of your web presence is crucial to bringing in new customers. Your website is also a representation of your company and has a lot to do with the public’s perception of you.
However, 51% of small businesses with a website use an employee to create and/or maintain it. Many times, these employees aren’t fully trained to do so.
It may seem cost effective for a business to have an in-house employee take care of their website. Unfortunately, this drastically increases the chance of a poor-quality site. It could also potentially stretch that employee too thin.
It makes much more sense to hire a professional design firm.
If your business needs a new or redesigned site, there are some things you should look for in a design agency.
Let’s go over ten.
This is one of the most important things a design firm should bring to the table. You need to work with a company that has extensive experience and training.
Web trends and technology change quickly. Today, agencies that don’t employ the latest techniques or don’t understand user’s needs will drop like flies.
When shopping around, make sure and check how long an agency has been in business. Someone new to the game may not have the resources and infrastructure to provide solid web services. Instead, go with an agency that has longevity and a consistent success rate.
2. Fair and Competitive Pricing
Obviously, pricing factors into your decision when looking for a design firm. Don’t make a hasty decision without getting a good idea of industry standards with regard to cost.
The agency you work with should offer fair prices and be upfront about the total expense for services. It’s also up to you to be upfront about exactly what you’re looking for.
Watch out for firms that advertise unusually low rates. They may be trying to attract business, but won’t have the ability to provide results.
3. Knowledge of SEO Tactics
Search Engine Optimization is more important than it’s ever been, especially for businesses. A good SEO strategy is how you’ll rank well in Google, so it’s important the design firm you hire has a good handle on it.
SEO isn’t only about keywords and content. Your site needs to load quickly and contain solid alt, title and, meta tags. An agency needs to implement these and other tactics during development.
4. Like-Minded Aesthetics
When you’re shopping around for agencies, make sure and look at their portfolios. You want to work with someone who’s aesthetic approach works for your business.
You may want to ask if an agency focuses on one or two industries or has the resources and experience to develop sites for any market.
For the most part, you want to avoid a firm who has a very dedicated artistic approach that doesn’t line up with your brand.
5. Responsive Design is a Must
Building a business website without responsive design simply isn’t an option anymore. If you do, you’re losing out on a huge number of potential customers.
Mobile devices now account for more internet searches than desktops. A responsive design ensures your site will display and function well on all devices including tablets and smartphones.
A good firm knows the importance of being responsive. If they don’t offer this service, keep moving.
6. They Can Market Your Business
Creating a great looking website is one thing. Making it work for you is another.
Look for a firm that has an in-house marketing team that can take what the designers created and bring it to life. This means promoting it on the right channels and helping it rank well.
7. They’re up on Modern Trends
Web users are very savvy now. Even though they may not be techies, they understand what makes a good website. They’re also very critical.
The design firm you work with should be up to date on the latest design trends and technology. They must also employ these elements effectively.
The appearance of your site has a direct effect on brand reputation. You don’t want potential customers to think you’re either ignoring conventions or don’t have the resources to stay modern.
8. A Unique Vision
In the competitive world of digital marketing, it’s important to be unique. Would you rather work with an agency that spins off the same layout and design theme for every client, or one that brings a unique perspective to your business?
When considering an agency, aside from looking through their portfolio, ask about their principles and overall approach to design. Can they provide their own advice on how to more effectively market your business online?
9. A Healthy Line of Communication
Always remember that you’re the expert in your own industry. You need to work with a design firm that will listen to your expectations and offer solutions that adhere to your bottom line.
You should also get regular updates on the progress of your campaign. The process of providing feedback and having edits made should be clear and comfortable.
Take a look at online reviews for an agency you’re considering. You may be able to get a sense of their process.
10. A Full Range of Services
Take a hard look at the infrastructure of every design firm you’re considering. Do they just do design and development or can they offer a full range of services like SEO, content writing, and hosting?
You’re going to need all of those things, so it makes sense to streamline the process as much as possible. An agency that provides a full web services team allows you to consolidate your web marketing efforts.
This means less time spent in meetings, less stress about the progress of your marketing campaign, and less money spent.
Find the Perfect Design Firm for Your Business
The great thing about finding the perfect agency for your needs is that you can rely on them for years to come. Building a trusting relationship provides peace of mind that your website is getting the attention it needs. Plus, working with an agency that knows your company intimately results in a better product.
At OSO, we provide a full range of web solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. Contact us today to learn more.