No matter where you’re put up, the market is saturated with web design and development agencies. The options get harder and harder to wade through, let alone weigh. Below are a few pointers to help simplify your process.
To begin with, remind yourself that not all that glitters is gold. Many agencies these days are really polished. They come bearing fancy business cards, fancier websites and put together a heartwarming pitch after doing a little research on your company. Most prove successful in building a rapport with you. None of this is a bad thing, we too put in a good amount of effort in building good relationships all the time. But if there ever comes a time during the pitch that you ask yourself whether they can really deliver to your expectations and you can't push away that feeling by corroborating with the portfolios and data they provide you, go with your gut. Don’t hesitate to ask uncomfortable questions. You're not being condescending. In fact, if anything, you're helping them out. It sets a good precedent to start any relationship with open communication. Best case scenario, they pull up some solid references or case studies, and your worries are clearly put to rest. Else, you find out that they don’t have all the right answers. You’ll thank yourself later.
Many scout for and shortlist web development companies based on their search rankings. And they begin forming an impression the second they land on that web development company’s website. They will look at how the site is designed, how the content is laid out, the services they render and their client list. Most then filter out different web development agencies based on the informative and educational content they display. After, with the list you have left, run through the below pointers:
Start with company history. How many years has this firm been in business? If they’ve been in business for a solid few years now, you know that they have enough experience underneath their belt and you aren’t going to be their guinea pig.
What’s the size of their team? Do the team members give an idea of their personality traits? Do you think your team will mesh well with them? Does the agency have an in-house team? Do they have in-house specialists?
Go through the recent development and design work that the agency has showcased. Jot down what you don’t like and like about their work.
Reach out to their previous clients and ask about their experience with the firm, how long the engagement was and the process the firm followed while working with them. Check out our piece on what questions to ask referrals.
Talk about your budget restraints. Ask them what their hourly rate is. If they agree to make a few concessions, be sure to clear out where you'll lose out because of the concession.
Also since most agencies today are good at putting up an image, they even employ social media to their advantage. To protect yourself against this, digging through their social media pages are a good place to start investigating. Check out their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Interestingly, don’t be too put off with a low count of fans or followers. What you're looking for is quality of their posts. Is the information they provide helpful? Do they have a personality? Do you feel like you can connect? See its very hard to fake a personality consistently. If their voice in social media, blogs and in person feel consistent, then they're worth looking into. It's better to look elsewhere if it's just promotional content and sales posts.
Most of us part with the contents of our wallet very skeptically. We get that. But please don't make finding a cheap option the most important aim of your search. Web development can get real expensive, and it can be incredibly difficult for a business owner to invest in a website they feel won't give them many returns. But remember though, investing in a website is one of the most important things you can do today. People no longer make decisions based on billboards or T.V. commercials. They are all online, searching for great services, companies, and products. When you're visible to your target market online, it shows them that you care enough to mark your presence there. Don’t downplay the importance of your website. You’ll find enough companies willing to negotiate within your budget confines.
And lastly, a web design agency should be more than just a vendor. Look for the traits you would seek out in a business partner who truly cares about the success of your business. In essence, by doing just a few things diligently, you can be certain that your next decision on hiring a custom website development firm is a solid choice.