10 things to look for in a good web design agency

In this post we'll discuss our top ten factors to consider when choosing a web design agency.

Let's face it, most people aren't web design or development experts and although we all use the web for shopping, social media, looking at pictures of cats on skateboards, when it comes to designing and building a website, well, that's when we call in the experts. But searching for a professional web design agency returns thousands of results, how do we sort the good agencies from the bad? In this post we'll attempt to help by outlining our top ten factors for finding the perfect website design company for you so that you can make an informed decision before beginning your next web design project.

1. Location

Whilst not essential, working with a web design agency that’s local to you can be recommended. Some agencies are not as good as others at communicating so being able to meet face-to-face can sometimes be a necessity and can rescue a project that might be going off the rails or has stalled. That said, when working with a more competent agency that are comfortable and experienced working remotely there is no compromise in service.

2. Benchmarks

There are a range of benchmarking tools you can use to benchmark a few of the agency’s existing website projects. This allows you to get a look beneath the surface of their projects to ascertain whether they deliver not only an aesthetically pleasing website but one that’s technically well executed too.

3. Google Partner Agency

Finding an agency that’s a Google Partner is an advantage as this certification shows that the agency is forward-thinking and has passed Google’s certification exams. This demonstrates a level of knowledge other agencies may lack and ensures the agency is well-equipped to market your website after the launch.

4. Well Established

Whilst every business is new at some point there’s certainly comfort to be taken from using a well-established web design agency. A well-established agency will have a reliable, experienced and settled team of staff that can pull together to deliver the best results for your web design project. Furthermore, a well-established agency will have a tried-and-tested approach to every project they undertake as well as all the necessary infrastructure, processes and support in place to guarantee the best outcome.

5. Experienced

Every web design agency, new or old, should have a portfolio of previous work or example projects. Whilst it’s not essential that they have an example project that’s exactly what you’re looking for, or from the sector or industry you operate in, it is important that they have a good variety of projects that show they can adapt their approach to deliver projects for varying briefs.

6. Web Standards

Grab a few of the design agency’s example project URLs and run them through the W3C validator. Whilst the odd error is fine (as there may be good reason) if you notice a pattern of five or more errors on each project, this indicates a lack of attention to detail and poor coding. Please note: there is a difference between an error and a warning.

7. Price

Like anything, with web design you get what you pay for, so don’t be seduced by a low price as generally web design is charged by the hour, so a cheaper price usually means the agency will spend less time on your project and the result will suffer as they simply won’t have the time to fully understand and listen to your requirements.

8. Expertise

When reviewing an agency's portfolio of projects, do they include more custom and bespoke features? So that's things such as dealer locators, client log-in areas, postcode coverage area checkers, members areas, etc. and ideally web applications too. Whilst these skills might not be needed for your project initially, these examples demonstrate an agency that has technical as well as design expertise so they’re capable of taking your website in any direction you may need them to in the future.

9. Testimonials

The best agencies gather testimonials from their clients, so spending some time reading their web design testimonials is always worthwhile. Looking up their Google Reviews is another good idea too as less-honest agencies will find Google Reviews harder to fake.

10. Passion

Finding an agency that has a real passion for websites and web design will serve you well not just in your initial website build project but thereafter. A really passionate agency will be constantly innovating and hopefully applying those innovations to your website in the future. A good way to identify a web design agency that’s passionate about what they do is by reviewing their blog. Are they blogging about web design and related topics regularly? Do they have a GitHub account where they are sharing open source projects with the community and contributing to other open source projects?

So there you have it, our top ten points to consider when deciding on your next web design agency. If you think we've missed something or you have any questions related to the items discussed then please feel free to post a comment below.

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Michael Walsh by Michael Walsh