Creating a website that is both functional and aesthetic is not an easy task. In this article, we will guide you through the process of preparing a site outline step by step.
No company today can function without its own website. The site presents the firm’s offer to the customers. A decent website is crucial if you want your business to leave a good first impression.
It should be visually attractive, informative and easy to use, so it must contain all relevant materials about the company and its products or services.
You can create a website yourself or outsource it to a web design agency. Which path is better and how to choose a web design agency?
Independent web development vs cooperation with a web design agency
When making such a decision, you need to consider what your company goals are. If you are a busy business owner, you just might not have the time to do web development yourself or you do not have enough web development skills or knowledge.
If you care about business success and productivity, hiring a good web designer is usually the way to go.
Web designers who have the experience and knowledge will help you create the perfect website that will bring you the benefits you expect.
However, if you have time, you can try to design the website yourself. Although if you really pay attention to professionalism, reliability, and credibility, this solution is not recommended.
Let’s consider all the pros and cons of both ways now.
Designing your own website by yourself – advantages and disadvantages
The greatest benefit of creating a website yourself, be it a new website or refreshment of an old one, is the lower price. What is more, it does not have to be difficult because there are various website builders that allow you to create a website not only inexpensively, but also with ease. And that is all when it comes to the advantages. A short list of prons, while the possible complications add up to a very long one.
DIY website builders often have limited design or technological capabilities, which is their biggest disadvantage. This comes with the risk that the site will be similar to tons of others made using the same creator. One should also not forget that time is money. Outsourcing the website to professionals simply saves you time, which can be spent on developing your business and/or communicating with clients or searching for new markets.
In addition, if you do not know much about the best practices for designing a website that is user friendly and mobile friendly, or implementing on site SEO, and web development seems like a daunting task to you, you have zero chance to create a proper website for your business. Remember that web design is very important and you should not save money on it!
Advantages and disadvantages of working with a web design agency
Hiring a web design company guarantees you a well-done website because such web design companies employ the best web designers. These are specialists who know the critical elements of a company’s online presence. As a result, you can avoid wasting time and money building a website from scratch that will not work properly.
On the other hand we have increased costs. Employing specialists from an agency will be more expensive than a DIY website design. However, it is worth spending more on experts who will ensure the website’s success, thanks to which, after some time, the costs of building and maintaining the website will pay off.
The website is a presentation of your company and an image building block on the Internet. It helps you influence how your business is perceived by your current or potential customers.
Another important argument is connected to the global reach of the website. In 2020, almost sixty percent of the world’s population will be using the Internet. Do not let yourself fall behind the competition, ideally, you should be a few steps ahead of them.
A website made by professionals simply saves you money and time, while many website functions, such as signing up for training, courses, making an appointment or shopping, push your business forward. Customers might look for another service provider if you do not have a website.
What is more, a website created by specialists increases the business credibility. In addition, it gives you a chance to quickly collect a lot of information about users’ behavior and needs. Such valuable input can help you build more effective advertising messages.
Each time someone visits your website, you have about 10 seconds to make a positive impression on them. Why would you want to take a risk? An unprofessional website will have a bad impact on your company image, so it is not worth investing in it.
What exactly does a web design agency do?
Web design agencies are responsible for the website’s design. They help their clients at every stage of the project, starting with the concept, choosing a web design, and then developing it. As they are involved in the whole process, they are like a web design partner.
However, web design companies prepare more than just the design. They often employ a design team and offer more services, such as website audit, website refresh, digital marketing, website maintenance, and content management systems.
How to choose a web design company – important factors for selecting the right web design agency
The choice of the right web design agency should depend on several crucial factors. A good web design agency should have a few important features related to the approach to the client and the quality of the work performed. When choosing a web design company, you need to pay attention to the first impression and a few aspects that will indicate if it is a good company, such as:
Listening to your ideas and presenting its own
A good web design company realizes that you are an owner of your business who knows it best and is an expert in your industry. As a result, it pays attention to your ideas. If it is not open to your suggestions and offers only choosing a web design they created, reconsider whether it makes sense to continue this cooperation.
However, a good agency must also make its own proposals, not only listen to yours. It needs to evaluate your ideas with professional insight. The agency must be focused on designing the perfect website that gets conversions, not only building it based on your ideas, as they may not always be efficient. Good specialists explain what can be improved in your vision or why they think their proposal is better.
Having marketing and SEO specialists on their team
The website is one of the most important marketing tools. Social media marketing is not enough. In addition, you need to have a website to convince customers to buy products or services from your company, allow placing online orders or even making payments. It must also be suited to the needs of your target audience.
To be effective, any good web design company should employ online marketing and SEO specialists. A website is supposed to help your business grow and succeed. For this reason, although graphic design is important, it cannot just be a pretty website – it has to work properly above all else.
Employing CMS and responsive web design
Aversion to the content management system, i.e., CMS, should be treated as a red flag and make you avoid cooperation, as it is a significant disadvantage of an agency. Every good web design company knows the best CMS like WordPress, Magento, or Drupal.
Separate mobile sites are often heavily outdated, although they sometimes have their advantages. Yet, the best agencies use responsive design as a standard. Currently, every website must be optimized for all devices, including smartphones and tablets. Even Google ranks responsive websites higher. So, if the agency does not use such a design, you must turn them down.
Having case studies, achievements, and a portfolio
Everyone who creates something for others should have their portfolio and present their successes. Before starting cooperation, clients like to see what the company has already done and what it has achieved. Case studies, and a tab with achievements on the agency’s website or its portfolio are the best ways to show expertise. If the agency does not share such information, it cannot be trusted. It should have a proven track record of its history on the market.
Having extensive experience
A good agency should work for different industries. Finding a design firm that is focused on just one enterprise type may also be a valuable choice, but it comes with a high risk that your website will look similar to other businesses.
In addition, an agency should operate both on the local and global market. Web design strategies for global and local businesses differ, so a good agency should know various design strategies. This ensures that the new website will help you achieve your business goals, whether you have a national brand or a local one.
Keeping up with the changing design trends
Nobody wants their website to have the appearance of an outdated website that was created ten years ago. A good agency needs to keep up with modern design trends. Responsive design, scrolling banners or even a video on the main page should be nothing new for a professional company. A good company should know how to keep a balance between new and proven methods.
Setting goals, willing to measure progress and keep improving
A good agency has its goals set, continuously measures its progress and improves its work. It realizes that a static website destroys business and benefits only the competition. The best web design agencies are staffed by professionals you can trust, so there is no need to control them constantly and tell them what to do.
10 steps to choosing the right web design agency
Do you want to find the best web design company to cooperate with?
Here are 10 steps to help you through the vetting process of companies, telling you what you need to look for in your search for the right agency.
Step 1 – Establish goals and needs of your own website
Before you start looking for an agency, you need to determine what you want to achieve with the website and what you will need to succeed.
You need to remember that the site is both a marketing and business tool. The purpose of the website may be, for example:
- attracting potential customers;
- integration with marketing tools or CRM (which is the abbreviation for the Customer Relationship Management, i.e., taking care of relationships with current and potential customers);
- connecting to the newsletter platform;
- enabling payments;
- enabling customers to fill out contact forms or fulfill orders.
To achieve this, the website must be user-friendly, easy to navigate and use, as well as optimized for SEO and conversion. In addition, in order to enable ordering and payment, the website must have ecommerce functionalities.
Your website must be safe. You should take care of the security of the forms, as well as the SSL certificate and the https protocol to ensure that the website is encrypted. In order to build websites that are secure all of these factors must be taken into account.
Step 2 – Check if the agency works in your industry
We mentioned above that a web design agency should work for multiple industries, and it is not worth engaging with those that only work with one type of enterprise, even if it covers your industry. However, when choosing a multi-industry agency, you need to be sure that it also works with companies similar to yours. It is crucial for the successful cooperation that it knows your market, trends, customer habits and competition.
Step 3 – Verify the company’s experience
You should find out how long a particular business has existed, as many companies do not keep up with trends and quickly disappear from the market. There are also many new ones, so it is not easy to find an agency with a lot of experience. You can trust an agency that has been on the market for at least a few years, but you should still check their activities, focusing on the type and number of projects as well as their customers.
If you want to run a national or global level business, you cannot hire a web design firm that only works locally and offers just local SEO.
Step 4 – Look at the agency’s portfolio and case studies
Every professional web design agency has a portfolio as well as references. Most designers who are professionals talk about their work and achievements. Most often, they share such information on their sites by sharing designs or links to other websites that implemented their mockups.
Visit a few of these clients’ sites and compare them to each other. Do they look the same? If so, yours will be similar, and it is not a good practice. If you want to get the best source of information about projects and the agency’s work, you should read the so-called case studies. Those are extensive descriptions of the services performed along with the specific client problems and the agency’s approach to them, as well as facts and figures. This is the most valuable indication of what you can expect from a given company.
Step 5 – Check if the agency designs responsive websites
We have already mentioned that this is the most important modern trend and every web design agency must design websites in this way. These days, most people access the internet on mobile devices, so it is crucial to make sure that you adapt your site to them. If the agency proposes a separate mobile website, resign from collaboration immediately.
Step 6 – Check whether the agency uses CMS and encourages doing so
Every website needs a CMS, so every experienced web designer should be a CMS expert. If the prospective web design agency you are considering does not use nor encourage using CMS, it is better not to work with them.
Step 7 – Check if the agency has a balanced approach
A good web design company knows that a website should be created according to the latest design and technology trends, as customers expect fresh and unique projects.
A web designer who is an expert in the industry should know that a site needs to be adjusted to mobile devices and search engines, and be familiar with scrolling banners and other modern trends. An expert is also able to draw the line between new and proven ideas.
Minimalism, user-centric design, page speed optimization, micro-interactions, highly personalized content, and Mega Footers reigned in 2022.
Step 8 – Contact the agency
As the next step, you should try to contact a web design company. It is worth checking how quickly you can count on a response to inquiries, whether it is easy to reach them, and what the customer service looks like. It is also a good idea to prepare a list of questions to ask the agency and see how the web developer answers them. The inquiries should be related to the information mentioned above, unless you have been able to find it yourself.
Getting in touch with the company can also help you determine the details related to your needs and goals. It is best to explain everything at the first encounter. Above all, you should demand a CMS and a perfect user experience.
In addition, it is also worth asking what tools they use and what additional services they offer apart from the website design. A good agency should also offer a free consultation.
Step 9 – Check the opinions of past clients about the agency
Online reviews are the best indicator of what you can expect when working with a web design company. It is worth checking the company’s presence in the Google reviews and directory. Pick an agency that has good opinions from previous clients and look for more valuable comments than just “awesome” or “awful”, as it is not enough to make a decision. Reviews that include an explanation are necessary to create a better view on the company.
Step 10 – Set your budget
Working with a web design company is usually expensive. However, you should avoid firms that offer very low prices because most certainly they provide services of poor quality. This can consume a large chunk of your annual budget, so it is important to know if your money will be well spent and you will get a return on your investment.
Surely, a decision on the scope of work, i.e., choosing a web design, will be helpful in determining the achievable price point. The basic questions that need to be answered when setting the budget are whether the agency will allow any changes and if so, how many. It is also good to know if the agency offers installments or only a one-time payment. What is more, you should find out whether there are any extra costs related to, for example, additional services outside the basic scope.
Top web design agencies – check the ratings
There are many web design companies on the market, and the number is constantly changing. Choosing the right one can also be facilitated by ratings, found on almost every website related to web development or digital marketing. It is worth checking rankings, such as Clutch.
Web design with Nopio
Nopio is one of such web design companies. We are an agency offering a wide range of services related to website design and development, digital marketing, search engine optimization, and other services for enterprises. Every business owner should know how important a business page is.
We offer web design for marketing services, which we recommend taking a look at. In addition, we share a number of website design tips in articles on our blog. You should check out our articles about website redesign project plan and keeping the current site up-to-date, our guide for planning a website project and issues related to having an outdated website.
We hope that our knowledge base will allow you to understand all aspects of the web design process, while this article will convince you that it is worth working with the best agency, as it will help you choose a web design tailored to your needs and ideas.