For most companies, having a good website is integral to their business plan. For those that don’t yet have one, something that is constantly on their minds. Much like with any other contractor, finding the right company to work with can be a daunting process, especially if you don’t know of one that comes recommended by a friend. Five minutes on Facebook will usually have you bombarded with ads for free websites – but how do you make sure you won’t end up with a site collecting cobwebs? Here are a few hints to finding the right web design firm for you…
It’s a surprisingly frequent excuse that web companies don’t have the time to spend keeping their own site current and functioning properly, and it’s one that should have you moving on rapidly. Websites and the web in general are a fast-paced place where old news gets archived in a drag-and-drop. If a web company has a site that hasn’t changed for years it could well be a sign that they’re content to rest on their laurels instead of keeping up with the constant advances of technology and web design. A portfolio of sites that all look very similar is another indicator of this. If you aren’t blown away by their site, will anyone be blown away by yours?
Fibre-optic technology means work can often be carried out by people in different corners of the globe, and the average salary for developers in Eastern Europe and South East Asia makes outsourcing an attractive prospect for web design companies looking to increase margins. However, as is always the case, you get what you pay for and whilst they may be every bit as good as the local talent, trying to track down your developer when they’re 6,000 miles away enjoying a national holiday can soon lose that international appeal.
In short, if you are part of a company in Bristol, look for a firm that does web design in Bristol. Then ask to meet at their offices. It’s not a cast iron guarantee they’ll always be there for you but at least you know where to find them, and that they aren’t operating from their bedroom.
In the constantly flowing stream of electrons that is web design, it can be hard to establish how long people have been around for. Companies appear overnight and are gone the next day. There are often perfectly good reasons for this, but it’s worth finding out if the company you’re considering working with is going to hang around, or if they’ll have a go, get bored after six months and vanish for a year backpacking through South America instead.
Find out if they have existing business relationships with partners who work with them. Again it’s not a guarantee, but it helps to know other people’s livelihoods have already been depending on them for a good few years. Have a look at their portfolio and contact their existing clients to find out if they’re happy with the service.
It can be hard to find an exact price for websites, apart from the mass produced versions available off the peg from national companies. These can be fine for businesses just requiring the bare minimum of a contact page, but most companies have their own style, methods and requirements that can only be met through a bespoke website. Some companies offer relatively low design costs but add on larger monthly fees for hosting, others price their designs slightly higher but keep the fees lower and offer shorter contracts. Some companies will offer additional services that may be useful, such as product photography or copywriting and SEO content creation. Most will be prepared to offer a discounts for customers requiring additional services, so check to see what else the design company can offer you.