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12 Things That Differentiate the Best Web Design Companies

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This blog originally appeared on Whittington Consulting’s Online Results blog.

If you tried to research website design companies using a search engine, your search would return a lot of different companies. It’s hard to pick out the bad designers from the commonplace. And even more concerning, it can be tricky to distinguish “okay” web design companies from truly exemplary ones.

So how do you know the companies you are choosing between are really as good as their website says they are?  Here are twelve signs we’ve determined will let you know that you’re working with a truly professional website design company:

How they get started:
 

  1. They practice what they preach. They use online marketing skills to generate leads for themselves, and they know how to do it for your company, too.
  2. Their portfolio shows results, not just pretty pictures. Case studies contain real numbers that matter to a business. The best can measure revenue and ROI that your website brings in.
  3. Their clients endorse them. The best website design companies bring in new work from word of mouth, but have no trouble getting clients to give rave reviews.
  4. They turn down projects that aren’t a good fit. They know what they are good at, and they don’t fake being an expert at something (or an industry) in which they don’t have experience or passion.
     

What they offer:
 

  1. Customer-focused design. They don’t take risks with your business by designing for fancy graphic design awards. Instead, they develop a deep understanding of your target customer to drive the design and function of your website.
  2. Great writing ability. What? You mean great website design is not just graphic design? The best website design companies have a team of writers to help their clients communicate clearly and convincingly.
  3. Content management systems that empower you. They don’t just give you a great CMS, but they customize it to suit the technical abilities of your staff.  They train you how to use it so that you can edit what you need to edit how you want to edit it.
  4. Design and development, not just customization. They don’t just start with a WordPress theme that requires certain visual elements, but can do their own custom design with Photoshop and hand coding to give you a unique, branded experience.
     

How they work:
 

  1. They practice good project management. We all get distracted every once in a while. The best website design team keeps their team and your team on task, on budget, and on time.
  2. They are web experts, but can speak in layman’s terms. Your design team is technically competent, but they are also able to communicate what they’re doing and why. They are transparent and give you information you can understand.
  3. They don’t need babysitting. You can rest assured that communication between the agency and you will be consistent and that the project will progress according to the timeline.
  4. They don’t leave you hanging. They offer a warranty on their work and superior support services once the project is done. You will feel comfortable calling and asking a question, or just requesting changes.

The best website design companies for you to work with may not jump off the page at first. We talk to companies all the time that have experienced unresponsive, inexperienced, too busy, incompetent web designers.

Before you start your website redesign project, figure out if they’re the real thing. Dig a little deeper and ask as many questions as possible. When you know how they get started, what they can offer you, and how they work, you’ll know if they’re the website design company that can meet your needs.

Your turn: What things make you nervous about outsourcing a website redesign? What are your pet peeves when working with a web designer or marketing vendor?

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