Almost every web design company says it’s the “best.” But how do you know if a company is the perfect fit for your small business?
Your website is the primary online marketing tool of your business. Once you launch it, it stays there for public viewing.
If the website looks impressive and loads fast, you win prospects and leads. Otherwise, you lose them.
And in case you’re not satisfied with the web design company and its services, you might need to transfer your site to another host. That’s a big hassle and will include bad results—including loss of web traffic, leads and sales.
In short, a bad web design company is risky for your business.
So in this in-depth article, I’ll tell you the right way to identify the best web company for your business needs and goals. Including how to improve your website for long-term business growth.
I’ll start with the basics. And if you want more specific guidelines on the must-have features of your website, the results to look for in a web company, and more—you’ll find it throughout this guide.
To avoid the temptation to do it yourself, keep in mind the benefits of outsourcing your website.
When choosing between a freelance developer and a web design company—see what fits your business. A freelance developer costs less, but a web design company can provide better and quicker results.
Learn what makes a high-performing website that will attract more prospects and satisfy your customers.
Make sure the web design company can create for you a website that’s secured, mobile-optimized, user-friendly, quick to load, and searchable in Google.
It’s not enough that your business website exists online. It should be an extension of your marketing efforts.
Choose a web design company that will help you get more leads and sales through effective website design strategies.
Specify the major features you want for the website. Will you sell products and services? Will it have a blog?
Agree on how the website will be completed. What files and info will be needed from you? How long will they finish the website? Can you ask for revisions?
Let the company team express their creativity in building your website. But stay on top and make sure it fits your desired results.
Because search engines and competitors are changing, your website should keep improving too.
Look for a web design company who can provide future revisions and improvements at cost-efficient prices.
Those are the basics. Now for more detailed guidelines, let’s dig deeper below.
Let’s first consider why you should work with a web agency to build a website for your business.
According to Michael Hyatt, 45% of American entrepreneurs are stressed due to overwork.
So outsourcing your website is often necessary and unavoidable to keep yourself and your business healthy.
As Inc.com also explained, growth happens only when you’re free to focus on whatever drives the biggest ROI.
While a web design company builds your website, you have more time to develop products, increase scalability and improve your own team.
A web design company is a “comprehensive” team of digital marketers, designers, and content writers. Here at Marketing by Rob, for instance, we have more than 60 members working on different aspects of a website.
This gives you a better workforce than an in-house team or freelance developer. As a result, you can expect a quicker and high quality work.
In case your in-house developer or a freelancer leaves, the replacement person may have a different approach to your website.
In contrast, a professional web design company develops its own blueprints for all website projects. According to The Balance Small Business, this reduces the risk of substandard quality from companies.
A web agency is more likely to operate for many years than a freelancer. This is crucial for ongoing maintenance of your website.
If you need improvements in the future, you have an “outsource” team who already has an existing idea on your website.
Now, some companies offer interesting features that others don’t.
But whatever they offer, here are eight (8) non-negotiable features that must be included in your website and the web design services.
A good website makes it easy for visitors to see what they’re looking for. We call this “user experience” (UX).
According to statistics, 70% of visitors abandon their shopping cart due to poor user experience.
Another study by Forbes shows that 39% of users will stop engaging if your website takes too long to load.
Hubspot also claims that 93% of people leave websites because it doesn’t properly appear on their devices—whether desktop or mobile.
So make sure the web design company can build you a website that:
According to SmartInsights, your website reflects your business. It gives visitors the first impression whether your offer is interesting and professional, or not.
Some reports claim that 48% of users consider web design as the no. 1 factor in identifying the credibility of a business.
In short, if the website colors, fonts, and graphics look like a high school report—it won’t catch people’s attention.
The design doesn’t always have to be animated and cinematic. But at least find a web design company that can create professional designs.
PRO TIP: Look at the company’s website. If it looks unattractive, they probably can’t create a professional-looking website for you.
While good design attracts visitors, you must drive them to make a certain action. It could be to subscribe to your email newsletter, download a free guide, or make the purchase.
Converting visitors into leads and sales require a sales or marketing funnel on your website.
In traditional marketing, this follows the AIDA method:
Once a visitor lands on your website (attracts), the website must catch the visitor’s interest on what you offer.
Information on your website must be convincing enough to turn the visitor’s interest into a desire to take your offer—and finally take the action.
How do you do this?
Strategic layout and content.
Your headlines, pictures and buttons should be located and designed strategically throughout your website. Each element must be visible and clear for users to engage and take action.
According to Econsultancy, only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their website conversion rates. Every business needs an effective funnel.
So find a web design company that knows how to create web pages, layouts and content that convert leads. Yes—content.
As Donald Miller explained, a website that works isn’t just about the colors. It’s about what you say and how you say it. It’s WORDS that sell and win customers.
Imagine if 20 people are interested in your business now, but when they visit your website—it’s broken and unavailable.
According to Uptrends:
And when that happens, real-time visitors will immediately close the browser tab. You don’t know whether they’ll come back again.
As Kissmetrics surveyed:
Another study also claims that 9 out of 10 visitors will switch to a competitor’s website if yours fails to load.
It’s like locking up the door to your store in front of your customers.
Although downtime is inevitable, most websites report an average of 99.0% uptime through excellent hosting servers, updated website codes and scripts, etc.
A professional web company should know that.
So find a web agency that uses a reliable web hosting service. Make sure they will back up your files, and keep your website active.
Another crucial feature is security, especially if you’ll ask customers to pay on your website and give personal information.
According to WebARX Security, there’s an attack to websites every 39 seconds, and hackers are capable of stealing 75 records every second.
One recent case on website security happened in 2018 when the British Airways’s website was hacked, and about 380,000 passengers were affected.
Because of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies who fall victim to data breaches are subject to fines.
According to Forbes, it cost British Airways £500 million ($646 million) or even more.
That’s a big loss for any business, right?
Even if you’re in the US but have visitors from the European Union (EU)—you have to comply with the GDPR.
Based on its terms, “Fines for companies that do not comply with the GDPR can be as high as 4% of their annual global revenue or €20 million, whichever is higher.”
As an example, Google—based in California—was fined €50 million in 2019 by France’s GDPR enforcement agency.
Website security is a legal responsibility.
But here’s a big benefit…
Smart Insights found that Google also considers security in deciding which website shows first on the search results. Poor website security means less organic traffic and leads.
So find a web design company that knows how to protect your website from hacks and frauds.
PRO Tip: When visiting a web company’s website, look at its URL from your browser. There must be a “padlock” sign, signifying that the connection is secure (Like the figure below).
Suppose you’re a logistics company in New York, but when people search on Google for “logistics company New York”—they can’t find you?
That’s why you need SEO.
Although you can do social media marketing and ads, it costs more than getting organic traffic through search engines like Google.
And according to Neil Patel, most of the web traffic still comes through search engines (organic search), not Facebook or Twitter.
You should optimize the website for the keyword/topic relevant to your niche. It could be keywords like “gym instructor,” “pet grooming services,” or “small business consultancy.”
Your website should also include analytic tools that measure your SEO metrics like:
With analytics, you know how to optimize your website for better searchability.
So find a web design company that can guide you and help optimize your website. Then you can increase your organic traffic and gain more leads.
It’s harder now to beat the competition.
According to statistics, thousands of new websites are created each day. And for sure your competitors are working hard on their websites too.
One way to get people’s notice is creating quality content consistently and adjusting the website layout/functions—based on the behavior of your website users.
You can’t create a website and just leave it. A good website improves as your business grows.
So find a web design company not just for a website launch, but for future revisions and improvements too.
We’ll talk more about this in Chapter 5 below.
Websites are costly, depending on how complex it is and how you build it.
If a web design company uses website builders like Wix, you might buy a lot of plugins from Wix’s “marketplace” just to get the right design and function of the website.
A single platform like Wix is limited.
But if the company uses an open-source platform like WordPress or Joomla, there are more free and premium plugins to choose from. And it gives more flexibility in customizing your website.
So find a web design agency that uses cost-effective and flexible tools for building a website.
PRO tip: It’s true that website builders like Wix and Weebly are easy and convenient to use. Anyone can learn how to use it within 30 minutes and start building a stunning website. But in the long run, it’s limiting for a growing business.
Now that you know the crucial website features to request from a web design company, let me share 4 aspects you should expect from the company itself.
Although stunning designs are important, that’s not your ultimate goal as a small business. Find a web design company that offers the top results you need: More leads and sales.
If customer satisfaction and sales are the ultimate objective, other factors like good design, quick loading speed will follow.
PRO Tip: If a web design company promises to give you 10x traffic in the first 1-2 months of your website, that’s too good to be true. According to most SEO firms, it takes at least 6 months to 1 year of consistent content creation and SEO practices before you see significant growth in web visitors.
Especially if you want long-term good results, it’s best to choose a company that has experience growing other businesses’ website and marketing.
FIRST, look at the company’s portfolio.
Most agencies feature their previous works on their website. Check it and evaluate their clients’ websites.
Did it load fast? Does it look professional? Are all buttons and links working?
SECOND, look at the company’s testimonials.
It could be a page or a section on their website. Some link to testimonials on their business pages on Google My Business, Facebook or Yelp.
What do people say about the company? Are there negative experiences?
Of course, it’s best to choose a web design company with existing satisfied clients.
PRO Tip: To learn if the company’s testimonials are genuine, search for the website of the “testimonial provider.” On their websites, scroll down to the bottom which usually includes text like: “Design by _____” or “Website by _____.” The web company should be mentioned there. (See example below)
As mentioned, you can’t let a web design company build and launch your website, and leave it that way forever. They must be willing to grow with your business too.
So check the websites of their existing clients. Is it active and growing too? Check the blog or social media pages.
There must be a sign that the websites the company creates are built for long-term business growth.
PRO Tip: Check the web design company’s case study of their clients (if available). If the study shows increased leads and sales for the client, then that company can help you grow as well.
Companies charge differently.
Most agencies give a custom quote based on your website features, pages, number of products, etc.
For example, one company’s cost calculator shows that a website with 10-20 pages has an estimated cost of around $2,000-3,000. The final quote will depend on your specifications.
Other companies provide “standard” packages for their services, and each package has certain features included.
For example, a “Starter Plan” would include 10-15 pages and 5 products, while a “Business Plan” includes 20-30 pages, 50 products, and a free SSL.
On another hand, few agencies charge a fixed amount on a subscription-basis. While you’re subscribed, they’ll work on your website project regardless of how big it is.
For example, Marketing by Rob has standard subscription-based packages starting at only $99/month. As long as your subscription is active, you can request for web design revisions or improvements.
Each of these “payment schemes” has advantages and disadvantages. So evaluate if the features—and results promised—are worth the price.
We’ll talk more about this in Chapter 5 below.
PRO Tip: When choosing standard packages, it’s best to look for competitors for comparison. Some offer the same features at a more affordable price. But of course, don’t forget about the company’s credibility and track record.
We talked about what to expect from a web design company. Now, let me give some tips on how to work with a web agency.
Let the company know exactly what you want.
If you don’t have an exact idea of what the website should look like, discuss your desired results with the web design company.
At least talk about:
With these ideas, the web company can suggest specific features and styles based on their expertise.
Aside from the features of the website, ask what to expect from the company concerning the project and the service itself.
At least talk about:
Remember that a web design company is a comprehensive team of digital marketers, web developers, graphics designers, and writers.
So maximize their professional ideas and expertise.
Defining every single piece and element on the website will only slow down the process. And it limits the ideas to just one standard.
Just give the general specifications and expected results. Then let the company use their collective ideas to make it a reality.
Delegating the website doesn’t mean you stay out of it. Observe the progress and make sure everything is heading towards your desired results.
Here are some best practices.
Don’t check multiple times a day. Expect comprehensive progress within 24-48 hours.
It’s hard to give feedback when the work is largely incomplete.
Before making a comment, verify first if the page/section is already done. Otherwise, the team could still be working on it.
How you send feedback should be discussed before the project starts. Some web design companies prefer that you send emails indicating the page and element you want to change.
Although that works—it could be better!
Here at Marketing by Rob, we use WP Feedback for clearer communication of what you want to happen on your website.
If you want to change an icon or text on a specific page, select the “+” sign to add a feedback, click on the page element, and insert the comment. It’s as simple as 1-2-3.
But whatever process you agree on with the company, specify your feedback clearly. Keep an open communication until everything is done toward the website launch.
We’ve discussed the best practices when working with a web design company. Now I’ll tell you how to maximize your website so it also grows your business.
But first, here again are the three reasons your website should grow intentionally.
In fact, many are growing fast. If these websites have more and better content, then your prospects will view your website as less credible.
You compete with both old and new websites created each day.
According to Search Engine Journal, a new website can still outperform old websites if it has better content for its target audience.
Search engines like Google always improve the way it evaluates websites and how to rank them on search results.
So you need to keep implementing the best SEO practices and improvements on your website.
Improving your website doesn’t mean you simply change the layout and elements on the pages.
It must be strategic.
Here are four steps or keys to implement a growth-driven web design.
These tools will show how your website performs online:
Keeping track of these metrics help you understand what to improve on your website.
The more content you produce, the more search engines detect that your website is updating.
In basic terms, it signals to search engines that your website is active and could be valuable. Then, search engines will keep navigating your website (i.e. crawl) and identify how it would rank when people search for its topic/keywords.
That’s why your website should have a blog.
While you implement the best practices for blogging and SEO, you must evaluate the results regularly.
It should identify two things:
Keep in mind that you can’t see definite results in 1-3 months.
Keep implementing a particular strategy for at least 3 months before deciding what to change, remove or improve on your website.
Based on the website analytics and your performance audit, make the necessary changes.
Does your product landing page have few conversions? Try changing the call-to-action button’s color or position.
Do people quickly leave your site when viewing the home page? Try revising the content to make it clearer and more engaging.
Then keep track of your website performance again.
Doing this cycle helps you grow and improve your website, gain more traffic and leads, and increase your sales over time.
Now that you have basic knowledge on how to grow your website, you must find a web design company that values the same thing—GROWTH.
As we discussed above, some companies offer standard packages while others offer subscription-based services.
Let’s make a comparison…
Scenario: You want to launch a website and got two choices:
12 months after the website launch, here’s your costs:
Then the next month, you decide to make a major change on the website
Then after 5 months, you want a new minor revision
So in the course of one and a half year, here’s your TOTAL costs:
Now, here are the major takeaways . . .
So that should be your consideration when choosing a web design company.
If you don’t want to improve your website so often within a year, then single payment projects could be cost-efficient.
But if you wish to grow your website once or twice a year based on its performance, then a subscription-based plan works best.
Just keep in mind—if you want your business to grow over the years, your website should grow with it as well.
So to find the best web design company for your small business, take these considerations:
Now that you know everything about choosing the best website design company for your business—do it.
Build and launch your website, and make your business grow successful.