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Find the Best Web Design Company for Your Small Business: The Only Guide You Need in 2020

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What is a Web Design Company?

A web design company is a team of developers and designers who set up and customize a website for you. The best web design company is one that is concerned both with the performance and aesthetic aspects of your website, making sure it looks professional, loads fast and delivers results—including leads and sales.

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.

Quick Summary

How to Find the Best Web Design Company

  1. It should be credible and reliable, ensuring to give results like increased website traffic, leads and sales
  2. It should provide the necessary features, security and performance of a professional website
  3. It should have a clear understanding of your website specifications and branding style preferences
  4. It should provide a clear and effective way for you to give feedback and stay on top of  the website project
  5. It should allow revisions and make your website grow as your small business grows long-term.

The Basics of Hiring a Web Agency

1. Understand if you need a web design company or a freelance developer

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.

2. Know your goals and preferences for the website

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.

3. Look for a company that will give results

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.

4. Clarify specifications and expectations on the website project

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.

5. Keep improving your website for long-term business growth

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.

Chapter 1

Benefits of Working with a Web Design Company

Let’s first consider why you should work with a web agency to build a website for your business.

1. Save more time and effort for better growth

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.

save time with a web design agency

Source Image: Michael Hyatt

2. Get access to a greater pool of professional skills and more quality results

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.

3. Get consistent value

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.

4. Enjoy long-term guarantee

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.

Chapter 2

Must-Have Website Features to Demand from a Web Design Company

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.

1. Usability and user-friendliness

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.

website user experience

So make sure the web design company can build you a website that:

  • Has no broken links and pages
  • Loads quickly, and
  • Is optimized for desktop and mobile views.

2. Professional design and aesthetics

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.

3. Strategic content layout

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:

  • A — Attract
  • I — Interest
  • D — Desire
  • A — Action.
Sales Funnel AIDA Model

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.

4. Proper web maintenance

Imagine if 20 people are interested in your business now, but when they visit your website—it’s broken and unavailable.

According to Uptrends:

"When a website or web service is not available online or doesn't function well enough for end users to complete a task, the site is considered to be experiencing downtime. Although most websites and web services strive for zero downtime, downtime is inevitable."

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:

“73% of mobile users encountered a website that was too slow to load. And 38% encountered a website that wasn’t available. Needless to say, if a site is down, 100% of the site visitors are turned away.

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.

5. Industry-standard security

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).

Website Security

6. Search-engine optimization (SEO)

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.

SEO Metrics

Image Source: Neil Patel

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:

  • Where your traffic comes from
  • What type of people are using your website
  • What are your most-viewed pages and content, and
  • What keywords you rank the most.

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.

7. Long-term growth

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.

8. Cost-efficiency

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.

Chapter 3

What to Look for in a Web Design Company Before Hiring Them

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.

1. Results

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.

2. Good track record

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)

Footer Designed By Credits

3. Growth-Orientation

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.

4. Fair cost

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.

Chapter 4

How to Work with a Web Design Company [Effectively]

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.

1. Set clear specifications

Let the company know exactly what you want.

  • How many pages do you want? Which pages? (e.g. Home page, contact us)
  • Do you need landing pages for your products?
  • Will you accept online payments?

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:

  • What information about your offer and business do you want to show on the website?
  • What kind of branding style do you want?
  • What kind of customer experience will people have when purchasing your products?

With these ideas, the web company can suggest specific features and styles based on their expertise.

2. Clarify expectations and agreement

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:

  • What hosting service will they use? Is it reliable?
  • How will they secure your website?
  • When and how will you communicate with each other for feedback?
  • What will be the estimated time to complete the website?
  • Can you ask for revisions? How?
  • Will they help maintain the website after it’s been launched?

3. Welcome their ideas and creativity

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.

4. Stay on top of the project

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.

a. Check the website once or twice a day

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.

b. Use an effective way of giving feedback on the website

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.

Wed Design WP Feedback

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.

Chapter 5

Grow Your Business with Growth-Driven Web Design

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.

a. Thousands of existing websites are growing

In fact, many are growing fast. If these websites have more and better content, then your prospects will view your website as less credible.

b. Thousands of new websites are made

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.

c. Search engine algorithms are changing

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.

How to Grow Your Website Over Time

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.

Key #1: Understand your website analytics

You should link your website to analytics tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. Or you can also try user behavior analytics like HotJar.

These tools will show how your website performs online:

  • Where your web visitors come from
  • How visitors browse your website
  • Which portions of your website get the most attention
  • How long visitors stay on your website
  • What keywords you should use to rank higher

And more.

Keeping track of these metrics help you understand what to improve on your website.

Web Design Analytics

Key #2: Do consistent content creation and marketing

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.

Key #3: Have a quarterly performance audit

While you implement the best practices for blogging and SEO, you must evaluate the results regularly.

It should identify two things:

  • What works in your website
  • What doesn’t work.

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.

Key #4: Perform A/B testing and website revisions

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.

So which is the best web design company for growth?

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:

  • Company A — Standard Package (15-20 pages) — $2,000 all-in
  • Company B — Subscription based — $99/month

12 months after the website launch, here’s your costs:

  • Company A — $2,000 (No additional)
  • Company B — $1,386 (Additional 12 months of $99/month)

Then the next month, you decide to make a major change on the website

  • Company A — Charges $700 
  • Company B — Charges $99

Then after 5 months, you want a new minor revision

  • Company A — Charges $300
  • Company B — Charges $99

So in the course of one and a half year, here’s your TOTAL costs:

  • Company A — $3,000
  • Company B — $1,782

Now, here are the major takeaways . . . 

  1. Subscription-based web design services look cheap at the start. But in the long run, it also accumulates higher costs during your active subscription
  2. In short-term, one-time standard packages and subscription-based web designs have minimal difference
  3. But in long-term, along with website revisions, subscription-based web design services are more cost-efficient.

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.

CONCLUSION

So to find the best web design company for your small business, take these considerations:

  1. It should be credible and reliable, ensuring to give results like increased website traffic, leads and sales
  2. It should provide the necessary features, security and performance of a professional website
  3. It should have a clear understanding of your website specifications and branding preferences
  4. It should provide a clear and effective way for you to give feedback and stay on top of  the website project
  5. It should allow revisions and make your website grow as your small business grows long-term.

That’s it! 

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.

Discover if Marketing by Rob is the best fit for your small business

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