So you’re convinced—your website needs a redesign. Our region is positively crawling with web designers, isn’t it? You can select from dozens and dozens of DC web design firms. Or you can try to find freelancers on Craigslist or Upwork. Find the least expensive one with a decent-looking portfolio and you think you’re ready to go.
But hold on: Do you know what’s really involved in creating an effective, engaging website? If you’re considering hiring outside help to design or redesign your business website, what expertise do you really need? Hiring a web designer or website design agency can be frustrating and risky. Here’s our advice to help ensure that your will receive a quality website.
It Takes a Village to Create a Proper Website
A successful website has many components, along with a wide range of skills and experience. From visuals to coding to branding, what do you need to outsource?
- Project Managers/ Producers work with you to listen to your requirements, manage the web design process, and coordinate with other team members.
- Website Designers create the layout, graphics, and navigation of your site. They choose colors and images that resonate with your target audience. They keep tabs on trends in the current web design world and whether they work for your site. Designers today also need to take mobile design into account.
- User Experience and Usability Experts make sure that your website is easy to navigate and optimized for the best experience for your users. Users have low tolerance for difficult websites. They also have high expectations from your business to fulfill their needs. These guys help close the gap between what your customers want and what you provide when it comes to their experience.
- SEO Experts do the research to make sure your web site can be easily found by search engines, and integrate best practices into your website from the beginning. How is your technical SEO? Have you done everything properly for your on site optimization? Do you have a site map, right keywords, compelling and easy to digest content for both readers and bots?
- Content Writers create the content for your webpage, including headlines with a call to action and easy-to-scan text that grabs your visitors, all while keeping SEO in mind.
- Website Developers create the actual website and implement the design for your site through technical know-how. They code, work with content management systems such as WordPress, and perform nitty-gritty tasks such as domain registration and solving server issues. Have an online store, a form, or other function that needs to be integrated? Your developer will build the code behind it.
As you can see, there’s a lot more going on than just “hiring a web designer.” Can one person really wear so many hats at once? If you’re looking at a digital web design agency, do they have the team to take on all of these elements?
Branding and Strategy: The Foundation of a Great Site
A web design agency might have a great team in place to work on your site. But take a big step back and take a look at the big picture. Do you know why you need a new website? Do you have a clear idea of your goals—increase sales? Build brand awareness? Gather more leads? What do you want to communicate about your brand? Who’s your target audience?
Experts in branding and strategy as well as website design can help you define what you need from your website design at the beginning of the process. Check to see if they have experience in your sector, which means they’re likelier to have a clear understanding of your business, whether you’re B2C or B2C. Washington DC and Northern Virginia digital marketing firms with experience in technology and government contractors are particularly in demand.
Still ready for a website design or redesign? You need a team that can wear many hats to create the right website for your business, a team with a wide range of skills. An agency with experts in digital marketing and website design can offer you branding know-how along with web development and design expertise in one package.
Code, User Experience, and SEO: The Backbone to a Solid Site
Deep down we all know that a pretty website doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good website. You wouldn’t want to own a home that wasn’t built with strong and reliable, so why would you want a website that is barely functional and vulnerable to attacks? There’s also much more involved in having a website than creating one. You need to properly maintain your website in order to keep it healthy. Hiring a full service website design company that will walk you through the process of owning a website, train you on what you need to know, and even maintain the website for you is what you should do if you aren’t well versed in the ways of the website-force.
Our Advice for Hiring Not Only A Good Web Design Company …But The One That Is Right For You!
So we’ve explained how important it is to hire people that know what they are doing. But how do you actually go about doing this? Many are satisfied with a pretty design and don’t dig any deeper during the vetting process. Well it’s time to step up your game a bit and have confidence when hiring a web design company.
- Ask tons of questions – Be sure to ask questions about:
- The website design process. Ask about site architecture, usability and user experience, wireframes, and final design.
- Who (what roles) will be on the website team
- The CMS and how use friendly it will be for you and your team
- SEO and the process of getting that set up
- Price! Will they be billing you a flat fee or hourly?
- Time frame – Depending on what you are looking for it could be 2 months or over a year.
- Ask for references – Any successful web design agency will be able to provide 2 or 3 references for websites.
- Ask to see live samples – Ask for 3 samples of live websites they have created. The live part is important!
Hiring the right website design company is no easy task. The right company, agency, or even individual depends on what your needs are and what what your budget is. We are a web design company serving the Greater Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland area and would be delighted to help you on your journey of hiring a web designer. We do of course develop custom websites but we also have stepping in as a mediating third party on website projects to ensure that the project being developed and the end product is up to industry standards. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about our web design services or our website quality care.