How To Choose A Web Design Company: 3 Basic Criteria To Consider
by Andrew Millar
Web design like the internet itself is still in its infancy. If ever the warning, buyers beware, applied, this is the industry. In order to know how to choose a web design company with 3 basic criteria to consider, it’s important to review the landscape first.
The primary problem with web design firms is that the bar is so low to get started. All it takes is for a designer and programmer to lay claim to a business name, hang out a virtual shingle and they’re in business. This brings us to first criteria to consider: how well do they service their clients? Design and programming may be adequate but are they able to deliver on time as promised? Because this is a field where the client has little experience, he is subject to the expertise of the design company. Many times you as the client arrive with unrealistic visions of how you would like your website to function and appear after having viewed the razzmatazz of a Fortune 500 company’s website. A designer’s primary job is to listen carefully to you and explain what is possible within your budget; in other words he has to manage your expectations. Then he has to deliver on time, meet the promised deadline.
It’s in this area of communication where you as the client are likely to run into the greatest challenge. Part of this is inherent in the industry: web design and development is not account-based like traditional service firms (advertising, telecom, business supply). It is project-based. As a result you will not find traditional support teams or account managers. Clear communication becomes even more important.
Good Project Management Is Critical
You know from your own experience that the ability to be well-organized is essential to getting jobs done and on time. Because, by its nature, website design offers unlimited variety, countless options may be reviewed and discussed each with its own set of variables. This opens the door to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Find out what project management tools your prospective web designer uses. Why not even ask them for a demonstration.
Again clear communication is critical.
My best advice when you are considering how to choose a web design company is to look for those with staying power. How long have they been in business? This criterion alone indicates a group capable of delivering reliable service. Follow up on their references. Actually speak with their clients and ask how well they worked with them. And, finally, once again, how well organized do they appear to you? After your first meeting with them whether it’s by phone, online web-sharing or in person, have them re-cap the important points and list the next steps. This will indicate to you how well they will manage information going forward. In The E-Myth, Why Most Businesses Don’t work and What To Do About, http://michaelegerbercompanies.com/, Michael E. Gerber explains that just because you are good at doing something, it doesn’t mean that you are good at managing the production of that thing.
That’s why it’s important to look for longevity. You can be reasonably assured that web design companies that have been around for more than a few years are likely to be well-managed and reliable.