Choosing The Right Web Design Company

Choosing The Right Web Design Company

The hidden gem among many

With the growing number of business web design companies all offering (at least on paper) similar services; how do you as a new start-up or existing brand filter out the best and choose the right website design company for your next online project?

Below we highlight 8 key points we think are vital when comparing web design companies to help make an informed choice, sending in your first enquiry for the most effective proposals and things to avoid.

1. Understanding your project and preparing a good brief

Whichever web design company you contact; the first thing they will ask for is a written brief or description of your project. Think of a brief as your way of introducing yourself, your business and your overall project scope. Your project is exciting so give that impression through your introduction. Try avoid being so in depth that your project sounds convoluted, off-putting or more complicated than it really is; starting with a short history of your idea's growth and listing bullet points of requirements is a great way to start. Remember at this stage you're trying to determine the best fit for your business and to get an approximate price; the detailed stuff can come later once you have settled on an ideal business web design company.

2. Keeping things clear and to the point

It's important to be clear with your description, remember the web design company will need to read through your brief and evaluate potential cost and resources to complete your project; if your enquiry is hard to understand, vague or badly written, you'll only get more questions sent back or totally ignored. Include the key features of your site and always request answers to any specific questions about technology, features or methods that may affect your project or budget. Finding that synergy between you and your designer is very much about being on the same page and them understanding the needs of your business; asking questions is the easiest way to see who's really not worth pursuing any further or indeed which companies can bring expertise, ideas and creativity to the table.

3. Looking through online portfolios

Probably the easiest way to determine the quality of work you can expect is by looking through the web design company's portfolio. You can't get better than seeing what they have done for others; maybe even others in your niche. Unimaginative template driven websites, lack of finesse or sites that don't look very competitive for their market are a good indication a company may be lacking certain skills and are probably best avoided. If you have a complicated brief, does it look like the company has tackled challenging subjects before or have worked on a wide range of projects just like yours? If your site would be part of a particular niche market, look for similar or related examples or ask how they would tackle your particular project through either examples or a written proposal.

Looking through a web design portfolio won't have all the answers so you should prepare some questions but it will certainly help gauge whether the company is capable of delivering your project from start to finish and at the best quality.

4. Transparency: speak to someone directly

A very simply one but as with everything on the World Wide Web, design companies who hide or don't display their contact details may not be who they say they are or have a genuine customer facing aspect to their business (which is important). Always check for a phone number as it's always helpful to speak with someone directly or in case you do go ahead with them, how might you communicate with them in the future should your website go down or need updating?

5. Review company feedback or customer reviews

Looking through customer feedback or social networking pages is a good way to see if any of your concerns have been solved for others; for example delivery time, turnaround or increases in sales should be important to you; how have others responded to these points. Additionally some web design businesses will have a frequently asked questions page, see if any of your questions have been answered there as well.

6. Ad hoc services: building a long term relationship

Once your new site is up and running; the last thing you want is to be left high and dry; that's why it's important to gauge how much support, on-going development or room for expansion your chosen web designer can offer. Will your site be flexibly built so it can be updated in the future without massive additional cost? Can they support you through other business marketing needs such as social networking, Facebook business pages, newsletters or SEO? Create a short list of services you believe you may require in the coming months after your site would be complete and let potential companies know. Companies which provide an 'integrated service' can usually provide an across the board level of service which is best for both keeping costs down and maintaining consistency across your brand.

7. Ownership: making sure you own everything

When working with a design company it's important to recognise ownership of the work you're paying for. It's not uncommon for some business web design companies to retain ownership of parts of the work; especially if they provide some type of pay-monthly service or include features for 'free' such as domain name hosting. Always check their terms and conditions or simply provide your own contract which stipulates ownership.

Buy your own domain name and if the company is providing web hosting as part of the service and check you will have access to a control panel in the event you need to retrieve your website files. Having said that most respectable web design companies such as ourselves, will never retain ownership of any aspect of your project and provide all customers relevant passwords for features we have setup on their behalf.

8. How much? Weighing up cost vs quality of service

You may be wonder why we kept questions of price till last; well it's because we feel it's the last thing you should be asking; even if you're on a tight budget. With most business web companies you tend to get what you pay for and going straight for the cheapest option can often just lead to you going through this check list all over again a year later. Dirt cheap doesn't always mean good; it needs to be weighed up with all the factors above. An experienced web design company will usually offer the best and most detailed proposal which is also flexible and more often than not a middle ground can be met with regards to price or payment options. You'll get high quality but for less than you might have been expecting. The flip-side to this is that you should also be cautious of high priced web companies; if you have worked through this checklist, you should have a pretty good idea which companies on your shortlist are worth their weight in gold.

As much as you're enthusiastic about your new project so will an interested web design company and they will have no problem lowering their costs if it means joining you on that journey.


Finding the ideal web design company can be extremely tedious if your only browsing based on cost or short term gain; it's very easy to be misled in this way and end up wasting time and money. By following a methodical approach in much the same way you would for other important aspects of your life such as planning a wedding, your sure to end up with the right fit the first time and get your next project off to a flying start with a solid partnership for the future.