With endless web design companies out there, choosing a solution for your new or redesigned site can seem like a daunting task. At first glance, most of your options may seem equal. After all, they all lead to pretty websites, right?
Choosing a web design team that truly has your business’ best interest at heart requires going a little deeper. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can follow for muddling through what companies tell you and ultimately choosing a web design team that will provide several long-term benefits for your business.
1. Check to see if they make 100% responsive websites
With mobile devices accounting for nearly 60% of online searches, it’s no surprise that many web design companies brag on their ability to create websites that look good on smartphones. But pay attention to the specific words that they use — do they use the term “responsive web design” or do they avoid it with terms like “mobile-friendly design”? This distinction is critical.
In many cases, companies that create mobile-friendly websites create two separate versions of the same site: one for desktop and one for mobile. Responsive design, on the other hand, adapts as the screen size changes, functioning properly in a nearly limitless variety of sizes. These websites look good on desktop, tablet, and mobile — but they also stand the test of time by adapting to new devices and screen sizes with ease.
We could write a full article on responsive design (and we have), but these are the key takeaways to consider as you choose your web design team:
- Responsive design provides the best user experience. Regardless of their laptop screen size or the type of smartphone they’re using, a user will enjoy a properly functioning website on any screen.
- Responsive web design is the future. While it’s become quite the buzzword, responsive design is anything but trendy. Many SEO experts predict that responsive design will be the standard in web design. Non-responsive designs will soon be considered outdated and in need of a redesign.
- Responsive design may improve your site’s SEO. Experts have been predicting that responsive design would improve search rankings, and we’re starting to see these predictions come to fruition. Google officially recommends responsive design, and it may not be long before it’s a substantial part of their algorithm.
Companies who offer mobile-friendly websites, but not responsive websites, often try to pass them off as equals. An easy way to test for yourself? Take a look at one of their example sites (or even their own website) on your computer. Gradually shrink your window and watch how the website adjusts.
2. Ask: “How do you approach content?”
There’s a reason that Moz, an SEO software company and perhaps the largest authority in the SEO world, has more than 250 blog articles dedicated solely to the topic of content. There’s an overused phrase in the SEO industry that “content is king,” and this statement only becomes truer with each Google update.
Content used to be as simple as dropping keywords on a page and giving the copy a quick edit. Now, it’s much more complex. The best content marketing is highly strategic, even predicting user intent to determine the entire structure of the site.
Content marketing is extremely important and complex, and many companies don’t know how to approach it correctly. In fact, many companies are still stuck in the old ways of content or consider it the lowest priority in web development. Ask the web design team you’re considering how they handle content, who’s in charge of it, and how they will determine a content strategy for your site. The best companies will lay out a strategic, thoughtful approach because they know how crucial content is for your website’s success.
3. Start a conversation about user experience
Your website should be many things: aesthetically pleasing, informative, and compelling — and at the root of it all, it should be functional. While this may seem like a simple topic, user experience should serve as the foundation for your web design team’s efforts.
Experienced web designers let usability drive everything they do. If you ask why they placed a button where they did, they’ll have a thoughtful response. They take a smart approach to choosing colors, determining spacing, picking fonts, and more. And it’s all because they’re carefully considering how to provide the best possible experience for the user.
This is a stark contrast from simply making a website that looks nice, and it can have lasting implications for your business. Consider these examples from InVision:
- Adding infinite scrolling lowered Time.com’s bounce rate by 15%.
- ESPN.com experienced a 35% jump in revenue after incorporating community feedback in their design.
- Choosing a specific shade of blue led to an $80 million increase in Bing’s revenue.
- Slow page loading speeds cost retailers $2.6 billion in lost sales each year.
- Website first impressions are 94% design related.
A good user experience leads to happier customers, and it also leads to measurable metrics like lower bounce rates, longer read times, and higher conversion rates. Ask your potential web design team how they’ll ensure that your new website will be as user-friendly as possible. If they’re prepared to walk you through their approach — and they seem excited to do so — you can bet they’ll be thinking about your users just as passionately when they create your new website.
Quick final steps
Following the three steps above isn’t a lengthy process, but it will definitively separate your web design options. As you get closer to honing in on the right web design team for your business, don’t forget the following steps:
Check their examples from various clients. A web design team that has successfully created websites in a variety of industries will bring a creative, problem-solving approach to your website. Look for unique functionality across sites, which points to a tailored approach for each of their clients.
- Read up on their reviews and social media profiles. A quick search will likely produce both Google+ and Yelp reviews for the company, but don’t forget their social media accounts. Many customers turn to Facebook to either praise or complain, which can be very telling as you research the company.
Throughout this process, remember that nothing beats a direct conversation with the experts who will be working on your website. The right team for you will be one that’s happy to answer your questions and be honest with you every step of the way.