Choosing a web design company to work with

By Jemma Fong

When choosing a professional web design company to design your web site, it is important that you ask the following questions:

    • What quality of design work are you looking for? Will you be able to use template designs (already built) or do you require custom design? Not all graphic designers work specifically with web.  Many will either download an existing template and then just fill in your information – this makes it difficult for customization or changing the layout.  Others may provide custom design but may be provided by graphic designers who may not necessarily be cognizant of their skills with respect to designing an optimized site for the Internet and search engines, understand about usability etc. Make sure to work with or consult with a professional web designer. Find out what skill sets they have, do they do the work or outsource? Who are the team members involved, what are their qualifications?
    • Do they charge extra for setting up your web server? This is where your site files reside in order for people to see your website online. Do they set this up for you as part of the package, or is this an extra fee?  Find out what is involved and their maintenance plan.
    • Do they do the work themselves or do they outsource? This is critical in knowing whether the budget is including an extra fee to cover the “middleman”.  Or do they do the work themselves? If they outsource is it local or overseas?
    • Look at their portfolio, does their tone of design reflect what you are looking for?
    • Are they courteous on the phone or email? Do they quickly return your emails or calls? Can you access them easily either by phone or email? Are they local?
    • What kind of business & marketing education do they have? Are they techies or do they have good business acumen and approach your web site design with sound business objectives?
    • Do they have good customer testimonials? What kind of feedback do you see? Case studies?
    • Are their web site and portfolio web sites easy to navigate?
    • Do you like their creative style? Or do their client sites all look alike?
    • Are they familiar with your industry? This isn’t necessarily imperative, but do they have the experience with sites that are either service oriented, consumer oriented, charity or business to business formats.
    • Does the web design package include search engine optimization and submission? Ask them the process in which they take to submit your website to the search engines. Do they mass submit, or manually?  Do they include an XML site map?
    • Do they have willingness to work with you collaboratively?
  • What kind of fall-back plan do they have or exit plan if anything goes array. Are there any terms and conditions, any contracts? What is their payment requirements, does it meet your agreement?

Typical Web Team – Web Designer, Graphic/Animator, Programmer/Developer, Web Marketer & Business Development, Copywriter, Photographer/Videographer, Web Editor, SEO Specialist & Project Manager

You may not need all these skill sets but depending on your requirements, it is essential to know the areas in which these skills and services apply. It is also beneficial to recognize where your strengths lie and where it is best to bring in a professional to meet your needs.



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