I recently found a great article in Forbes Magazine on this topic. I recommend reading it. I'm also adding a few points to Forbes' recommendations based on our experience as a web development business.
The writer expressed some dismay that only about half of business owners actually have a website. Worse, those businesses who actually have a website often have one that's not responsive, its design is outdated, or content is hard to find. Add all these things up, and we guarantee those businesses are chasing away customers. Which customers? The tech-savvy ones. These are the potential customers who, first, will check you out on the web long before you ever hear from them. No website, or a poor website, and you many never hear from them.
If you're thinking of getting an on-line presence or updating your outdated website, below are a few more things we think are important when shopping for a web design company. I don't want to be redundant, so please read the Forbes article, too.
- Ask about their hosting. We'd actually put this point first. Many web development companies will build you a nice website and put it on "shared" hosting. Why? It's cheap. But cheap costs. Shared web hosting will load your website very slowly (or sometimes, not at all). See our blog article on this topic. Would you buy a new car and put retread tires on it? Ask about their hosting plans.
- Find out if they know HTML and CSS programming. While you should focus your web design dialog on on topics such as business, marketing, design, trends, and price, this valuable point often is overlooked. Most smaller or part-time web development companies don't know anything about coding. All of those companies will use "load and go" templates, or builder platforms like Wix, Weebly, Square Space, or GoDaddy to build your website. The end result? A bland, cookie-cutter design. Looking at their portfolio will expose the flaws caused by lack of coding. Take our company's website, for example, as way to do it right. Look at the sidebar to your right, on this page. See the light grey separator lines between the blog titles? Those lines were custom created using CSS. No lines, and all the titles would be jumbled together making them harder to read. No coding means sloppy designing. This website has over 500 lines of custom coding.
- See if they understand SEO. I know the Forbes article touched on this topic. Ask questions to see if the web design company can understand your business and how their new web design can help promote it. Ask about keywords. Have you caught how I have intermixed two of the many keyword phrases used in this article: "web design" and "web development?" For our web design industry, these are two popular search terms. I intentionally, and carefully, intermixed them in this article to enhance NewDestinyMedia.com's search engine performance. You didn't notice, did you? That's the point.
Now, go shopping. Remember, the success of your business is at stake. It's your money. Invest wisely.