Let's say you've decided to hire a professional. We can predict the next question on your lips:
How do I find the right one?
Start by giving serious thought to your site's function. Looks aren't enough; what do you need your website to do? Asked differently, what can your site do - or entice your customers to do - that would make your job easier and your business more efficient? Write down your wish list, alongside any questions or concerns you may have. You may also find it helpful to prioritize certain features, since greater functionality often equates to higher costs.
Once you’ve got an idea of your needs, you’ll want to find out which web design companies can cater to them. The best way to do this is by contacting a few companies directly and asking them questions:
Who are your past clients?
Some companies will design for practically any SMB. Others have taken the time to understand a niche more carefully. Those niche companies specialize in industries as diverse as contracting, facilities management, real estate, photography, healthcare and more. Finding a specialist often means a smoother process; they know your industry and can advise you as to what works best.
What is your process?
It’s important to understand what information web designers need to get the job done. For example, most web design companies ask you to share any photos, copy (the text that populates your web pages) and other assets that you would like included in the final designs.
Identifying these things early on will lead to less headaches for everyone involved. So, make sure you’re clear about what's expected from you and what you, in turn, expect from your designer.
What happens once you're done?
Some businesses have an in-house marketer or marketing team for blogging, social media, and web work. If that's your business, you may just need something that's easy to maintain once the designers have finished their bit. If you're technophobic and would rather someone else handled updates, find out if that's included.
What else is included in my plan?
Your site must be mobile friendly, so make sure that responsive web design (RWD) is part of the plan. On-page and off-page SEO is also essential, so it’s worth asking how they plan to work with this in mind. Their designs should also be optimized for the different web browsers and devices that your customers will be working with.
Who is my point of contact?
Some web design companies may allocate a team of people to work on your website, including account executives, project managers, designers, programmers, copywriters and SEO professionals. Find out who your point of contact is, and how they interface with the rest of the team.
May I see your references?
Think about it. You're proud of your work and you're probably happy to have your clients sing your praises. If a designer hesitates to put you in touch with a few clients, that should be a warning sign.