6 Key Factors In Choosing The Best Web Design Firm
You should pay careful attention to choosing a web design firm for your project. The decision should be based upon a careful and thorough evaluation of various web design firms out there.
Devoting some time to taking the right decision will pay you dividends in the long run. Proper due diligence of web design firms will include many factors as detailed below.
Web design firms come in various shapes and sizes — some are boutique setups consisting of 10 or so individuals while others may employ hundreds.
You could opt for a local web design firm or opt for a web design firm in an outsourcing destination such as India.
Pricing of Web Design
You should not opt for the lowest bidder’ whether you opt for onsite web design or a web design firm in India.
You should seek details and clarity from the web design firm as to project pricing methodology.
✓ Do they quote a single price for the entire project? And how much is it?
✓ Are they at all willing to share the break-up of the project cost?
✓ If the web design firm quotes a single price of $5,000 or $10,000, how do they propose to provide any support to the website after it goes live?
✓ What is the hourly rate the web design firm has for website SEO work?
✓ How much will the web design firm charge if they are asked to add seven more pages to the website after the initial web design plans are finalized and the website is almost ready or already online?
✓ If the web design firm mentions a single price for the total cost of your project, does the firm list that price on its website? Simplified project pricing can be great as long as it’s also transparent.
After all, SpaceX lists the price it charges for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket launch services on its website. Prices of Boeing airplanes such as the 777 or the 787 Dreamliner are similarly well known.
If the web design firm says it has an hourly pricing policy for various aspects of web design work that requires different skilled personnel, then they’ll need to be able to give an estimate of the total cost of your project. This total cost will give you an idea of whether it is in your budgeted cost estimate or not.
The salespersons of the web design firm should be willing to share the hourly rates they charge — preferably in writing, in an email so that these figures can be thought of as final prices when the time to sign the web design contract comes.
At a minimum, a website design firm should mention their hourly rates for:
✓ Photoshop design
✓ Database integration/implementation
✓ Website QA
✓ Website SEO
Web Design Timeline
Whether you go for a web design firm that quotes a single price for website design or has an hourly pricing system, be sure to find out the detailed timeline of a web design project, as per the web design firm.
The total estimated time for project delivery should be broken into milestones. There should be weekly milestones.
For a web design firm that quotes a price for the total project, payment can be related to these project milestones being reached. And if it is a web design firm that has hourly rates, it too should accomplish project milestones using the number of hours it has projected.
When you are at the stage of evaluating web design firms to find the best web design firm for your project, it is better to opt for a firm that gives a detailed timeline with lots of break-ups.
Web Design Project Management
Getting a sense of a web design firm’s project management capabilities is important in making an overall judgment about a web design firm.
✓ Does the web design firm employ PMP-certified personnel?
✓ How many PMPs or project managers does the web design firm have?
✓ Are they listed on the company website?
✓ What is the project lifestyle of a web design project used by the web design firm?
A typical web design project will have these phases:
✓ Wireframing/Photoshop design
✓ Web development
✓ Trial deployment
✓ Website QA
✓ Taking the website online
✓ Taking care of any problems after the website goes live and ensuring all of the website functionality is working as desired and the website is stable and there are no glitches.
Each of these project stages should have estimated timelines for completion.
Clearly, different kinds of websites will have different timelines. A WordPress-based content management system may go live fast with little content to begin with since the content will be posted over time.
An ecommerce website will be a more complex project and will therefore take longer.
Your potential web design partner will need to have a demonstrated ability to execute various web design projects.
Keeping track of project timelines and the hours consumed in different aspects of web design and development happens through Project Management software such as CA’s Clarity. Maintaining online timesheets is done using a time tracking software like Sage or through the project management software itself.
Web Design Firm’s Portfolio
One place you can visit to check the web design firm’s previous project delivery experience is the portfolio section on the web design firm’s own website.
The quality, variety and scope of the web design projects the firm has already delivered will give you a fairly accurate idea about the firm’s capabilities.
✓ Has the web design firm designed and developed many ecommerce websites?
✓ Has the firm worked with clients from many different countries (and continents)?
✓ Does the web design firm’s online portfolio have many Magento-based ecommerce websites and WordPress-based content management system websites?
Web Design Firm’s SEO Expertise
If you deploy a website but nobody finds out about it, your effort and expenditure goes down the drain. Website discovery happens through either search results or digital marketing and we will talk about digital marketing in the next section.
Search engine optimization (SEO) has gone through many changes in the time that the Web has been around and search engine spiders have been around indexing the Web.
SEO has evolved massively as search engines have gotten progressively smarter, more capable and sophisticated.
Google’s Panda and Penguin updates introduce continuous changes or tweaks to how Google itself lists and ranks the websites in the search results. Getting a high organic Google rank in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) is what the SEO game is all about.
Things that are required for websites to rank on page one of SERPs include:
✓ Optimization of the website for mobile devices, Smartphones, tablets
✓ Use of Schema markup for rich snippets display in search results
✓ Good quality, fresh content on blogs and content websites.
Having a great mobile website to go with the desktop version is essential since a majority of your website’s visitors may browse your website using iPhones, iPads or some Android device.
Even online shopping is happening more and more on mobile devices.
Established Indian web design firms like Mind Digital will have experienced SEO professionals on their payroll who will ensure that any websites designed by the firm are mobile-optimized.
An example of how Google’s search sophistication is increasing is that the SERP displays much more useful information.
If you search for ‘seafood restaurants’ in California, this is what you get. Screenshots of some more search results are shown below.
Google is able to show restaurant timings and reviews because of the use of Schema markup on those websites. Such helpful information can pull more visitors to an ecommerce website or get more customers to book a table at a restaurant.
Using structured data can improve a website in many ways. You can mark up articles, music, recipes, reviews, and TV & Movies and Video with structured data as Google shows here.
Professional SEO work at web design firms such as Mind Digital in India takes care of mobile website optimization, applying principles of Google’s ‘Material Design’ to web design and having a content plan to suit the needs of different websites.
Having blogs on websites is a good way to add fresh content to blogs.
Websites belonging to two entirely different kind of organizations and businesses —Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Boeing —both have blogs.
SEO professionals will help you home in on the right keywords to target on your blog’s content. Yes, content on blogs cannot just be random stuff but keyword-optimized so that the website gets a ranking boost in organic search results.
This serves as a kind of free or very inexpensive sort of digital marketing.
While performing due diligence of web design firms, ask them about their SEO expertise and whether they can write content for blogs that are search-engine optimized.
Web Design Firm’s Digital Marketing Expertise
From placement of display ads on the home page of The New York Times to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads on Google search results pages and Facebook/Twitter campaigns, digital marketing comes in different sizes to suit the advertising budgets of different online businesses.
So keeping your future digital marketing needs in mind, you should shortlist the potential web design firms based on their digital marketing expertise.
Many Indian web design firms also offer digital marketing services including digital ad buying and placement, PPC ad campaigns, landing page design, social media promotions and content marketing.
Facebook has caused disruptions in how people consume content and it has now become a vast digital advertising platform as well. With Facebook Instant Articles, it is now set to become a huge publisher of content as well. All in all, with 1.5 billion users — and growing — Facebook is the most influential platform in the world today and no digital marketing or outreach plan can afford to ignore it.
Depending on your target audience, you need to target your advertising on different social media platforms — FB of course but also Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and so on. Each social media platform comes with its own unique quirks and social media marketing professionals will design marketing campaigns for them accordingly.
How often to post updates to Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn and when? What is the optimum image size to go with those posts? What size image works best in mobile display ads?
These are some of the things to keep in mind when posting to social media.
In Conclusion …
Social media is powerful — it can both build reputations and destroy reputations. People take to Twitter to complain about brands and business when they have an unsatisfactory customer experience.
You can search for the name of the web design firm to see if people are talking about the firm or tweeting about the firm and if they are saying nice things or not so nice things about the company.
These are six key factors you should consider in choosing the best web design firm for your project.
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