How to Choose a Web Design Company

Chris Sams, October 19, 2015

When it’s time to design or redesign your website, you have a number of options available to get it done: DIY, have a friend design it, use a free online service, or hire a professional web design company. Naturally, at JEMSU we believe our clients get the most ROI with an expertly designed site, and there’s a ton of research that supports our position.

A skilled web design company is not merely about awesome fonts, beautiful color schemes and great graphics. Those things matter, but so do these:

  • A great site is built for search engine optimization
  • If you want to convert, your site will need a clear call to action on your homepage
  • A quick-loading site that doesn’t frustrate users
  • A site that is optimized for all platforms
  • A design that delivers the best online experience to potential clients, and so on

You get the picture — it takes a lot more than “shiny things” to build a great website. Most companies can benefit from the knowledge and experience of an expert to help design their web presence. The challenge for you is in finding the one best suited to your particular needs and budget. A great first step is to take a look at the agency’s work portfolio to see what it conveys about their capabilities and skills.

So, how you best read and analyze a web design company’s portfolio? Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Start With the Resume. Pretty imagery is lovely, but you’ll need to balance that first visual impression with a clear-eyed look at the designer’s entire resume. Look for things such as years of experience, formal education, whether you recognize any of the companies or agencies mentioned, and how the design company positions itself:
    • A new grad portfolio will often be heavy on student projects. Check to see if any of their design work is in your field.
    • A visual/UI designer is great at making your homepage sing aesthetically, but they should also be able to create a consistent brand system for you.
    • When analyzing web designers and experienced UX designers, look for evidence that they’ve tackled longer, challenging projects and are not just about building content sites.
  • Scrutinize the Designer’s Own Portfolio Design. Does their website speak to you as a potential customer? That can give you great insight into whether they can do the same for your business. Is the site easy to navigate? Navigation should be intuitive; in other words, are there links where you’d instinctively like them to be?
  • Examine Each Work Example. Does the web design company show that they understand the problem they were solving for a client? There should be information that you relate to personally, something that leads to you thinking, yes, that’s exactly what I need. How does the designer define the successful way they solved a client’s problem? They should talk about defined goals and met expectations, and they should be able to communicate this to you clearly.

After a careful scrutiny with these points in mind, take time to think long and hard about what the web designer is communicating through their portfolio. What they focus on, what they are saying, and how they say it gives you important insight into what they value. It’s up to you to decide if those values align with your own.

Remember, you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression, so it’s important to get your website designed right the first time. While it will continue to evolve as times and technology change, your core message and brand should be viable from the start.

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