There is no denying it: every small business needs a website to succeed in the modern era. If your business has been around for some time without one, you may have experienced a level of success, but it could be greatly multiplied by having a good website. Perhaps you are just beginning your business and know that a great site is the ideal complement to any new business. Or maybe you already have a simple website in place but are looking for an upgrade to improve your company’s image and overall business.
Whatever the case, you will likely need to hire a web design firm or an independent designer to build the website for you. Very few business owners have the time or the inclination to learn all that goes into creating a successful website, and in fact, 54% of small businesses outsource website and graphic design according to the WASP Barcode 2016 State of Small Business Report. Unless you already have a background in web design or some (very) closely related field, you will have a much more efficient, appealing and successful website if you allow an expert to build it.
But knowing that you need to hire a web designer is only the first step in this situation. Now you must begin the process of researching, interviewing and eventually hiring a web design team. While you may be tempted to allow your nephew– who is “great with computers”– to build the site, this is your business and your livelihood we are talking about, and you will want it in the best, safest hands possible. In order to find those hands, consider the following elements.
If your potential designer does not offer a portfolio of sites which they have built in the past, move on immediately. The work a designer has done previously will be the best example of the kind of work they will do for you. Additionally, make sure these are live websites you can actually dive into and research personally, and not just screenshots of websites that may look nice but may not function so well (if at all).
One of the first steps you should take when looking for a designer is asking colleagues, friends, family, vendors, clients and anyone with whom you have a good relationship and who may be able to offer help. They should be able to suggest firms with whom they have worked in the past or designers they have heard good things about. The reputation of a designer and design company is critical, and you want to go with an established, well-known web designer that has done good work for those you know.
Many web designers go into a project with their own ideas (and templates) already in mind and are not very responsive to feedback from clients. These are the designers you should avoid like the plague. While you do want a design firm that will take the lead and offer creative, appealing and intriguing ideas, you also need them to hear you and listen to your ideas. You are an expert in your industry, after all, and you know what is best for your business.
Another issue that must be considered is what exactly you hope to achieve with your website. Are you building an eCommerce site to sell your products? Or is your site more informational and geared at conversion through promotion? No matter what you hope to achieve, you need to ensure you and your designer are on the same page.
This is the last item on the list for a reason. Your website will be the face of your company to more people than you can ever meet in-person. It will promote the image of your company, as well as your values and what you represent. To put it bluntly, don’t be cheap when choosing a firm. Obviously, the budget will be a consideration for any business– some more than others– but price should not be the number one priority or consideration when creating the face the world will see.