How to find a reliable and affordable web design agency

This article provides a useful summary of the most important characteristics to prioritise when searching for a reliable and affordable web design agency.

Your presence on the web is the face you show to the world. You want a professional-looking website, but smaller businesses are typically on a budget. How can you find a reliable web design agency that won’t break the bank?

According to Statista, there were two million websites when Google launched, and today there are over 1.88 billion of them. While not all are active and some simply point to other addresses, there’s still a massive number of sites for users to choose from. You need an experienced designer to help you navigate the overcrowded waters of the internet.

How can you know if a web design agency is reliable? There are some things all good agencies have in common you can look out for.

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1. Successful web design case studies

Spend time poking around their client files. What do the sites look like they’ve designed in the past? Are the websites they’ve built well maintained and modern? You may even want to reach out to some of their clients and ask for their views on the web design agency’s services.

Ask the web design company for some examples of their best work. They may have clients who are not listed on their pages. You’ll be able to see the full scope of their design capabilities by looking at multiple jobs they’ve worked on.

2. Solid pricing structure

Subscription-based pricing might be a good deal for you unless you rarely need help with your website. There’s no point paying for a service you aren’t using. The average software as a service (SaaS) company spends a mere six hours on its pricing structure. SaaS might include a company offering website editing where you can do some of the work yourself.

You want to ensure you have the support you need to make your website customised. You also don’t want to pay for more than you need. Ask as many questions as possible about what happens as you scale up. Is there a way to buy only the services you need and farm the rest out to your employees, for example?

It isn’t that subscription is better than user-based pricing or vice versa. It’s about finding the model that works best for your needs. Some more flexible design agencies may be willing to customise their pricing models to suit your specific needs.

SJW Plumbing Website Design on Mobile | Clear Design
Mobile view of an adaptive website built by Clear Design

3. Skills matching your needs

Make a list of the things you want in a website. What are your must-haves? For example, if you run a small retail business, you need a digital shopping cart and possibly inventory control.

Make sure the web design firm you hire has created similar setups in the past and fully understands the workings of a shopping cart and how it combines with inventory software to save you time and effort.

On the other hand, if you want a blog to share company news, you may want someone more adept at building and managing WordPress sites.

4. SEO Services

Does the web designer understand the basics of SEO and how to optimize your site for search engines? While no one can guarantee top ranking, they can add in the appropriate keywords and guide you toward the marketing methods most likely to result in first-page results.

At some point, you may want to up your SEO game, so look for a firm also offering marketing features. You can always add on and increase your content marketing and even take out advertising on search engine sites, social media and elsewhere.

5. Good Communication

According to IBISWorld, there are around 77,094 web design service businesses in the United States alone. You don’t have to settle for a designer who doesn’t put your needs first. Seek out a company with excellent communication skills.

You may think the site will cost X dollars to create, but if the details aren’t clear, the end cost could be much more. You also want someone who listens to you. You’ll waste a lot of time, effort and money trying to convince someone to add a feature you already know your site needs.

Does the company respond quickly when you have a question? Are their answers clear? Do you have one point of contact or have to explain your business again every time you ask a new question?

6. Turnaround Time

How long will it take to build your site or do updates? From agreement to the first mockup shouldn’t take more than a week or two. Obviously, if the firm is a bit backlogged, this can mean they are in high demand. Only you know how long you can afford to wait, but you also want a company that will jump in and fix things during an emergency situation.

Ask questions such as how long minor updates take, who fixes emergencies with sites and what numbers you can call in a pinch.

7. Separate Ownership

If you create a site using SaaS on a site where they have templates and you just plug in your details, you are renting their design. You don’t own it and you can’t move it to another hosting company later. You’ll have to pay to rebuild it again.

Talk to your potential web design firm about who owns the design you pay for and if you have the option to move it to another host later. You may pay a little more upfront for sole ownership, but it can save you a lot of expense and aggravation later should you choose to move your site or go with a different web design firm to handle your maintenance.

Choose Carefully

Walk through each step of the process carefully. The best web design agency for you is one with excellent communication and an understanding of your needs as a business. Ideally, the relationship is one lasting for many years, so you want to make sure you gather the information needed to make a long-term commitment.

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Stephen Cleary - Graphic Designer Profile
Stephen Cleary is an experienced Brand & Website Designer and the founder of Clear Design. He specialises in creating memorable brands and captivating websites that help businesses connect to their customers. View Stephen’s portfolio or get in touch.
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