Hiring a web design company to build your small business website is similar to hiring a marketing agency. Your small business website deserves professional treatment, as it represents the main gateway for reaching your target audience with your marketing message and small business branding.
Find professional help in designing your small business website
When businesses look to hire an ad agency, they contact ad agencies. In contrast, when they look to hire help for their website, too often they contact friends, relatives, or the guy down the street. Advice: Seek help from someone who not only has experience but also has a business doing the kind of work you need done. Here’s how to begin the selection process:
Search online for web designers in your city. If you’re considering a shop that doesn’t appear in the results, move on to another candidate. If the business you’re considering can’t optimize its own online presence, it probably can’t optimize yours.
Instead, contact companies that appear high in results. Even if they handle projects bigger than the one you’re undertaking, chances are good they can refer you to smaller shops they know and trust.
Check out the website of any firm you’re considering. Is it fast to load, attractive to look at, easy to navigate, and capable of making a great impression? These are qualities that you want in your own website, so it makes sense that your web design firm should execute them well.
Review a range of sites produced by the business. A good web design firm’s site features a portfolio of work. Click through the samples, looking for consistent quality and a range of unique site designs.
Also, look to see what kinds of clients are represented. If the clients concentrate in your business arena, you’ll likely benefit not only from technical expertise but also from awareness of how companies like yours use their sites to grow their businesses and interact with their clients — all important factors to a successful web presence.
Focus on website design needs for your small business
Before contacting website design firms, know what you’re looking for.
What kind of site are you building? Do you want a site that presents information as a complement to your bricks-and-mortar business or are you planning to invest in an interactive site that features an online store, e-mail subscription forms, a blog, an online catalog, photo galleries, product videos, or other features?
How many pages do you think your site will include? Search engines don’t require site maps for indexing small sites, but it’s still helpful to create a rough map you can share with designers for planning purposes.
Do you want to be able to update and edit your site’s content without relying on outside expertise?
What do you want your site to do? Do you want to make sales? Do you want to be able to easily store and retrieve information from a database?
How would you describe those you expect to visit your site, and how do you envision them reaching and using the site?
How do you plan to drive traffic to the site? Whether your site is primarily for use by established customers or for reaching new prospects affects how it’s designed and optimized for search engines.
What sites are similar in look and complexity to the one that you’d like to create?
Finalize your choice of small business website designer
When you think you’ve found your website designer, take two more steps. First, ask for and contact past clients to hear how they evaluate the expert. How did the development process go? Were they happy with the results? Did the project stay on budget? Would they hire the designer again?
If you hear all the right answers, the final step is to hire the designer.