How do I choose the best web design company?

In this series we have covered what a website should cost and why the costs very so much from company to company.  Now lets talk about how to choose the best web design company.  Not the best design company for you (I hate those articles that end with the same old "ultimately it is up to you" crapola), but flat out how to choose the best design company period.

The funny thing is that ultimately it really is not up to you to decide.

The best web design firm meets the following requirements every time no matter what you need or who you are:

  1. They ask what your goals are
    If they don't know what your goals are, how can the site they create meet them?  If you don't know what your website goals are, how will you know it is working?  And don't fall for traffic goals.  Its easy to get traffic and even easier to make an analytics report look amazing.  Ask yourself "why do I need a website" and go from there, then you will have an answer if they ask.  If they don't ask, don't write a check.
  2. They will not market for you
    Marketing is a specialty.  You need a good website so you can market, but you do not need good marketing for a good website if your goals don't include it.  If marketing is one of your goals find a marketing specialist that will market with the website that a website specialist built.  You wouldn't go to an OBGYN to get new contact lenses would you?
  3. They will not write your content
    Your content is the heart and soul of your website.  Unless you are a fortune 500 company, you probably don't have the budget to pay a copywriter what it would cost for content that is authoritative enough for your core site.  Don't let cut rate copy kill your site's effectiveness because it was written by someone who knows nothing about your company or your industry.
  4. They will not hold you hostage
    Your website should be your website.  Copyrights, proprietary code, long term contracts are all ways that web design firms hold their clients hostage.  You should want to stay with your web guys (see what i did there? ;), not be forced to.  If you can't take it with you, then don't write a check.
  5. They have a well defined process
    But not too well defined as I mentioned in the previous article.  I have seen design firms with 24 step processes to build a website.  My goodness, it is a website, not a rocket ship.  There needs to be a simple yet well defined process with deadlines in place.  The more complicated it is, the more likely they are trying to dazzle you with BS.

 

That's it!  Those are the things that the web design company you work with need to have in place.  Notice I did not mention anything about portfolio or design awards or testimonials or years in business or outsourced workers or any of the myriad other straw-man sales tactics you have read on other articles?  Did you also notice that we do have all those things at Your-Web-Guys, but I still don't mention them?

The reason why is because those and many other things are simply marketing ploys to get you to think stuff like "yeah, I need to ask for their references" so they can hand you a list of all the happiest customers they have.

Here's a quick list of those straw man sales tactics and why they don't mean a hill of beans in the great scheme of things:

  1. References:
    Do you really think they will give you a list of clients who have not had the very best experience?  Go through their portfolio online and randomly call some of the folks they have worked for... that'll give you a much better idea of who they really are.
  2. Award Winning Design:
    Do you really think that your site is going to win an award and would you want it to anyway?  Your site needs to meet your goals.  Unless an award on your wall is a goal then who cares?
  3. All American Workforce:
    Do you really think that they shouldn't use overseas workers if they are high quality talent at rock bottom prices so they can pass the savings on to you?  Lets face it, code is code whether you speak English as your first language or not.  This does become an issue if you cant communicate with their people, but other than that, the more low cost labor the lower your costs in general.
  4. Been in business since Al Gore created the Internet:
    Have you ever actually checked the registration date of a business to verify that they really have been in business for x number of years?  Stability is important, but just cuz they say they have been around forever doesnt mean its true and also doesnt mean they wont close tomorrow.  Look instead for how much skin they have in the game... do they have an office you can walk into, do they own their own servers, is the team big enough to take care of your needs?

 

Remember, this is the WWW; the wild wild west.  There are no rules, there is no law, there is only buyer beware.  So don't fall for the distractions.  Don't let the magician swap the coin on the table while he jingles keys in his other hand.  Focus on the things you know you need and keep the project specific to meet your needs.  Everything else is just fluff that will either cost you money or cause you heartache.

Obviously we here at Your-Web-Guys think that the answer to the question of this article is a resounding "US!" - we like the way we do things and so do our hundreds of clients.  If you would like us to be your-web-guys too, just drop us a line.

And to answer the original question of what should you pay for a website?  Of course every project is different, but most of our clients wind up with an initial setup fee between $2000 and $3000* which includes everything they need to be online.  We think that is a good price to pay for a website so you get the customer service and the well defined process that we discussed earlier.

Update!

After posting this I realized I also didn't mention the no-brainer kind of requirements.  My job is to give you new information here, not rehash the same thing everyone else has talked about.  But just to make sure, obviously you want:

  • up front pricing
  • ongoing support and hosting
  • an actual office with actual people in it
  • a responsive design
  • a content management system
  • on site SEO
  • and a slew of other things

 

If you don't know what one or more of those are talking about, contact me and I will be happy to give you the lowdown.

* Prices are what the current average is at the time this article was written and are subject to change at any time.  For a quote with actual prices for your project please contact Your-Web-Guys for a consultation.

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Very good first impression followed by a clean site and helpful support. Richard continues to be informative and adaptive to our wants and to tend to our needs. I believe in the weeks to follow we’ll meet our goals, then exceed them.

When the site crashed this afternoon (as all websites occasionally do), my phone call was answered outside regular business hours. They were already aware of the problem and were working on it. The site was down for a little over half an hour– not a bad response time imo.

And it has nothing to do with their competence or professionalism, but their office building is very zen

I have worked with several different web design companies just because of the line of work I am in, I can say without a doubt that YourWebGuys is the best! I have been working with them now for well over a year and have never second guessed their ideas, motive for the betterment of the company I work for, nor their pricing!

If I call Richard, he answers directly. And if I do have to leave a message, I get a callback within the day. An email sent to support is answered within hours!

I have learned so much from his team, and look forward to working with them for many more years.

When the Mansfield ISD Education Foundation needed a fast turn-around and professional service Your-Web-Guys delivered!! Your-Web-Guys helped our foundation design and launch a new and creative way for our parents and community to help us fund more terrific projects and get much needed resources into our classrooms to benefit children! This dynamic addition to our website seemed imposssible at first, but Your-Web-Guys made it a reality and now anyone in our community or the world can donate or contribute towards our innovative teaching grants. We agree that there are many other website design companies out there but we strongly recommend Your-Web-Guys for your website design and implementation.

I have found Your-Web-Guys to be professional, creative and very, very accessible when it comes to making sure my website is functioning just as it should. I strongly recommend this company for your website design and implementation.

There are many other website design companies out there and they promise a lot. But after talking with some of them I understood that their objectives did not include taking care of, or focusing on, small business. In contrast to that, I’ve found Your-Web-Guys to be geared to work with small and growing businesses

Ed Harrison

We needed a bold, effective and usable web page that attracted the customers we were seeking for our wedding and events venue. The process was easy and flexible and Your-Web-Guys was outstanding.

They were very knowledgeable and extremely patient. We have used web designers in the past, but Your-Web-Guys will be our designers from now on. And the page was done ON TIME!

Your-Web-Guys carefully listened to our corporation representatives as we discussed every element that we needed to incorporate into a web site. We had used other web designers, but none ever addressed future as well as present needs.

Your-Web-Guys accomplished a very successful design and we were VERY pleased with our experience and the end result.

Love Story Corporation