How to Choose Between a Web Design Company & Website Builders

What valuable tips should you know before choosing?

You have a very important business and with today’s online world, you need a website. By now you’ve heard a lot of different options to obtain one of these so called ‘sites’. So let’s talk about the over arching options: building a website by yourself or paying a web developer to do it for you. Both options have their own pros and cons.

Technical Difficulties - DIY
Technical Difficulties – DIY

I’ve witnessed firsthand the ease of building sites on an all in one platforms such as SquareSpace or Weebly and to be honest, it’s pretty cheap and they look really pretty. At first it seems like a great option, and for some that remains true, but if you ever want to change anything, well good luck. Deferring from the original template even just to change a simple button color can be a hellish nightmare. That’s because these platforms weren’t meant for change.

Okay so maybe change isn’t a huge problem for you. Let’s talk about your unique business instead. You do something that no one else does in a way that no one else can, right? So why does your website look the same as everyone else’s out there? Probably because you’ve used a template that you either don’t know how to manipulate to your own look or one that can’t deviate much from its original design.

Again, a lot of these templates look aesthetically pleasing but boy does it ever get boring seeing the same theme from one website to the next. If you want to add a unique spin and interesting functionality to your site you’ll need something more than a DIY platform.

What you’ll need is a web design and development company that actually knows what they’re doing. Web design companies are set up to create the best experience for both you and your customers. Whether you need an online store, a new app or just an informative space for your clients to learn more about your business, web design companies can strategize to meet these needs.

Okay so let’s say you’ve decided to avoid the mayhem of building a site yourself, what do you look for in a company? We’ve made a short list to help you with your search.

1. A real company. Yes, I know your cousin’s dorm-mate likes to fiddle around with computers in between her poli-sci classes but at the end of the day you need a real business relationship. You need someone you can be honest with and who won’t be offended by your straightforward critiques. Web companies will take your comments to heart and change the design to meet your needs. When problems arise sometimes family and friends aren’t the best option for resolution and no one really wants family gatherings to be more awkward than they already are.

2. An easily-editable site. If you want to make updates to your site without the need to continue hiring someone else to do this for you, you’re going to need a well designed site. You shouldn’t need to know how to code to edit your website, that’s why you hired a developer in the first place. One resource we like to use is Advanced Custom Fields, a plugin that allows our customers to easily edit their sites without breaking the layout or design in any way. This gives our customers the ability to change any content they want.

3. Customer service. When you meet with a web design company an important thing to be aware of is their ability to provide quality customer service. Are they going to be able to answer your questions thoroughly without sounding condescending? It’s very important to feel comfortable asking questions about subjects you know little about.

Keep in mind that customer service isn’t all about how well you get along with everyone at the company. You won’t always be there in person so making sure that someone is answering your phone calls and emails in a promptly manner is also key.

4. Responsive design. This should be common knowledge by now as people are spending more and more time on their phones. Websites are being viewed through smaller and smaller devices and the company you choose should know all about this. Not only should they know about it but they should be designing in a mobile first environment.

Starting on April 21, Google will actually be ranking websites that are mobile-friendly higher than websites that are not. This makes it incredibly important to make sure your site is ready for a mobile environment. If the company you are speaking with doesn’t make this a priority they aren’t the right company for you, or anyone else for that matter.

5. Project management. It is very important to make sure that there is a dedicated project manager in the office to see that your site will reach its deadline on budget. There is nothing worse than finding out a month after your site was supposed to be launched that you are now 25% over budget… Find a company that is well organized. This will benefit you in the long run more than you know.

We’ve tried working in an office environment without a PM before and let’s just say it wasn’t easy. After finding out the hard way, having a PM is now a permanent staffing requirement for us and this should be the case with any other company you work with.

Whether you decide to take charge of developing your own site or hiring a company to take care of those details yourself, make sure that you know exactly what your users need. The biggest mistake you could make is not listening to your customers. That’s all for now, good luck!

story written by Jacqui Janzen