Just as leaves fall in the winter, professional web design companies seem to crop up whenever there is an economic downturn. It seems that just about everyone thinks that he or she can design a website. But designing a website takes skills and knowledge. The firm has to know what features attract visitors to a website, as well as those that make people want to stay, engage in the conversation and buy the product or service being offered.

Choosing the right web design company

Unfortunately, selecting a professional web design firm is not an easy task. There is no specific degree or certification a person must have to open a web design shop. So how do you know if you are choosing the right company? We suggest that you consider the following five factors when making your decision.

1. Respect for Your Ideas

You likely have an idea of what you’d like your website to look like – what you believe will speak to your customers. Some web design companies will try to sway you from your vision simply because other designs are easier for them to create. Just like when you go to a doctor or lawyer, listen to what they have to say. But TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Don’t let them move you in a direction which you find uncomfortable. Remember, they will be working for you.

2. Experience

Many people can design a website that is composed of basic text and static graphics. But if you want a website with a lot of video, complex or interactive features, experience will be key. In general, the more experience the web design firm has, the more creative it can be without compromising usability.

3. Previous Work

Take a good look at the web design firm’s previous work and ask yourself: Does it all look basically the same? Can you easily find what you are looking for within the sites? Do any of the web sites contain the features you would want on your site? Does the firm’s sites stand out from other sites on the web? Can you use a template to create a similar site on your own? Have they worked on websites in my industry before (A law firm website design is different than the design of a primary care website)? If you are not satisfied with the answers to any of these questions, you may want to consider another web design firm.

4. Cost

In some sense, you get what you pay for. The more work that goes into creating a site (such as videos, graphics, etc.), the more you should expect to pay. However, you should not expect to pay a great deal more to different companies for the same features. So shop around. As a rule of thumb, a standard WordPress website with 12-16 pages should cost, on average, between $4,000 and $6,000.

5. Timeline

Your website is your online storefront. Just as you wouldn’t want your actual store to be closed for a great deal of time, you don’t want your website to be offline either. A basic website can take a week to program; a complex one can take up to a month or more. There is little reason a standard marketing website should take more than a month to program unless the web design company is understaffed or working overcapacity. If the proposed timeline to complete your website is longer than you find reasonable, ask why. If you are not satisfied with the answer, you may want to look elsewhere.

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