There are lots of companies around offering web design services

But how do you go about choosing between them? What makes one designer better than another? Part of the answer to these questions depends on what you want your website to do. Is it merely to showcase your business? Or do you need an e-commerce site to allow you to sell products directly online?

The first thing you need to do therefore is to look at work the company has done before. They should be happy to show you a portfolio of past work, so you need to be looking for designs they’ve done on sites with similar aims to your own – though not necessarily on those that actually compete with you, as you want your site to stand out. Talk to existing customers if you can too, or seek out independent reviews to see what the business is like to work with.

Teamwork

Remember that when you hire a development firm like www.rouge-media.com, you’re getting a team and not just a single developer. At the very least, there will be a graphic designer and a programmer, plus someone to take care of search optimisation and perhaps someone else to handle social media. On larger jobs there will probably also be project manager to oversee things and keep all of the other team members on track.

When you first contact a design company, you’ll probably deal with a sales person, but at some point you will need to speak to the creative team too. Make sure that you have regular meetings and discussions as the design progresses too. This will allow you to head off problems at an early stage and ensure that you get the site you want, not the one the designer wants to give you. That’s not to say you should ignore their advice and insist on things being done your way, but the project needs to be a two-way process.

Choosing a local company may be to your advantage – not only from a support point of view, because it’s easier to arrange face-to-face meetings, but because they should have knowledge of the area, competing companies and the local market.

The size of the company matters too. A smaller team is likely to be more responsive, and you’re less likely to be passed on to someone else part way through the project.

Service

As well as the skills a company has in designing your site, you also need to look at how it will be supported in the long term. Once the site goes live, contact with the real world may throw up problems that testing didn’t show. You therefore need to be able to call on the design company to make amendments. It’s also important that these things are done in a timely manner, so make sure this is built into the contract.

You also need to think about the things surrounding the website itself and whether they are included in the contract. We’re talking here about social media presence – links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. These are an increasingly vital part of building an online brand.

If you’re creating an e-commerce site, it will need to be constantly updated with new products, changed prices, etc. You won’t want to be going back to the design company each time this is required, so make sure you receive training and documentation to allow you to carry out ongoing modifications.

Price and Quality

As we said at the start, your website is a showcase for your business. It therefore needs to reflect your image. While some designers will offer a low-priced, template-based design, this is likely to involve a degree of compromise in terms of how much you can customise it.

If you want a site that’s truly unique to your business, it’s worth spending a bit more to get a design that is specifically made for you. Customers are going to judge you by the quality of your site, so it’s worth getting something that stands out from the competition. This is partly about your business too: if you’re selling luxury products or professional services, your website needs to look very different from one belonging to a discount store or a transport company.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, the cheapest design is not necessarily the best option. You have to consider the image of your business. A good web design company should be able to work with you to provide a good site at a reasonable cost.