Awesome website designersIf you are looking for the best website design companies in the business, how will you know when you have found one?  What are the common traits?

We’ve been in the web design industry a long time and we’ve identified 9 traits that we want to see in our own business.  These are our own internal goals and these are things you should look for when shopping for web designers.

9 Traits Of The Best Website Design Companies

  1. Thick Glasses & Awesome Sweaters.  Now on to #2 . . .
  2. Set Deadlines – One question you should ask and most web designers will not want to give you a firm answer on is “When will my website be finished?”  We pointed out in How Long Does It Take To Make A Website that the answers, if they are even given, are all over the board and very few are specific enough to be meaningful.  What the average web designer will give you is a very rough estimate.  The project can turn into a nightmare-ishly long process in which everybody involved becomes frustrated.  That’s one of the reasons we developed One Week Website.  Both sides need real deadlines to get the job done efficiently and well.
  3. Meet Deadlines – It’s great to set deadlines, but what happens if they are not met?  Did you know that contractors in the construction business actually have monetary incentives to meet deadlines?  We approach web design in the same way.  If we don’t meet a deadline in our One Week Website process, you don’t pay as much.  Yes, we’re serious.  Make sure your web design company sets deadlines and ask them what happens if they don’t meet them.

  1. Have A Process – You want your web designer to be a creative person.  An artistic eye is a good thing in the graphic arts profession.  But if there is not a good process in place to manage the project, you are in for some headaches.  We have refined the process of client interaction and project development so that our creative designers have the freedom to create with all of the right information in hand.  We have long check-lists for the entire process so that we don’t miss things like allowing search engines to index your site at launch, setting up analytics tracking, and adding that favicon.  We use a Website Design Questionnaire at the beginning of the process and Basecamp to manage the project.  Having done this many times before, our team will walk you through it every step of the way.
  2. Variety In Portfolio – Good web designers tend to be creative folks who like to stretch the boundaries occasionally.  If the portfolio looks vanilla, you have one of two things.  You have designers who are not very creative or you have creative designers who are frustrated by their lack of ability to create.  Neither of those things are good.  A good web designer will work with a variety of clients and the portfolio will look varied.  This means the designer is listening to what the client wants and needs and occasionally even break web design trends and “rules” to help the client reach their own goals.
  3. Strong References/Testimonials – If you are looking for an established web design “company” (as opposed to an individual) that means you are looking for a guaranteed good outcome.  You can always roll the dice with a brand new designer, but who knows what the end product will be.  A strong web design company, on the other hand, will have a long list of testimonials from their past clients.  This will give you the confidence that you can expect the same good outcome for your business.
  4. Good Blog – Great web designers like what they do.  And they know that the best way to share that enthusiasm and drive for success is an updated blog.  If you run across a web design company with no blog, or a static blog, you may be looking at a designer whose career is stagnant.
  5. Offer Maintenance – Give some thought to how you will update your site after launch. Will you have access to the Content Management System (see the next point)?  Is the company you are going to work with going to be around two years down the road to maintain the site?  Your site WILL need to be updated.  Make sure your designer offers some type of ongoing maintenance.
  6. Build On A Good CMS – You may run across a designer who meets the above requirements, but builds on some obscure system that nobody but that person knows how to maintain.  When it comes time to make a change to the site or add content that person may charge you out the wazoo or you may have to pay some other coder out the wazoo to get in and help.  That’s a problem.  We highly recommend you find a designer who builds on the WordPress Content Management System (CMS).  WordPress is the easiest platform for the end-user to edit and is the most widely used website building platform in existence.  That means you can make updates yourself or you will have lots of options to have others come in and help for a reasonable price.

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