Inbound Marketing | 6 min read

How to Choose a Web Design Company

Posted By
Emily Buchan

Look at any website for 50 milliseconds. That's the blink of an eye. What do you see? You can't really see anything in that short amount of time. You can't read snazzy headlines or absorb any detailed information.

But a recent study found that 50 milliseconds, or .05 seconds, is all it takes for a user to form an impression about your website and 94% of that impression is design-related.

It's not hard to see why the design of your site is so important.

For web-based companies with complex sites and databases, it may be as easy as heading over to your design department to do a refresh. But most companies don't have the resources or the need to employ a full-time web designer. That's when they turn to Grand Rapids web design companies.

But your site is an integral part of your business and revenue. In 2011 alone, $1.1 trillion in retail sales were influenced by the web and there's no reason to think that number has decreased. So how do you choose a web design company that can bring your site to life and bring new customers along with it? Read on to find out.

Designer, Design Thyself

Even if you personally can't tell the difference between JavaScript and a Macchiato, chances are you know what a good website looks like.

Before you hire a web design company, visit their site. Does it look polished, professional, and modern? Or does it look like it was built 10 years ago and never updated? You shouldn't expect a design company to do any better for you than they do for themselves.

Your Crowd is the Source

Just because you know what a good website looks like doesn't mean that all good websites look the same. The right web design company for you is one that will create a design that speaks to your specific audience. The web is not a one-size-fits-all medium. If you run into a company that doesn't ask you about your target audience, feel free to run in the opposite direction.

Activate Optimization

Search Engine Optimization should be a key component to any digital marketing strategy. A good web design company knows that SEO has to be built in from the start. A site that flows together well is easier for users, and for search engines. If your web design company doesn't mention SEO or seems confounded by the idea that SEO and web design must go hand-in-hand, it might be time to let go of them.

Leaders in Leads

A good website works for you, even when you're not around to monitor it. For most companies, this means generating leads at all hours. The right web design company will be able to explain to you the best way to generate and nurture new leads, using just your website and its analytics. No mention of lead generation should be a red flag if you want a website that does more than look pretty.

Haste Makes Waste, Speed Means Leads

Your website should look good. It should look professional. It should communicate your brand visually and with compelling copy.

But your visitors will never get far enough to know what you're trying to say if your site loads too slowly. According to a study from Akamai Technologies and Forrester Consulting, 47% of people expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds and 40% will abandon the site if it takes more than 3 seconds. The right web design company will be cognizant of these issues and work to make a site that is beautiful as well as fast.

There's Something About Mobile

Mobile is no longer the future. Mobile it the now. A ComScore study on internet usage suggests that by the end of 2014, the number mobile web users will surpass desktop users. And 85% of these users believe that a company's mobile site should be just as good as their desktop site.

That means that any good web design company will need to include a mobile strategy in their design. Many companies use responsive design to accomplish this feat, so that no matter what the size of the device being used, the site will fit beautifully and work exactly the same way. If you talk to a Grand Rapids web design company that doesn't have a plan for mobile optimization, talk to someone else.

Share the Reins

The best web design companies will work with you to create the site that makes the most sense for your company and your target market, whether that means redesigning your current site or building one from scratch.

But the best companies will also know when they need to let you take control. You should ultimately have the ability to add content and make the spur-of-the-moment changes that make the web such an exciting place. No web design company should ever refuse to share passwords or otherwise hold your company's information hostage. The web is about collaboration and your web design company needs to be able to share. If they're not, send them back to kindergarten.

Reporting for Duty

Great web design can be a significant (but worthwhile!) investment. But like any good business owner, you want to know what you're getting for that investment. Your web design company should be able to eagerly and regularly provide you with reports that show you how your website is working for you. They should be able to compare your analytics from your old site (if you had one) and your new one and show where things have improved. If they can't do this - if they don't want to do this - or if things aren't improving, it might be time to move on.

Choosing any outside company to work for you can be stressful, especially when you're handing over control of something as important as your web site. Luckily, you already ahead of the game because you're doing research.

As a full-service digital marketing and design company,
Grand Rapids web design company ManoByte can cover all these key bases and more. Contact us today for a free web design consultation.