Choosing the best website designer for your company can be a really confusing and laborious process. Faced with so many different opinions and prices, and so much technical gobbledygook along the way, how on earth are you expected to make any sense of it?

Absolutely anyone can set themselves up as a website designer. The industry isn’t regulated, so there are no official guidelines to be adhered to, and no set qualifications. So we’ve put together this brief, but informative insider’s guide to web design companies, in the hope that it will enable you to find the best website designer for your needs.

There are three basic business models a web designer can follow:

  • Budget website design
  • Professional website company
  • Website agency (or marketing agency).

The budget website designer

Basic definition: Typically one person producing websites, with limited experience, often from their own home. Very often these businesses are quite new and working to establish themselves.

You can get some very talented designers at a very low cost in this sector, but it’s not always easy to find them, as there are so many ‘wannabe’ designers in this sector, making out they are something they are not and very often talking unsuspecting business owners into a very low-quality websites. So be careful.

Budget web designers tend to build websites quite quickly in order to earn a living and keep the price down, they often achieve this by building on pre-designed templates or subbing the design and build out to a designer in another country with low labour rates. There’s not usually enough in the budget to spend much time with the client before, during and especially after the website build, which can be a missed opportunity to tailor the website to the client and sector.

Their websites can still look very pretty on the front end and the price is often very low, which may suit a start-up or a low budget business. There’s not much going on behind the scenes with these sites so they’re not the best choice if you’re looking to compete and win business online.

If you have no choice than to be tight on budget then this may be the place for you. But you really do get what you pay for so don’t be too disappointed with the result or service you receive. If you’re expecting high results you should be in one of the other two sectors listed below.

Professional website companies

Basic definition: Typically a small group of designers based in an office or studio, producing mid to high priced and quality websites.

A website company is where the majority of people will start their search for a new website, and it’s possible to hunt out some very reasonably-priced, high-quality web designers.  But thanks to the sheer numbers of people hoping to bag themselves a bargain, there are also plenty of unscrupulous so-called designers in this sector too.  It’s not too difficult to set yourself up in a posh studio and talk the talk, but there are designers who have very little interest in you, or your business, but are only in it for the money.

That’s why it’s important to be very vigilant when approaching this sector of the market.  Make a point of visiting the studio, and ask to see some of the websites currently under construction in-house.  Ask question about the websites you are shown, to assess whether they are really are bespoke in-house builds, or subbed out elsewhere.  It’s worth asking to view their back catalogue too and talk you through some of the projects you pick out, this will give you a good feeling of their knowledge of the project and company. Look at the structure of the websites as well, as this will give you a feeling of whether they are all very similar and built from templates.

It’s also a good idea to get in touch with some of their previous customers, to see what their experience was, and how the after care service is shaping up.

There are, without doubt, some very good designers in this sector and it’s a good choice for many companies, but you’ll need to do your homework and hunt them out.  If you can, try to source a company with multi-disciplinary team, as this will give you the best results in terms of return on investment.

The website agency (or marketing agency)

Basic definition: An assembly of designers, coders, graphic designers and marketers, all under one roof. This is the serious end of marketing and website design and it comes with a much higher price tag. This end of the market is perfect for the more established company and marketing director as they demand and expect results and a high ROI.

Agencies are where the best minds in the industry aspire to be as they get to work on the most exciting projects and work with the best people and demand the highest salaries.

Agencies aren’t for everyone, if you only need a quick and simple website with basic search engine visibility then going to an agency can be a bit of an overkill. But if you like to be surrounded by the best experts in the industry, all lending a hand to help you achieve a lot of success then this is the place to start.

Even though agencies hire the top professionals, it still works better with a collaboration between the agency and you. They’re the brains for branding and marketing, but you’re the brains from your industry and your input is vital. You need to be involved from the outset, pushing the agency for even higher standards and results than even they are used to.  Don’t be afraid to call regular progress meetings, or to voice your opinion.  Top level designers and marketers love to be challenged, and they’ll respect you for doing so.

An inside secret – We suggest contracting your design agency to provide the first year’s marketing after the site goes live.  This way, it’s in their best interest to make sure they provide the best possible website for your marketing (but shhhh, don’t tell them we told you that!)

Conclusion

Like most industries there’s a mixture of good and bad companies out there, at every price level, so don’t rush your choice. Your online presence is vital for your success, so the trick is to do your homework first, rather than simply placing your trust – and your cash – in the hands of the first company you come across.  Your business deserves the best possible website for your available budget, so take your time when choosing the best website designer for your needs and spend as much as you possibly can to get the. Best people working on your project.

We hope this guide helps, we’ve tried not to be too biased but I admit that was pretty hard. But it’s in everyone’s interest to help you succeed, so please digest the information above and feel free to ask any further questions, by email:[email protected] or call us on 01455 561 561.