Key things to consider when selecting a web designer

Selecting the right people to create and manage your website is one of the tougher marketing decisions a business needs to make – and remake every few years.

Most of your clients will go through your website at some stage, so getting this right can be critical to your businesses success. However, identifying the right web designer can be very difficult for business owners.

Do your research and look around

The first and most crucial thing is to always look around at your options. Web designers live and die (professionally at least) by what happens on the internet so judging them on their own website and web presence is usual a fair place to start. It can also be worth contacting your “top picks” to see what they’d propose for your new site. Ask questions, but always be wary of anyone who promises you too much -

Local vs. Remote Agencies

This can be a tricky one as there’s likely good developers in your city and in other major cities. In my experience though, local developers will understand your customers better as they’re already a part of that community - so local gets my vote here.

How big is the agency/developer?

Freelance developers can be cheaper but are also more likely to “move on to other things” and leave you stuck without website support. Many of the companies that we work with have stories of working with a dodgy developer who left them high and dry. This isn’t exclusive to small developers and cheap development companies often come with similar the exact same issue. The best rule of thumb is: the smaller and cheaper the company, the more likely you are to hit issues.

What’s important in a new website?

Content Is King

On the web, content is king, and this really should be front of mind for your web designer. Who’s going to listen if what you’re saying is hard to read or confusing? No one.

Most people only spend a few minutes looking at each website, so your information needs to be appealing, well-structured and focused. At Clear Pixel we work with our clients to create and structure content for their site. Some agencies have dedicated content writers for you to work with and others will structure content as they piece the site together.

Functionality is next on the priority list

After content, the next most important thing is functionality. Your website should be easy to navigate so that visitors can find what they’re looking for. It needs to work on mobiles and the menu should be short enough for people to find what they’re looking for. You wouldn’t stumble your way through a site that’s hard to navigate, so you shouldn’t expect potential customers to.

Visual Aesthetic is where everything comes together

Visual design is the third most important aspect of a website. Once you’ve got great content and a website that works as it should, then it’s important to get the right visual aesthetic to bring everything together. You’re a great company and your website should sell that to your visitors.

A website that doesn’t reflect your branding can be very jarring for visitors and an ugly site can send visitors in the other direction at an alarming pace. Luckily most web designers either have a graphic design skill set, or work with graphic designers to achieve the best results for you. At Clear Pixel, we do both.

Why not all?

Marrying all three of these aspects of a site is where you’ll see the best results from your site, but if you need to focus your budget, then content should be your priority. Don’t neglect the other two completely, but I’d suggest putting more weighting on your content. If you’re not sure how the agency prioritizes each of these areas, then just ask. Most will be happy to discuss their process, but if they’re not then this should be treated as a red flag.

How do I tell if a designer has the right priorities?

This is where things can get tricky, but the best first step would be to look at their portfolio. Good agencies almost always have one, so why not look at what they’ve done?

Most of the work an agency does won’t make it to their website portfolio - there would just be too much information to filter through. I’d suggest looking out for any sites in similar industries but if you can’t find any on either site, then it is worth asking the agency. Most of us are happy to provide a few extra examples for you to look at.

While going through these, consider how easy each site is to use and what it’s saying. Ask yourself “Are these sites that I would want to look at?”. Sites that have a strong, well presented message are a good sign that the agency is doing the right thing.

Ongoing Strategy

On average, websites have a life span of about 4 years which makes it surprising to me that most people aren’t planning beyond their new site going live. A lot of people believe they can have a new agency update their website if it doesn't work out with their current agency, but this is often harder than it seems so I’d strongly recommend discussing an ongoing plan with each agency and see what they can offer you in this area.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot of options out there for web designers these days and picking the right agency is one of the most important marketing decisions that most business owners will make. So, consider what each agency offers and the work they’ve done previously. Ask questions about their process and priorities and check that they match what you’re expecting out of your new site.

Quick Recap

  • Do your research and find out what options are out there
  • Whilst remote and local are options, local designers will likely have a better understanding of your clientele
  • Bigger developers might cost a little bit more, but are less likely to leave you high and dry
  • Content is king. Functionality is the next on the priority list and then design, but marrying all three is where you’ll get the best results
  • Look at each agencies portfolio and keep an eye out for sites that are in a similar industry to your own organisation
  • Websites have a lifespan of around 4 years, so work out what the agencies plan is moving forward
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