So you’re ready to hire a web designer?
There’s just one problem, where do you start?
It can be difficult searching for the right web design agency/freelancer to work with. There are thousands of companies out there. So how do you know who to choose?
Here are four ways you can find the right agency/freelancer for you, and what to look out for when you’re doing your research.
So let’s get started…
1. Ask friends and family
Do you know anyone who has had a website designed in the past? Ask them if they can recommend a web designer.
- Usually, your family and friends can be trusted to recommend good people. They have your back and so will only recommend designers who they feel have done a good job.
- The likelihood is, your friends and family might not know much about web design. Sure your cousin might think their friend is a great web designer, but do they know enough about the industry to provide a good recommendation?
- Asking friends and family is not the best option when looking for a web designer unless someone in your family is clued up on good design.
2. Google Search
This is probably the most common way people find a website designer. Head over to Google and type in “web design company” or “web design + your city”. You will be presented with pages of potential companies you can work with.
- You get to see what websites are performing well in search results. Just be mindful not to click on the paid advertising section at the top.
- You get to niche down to your industry, whether you want someone local ‘freelance web designer Cambridge’ or something specific ‘WordPress web design’.
- Just because a company is on the first page of Google does not make them the best web designer for you.
- You miss out on other companies outside of what you’ve searched for. For example, why focus solely on local web designers when there are others out there that could do wonders for your business?
Google search is a good research tool. You can find reviews, more about the company, links to their social media etc., but it’s not something we’d rely on to find a web designer.
3. Free Groups on Social Media
A lot of us are members of Facebook Groups that are related to our industries. Why not ask in there if anyone knows of any good website designers?
- The answers are from people in your industry, who know about business and have had experience with website design
You can see real-life examples by visiting their sites to see the quality of design
- Sometimes, people just recommend their friends or family rather than giving you unbiased recommendations
These threads can get overwhelming, sometimes with lots of recommendations!
Overall, this is a good starting point to finding a decent web design agency, but you’ll still need to undertake your own research following it.
4. Premium business communities
If you join a paid business community (we’re members of Content Marketing Academy and Andrew and Pete’s, Atomic), then it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations for website design.
- You’re getting recommendations from business people similar to you
- There’s less ‘selling’ than in Facebook groups, and you’re more likely to find helpful advice
- You have to pay to be a member. We wouldn’t recommend paying just to find recommendations for web designers, but it’s worth joining a group like this for business support and advice
We’d recommend using a few of these and then carrying out the necessary research on five-ten agencies/freelancers you’ve compiled.
However, your job is not done just yet.
This is only step one.
Our advice is to use the 4 steps above to gather a list of potential companies and then use the steps below to whittle them down even further.
So, once you’ve done your research and found some potential agencies to work with, what should you do to find out if they’re good enough?
Reviews and testimonials
Reviews are a good place to start when researching a company. Look at Google reviews, sites like FreeIndex and reviews on Facebook. Any decent company should have 90% good reviews or more. If they have bad reviews, look at how the company responded.
Every half-decent web designer should showcase their portfolio of work. Have a look through it. Often, their clients will have added things to the website like images, so if there are small things you don’t like, these are easy to discuss. If however, their designs are hideous then move on!
Look at their blog and YouTube channel. How active are they with their content marketing? Are they helpful? Do they appear to know their stuff? This can be a great way to judge how much a web designer can advise you through the process. If their content is merely about them, consider if they actually ‘get’ content marketing and whether you’d want to work with them.
If their content hasn’t been updated since 2015, move on!
How active are they on social media? Do they interact with people on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram? Do they post videos on YouTube? This is a good indicator as to how the company communicates. Do they just talk about themselves? Or are they also helpful? Do they promote others content? Do they start conversations?
And again, like the one above, if they haven’t updated their social media in a while, it’s time to move on!
Look at Who Works There
Research the people who work at the company. Find their social media accounts. Do they guest post elsewhere? Do they attend lots of training in their industry?
You might think that all this research is excessive, but what you’re really doing is looking at the ethos of the company. Do they look like they care? Are they passionate about what they do? Is it something they talk about and take pride in? You live and breathe your business, and your web designer should live and breathe their’s, right? Because that’s the only way, you’re going to land a company that cares about you and your success.
This might seem extensive, however, if you’re looking to invest thousands in a new website, it’s worth doing some proper research first. You don’t want to dive straight in only to regret it later on.
How did you find a suitable website design agency? Do you think there’s anything I’ve missed off? Let me know in the comments below…
Web designer & marketer for small businesses. Martin is an experienced search engine and web design specialist, with over a decade of experience working with large corporations to small businesses.