If the time has come for you to create or redesign your website then you’re likely considering hiring an outside partner, like a web design agency, to help you.
Your website is often referred to as the storefront of your brand. After all, a website is often the first meaningful interaction a potential customer has with you. How you present your company on your website can literally be the difference between making a sale and losing a lead. A well-designed website should bring perfect alignment between your brand identity and business goals all the while driving leads into your sales funnel.
This makes searching for and selecting the right web design agency extremely critical as you seek to better represent your brand to the world.
Here are the top questions you should ask a web design agency as you consider hiring them for a new or redesigned website.
Will you review or audit my existing website?
If you already have a website, we recommend asking your potential web design agency to review it. This allows you to get valuable insights into their creativity, technical knowledge, and even their degree of professionalism.
At Swyft, for instance, we offer a free website audit that analyzes your website for potential warnings or errors that negatively impact your website, highlight areas to improve SEO, and dig into your lead generation tactics and design aesthetics.
Are you building a custom website or will you be customizing a theme/template on a content management system (CMS)?
Asking this question will help you determine the budget of your new website. If the answer to this question is a fully customized website designed and coded from scratch then it’s likely this website will cost on the high-end of the price range. If, however, you don’t have the budget for a fully customized website — or the time it takes to develop one — then it’s smart to look for a web design agency capable of customizing themes on a CMS platform like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or Joomla.
In the case of Swyft, our web design team takes a hybrid approach to website design. We prefer building websites on WordPress using Divi, a visual page builder. Divi is a web design tool that allows us to take a customizable approach to building websites tailored to a brand’s identity and business goals. Hence, we take advantage of the benefits of WordPress — open source, scalable, universal — while avoiding cookie-cutter designs that lack creativity.
Will it work on mobile devices, tablets, and multiple browsers?
As mobile devices and smaller screens have become the norm in the past five years, your website must adapt to fit the size of the device the user is on. In web design we call this responsive design. Mobile friendly websites became even more critical at the beginning of 2019 when Google switched its algorithms to focus on mobile first indexing, meaning websites that are responsive to mobile devices or have a mobile version get ranked higher than those that do not cater to mobile viewers.
What do you need from me to get started?
This is an important question that often gets overlooked. Why? Because getting a website design project over the finish line takes a lot more time and effort than the signing of an agreement.
Here are just some of the things a web design agency will need from you before they get started:
- An outline or list of the pages you would like to include on your website. This will help the web design agency create a sitemap of your new website.
- Your logo and any company-branded design elements and images (preferably as an editable vector image or a high-resolution image).
- A couple of websites to share that show what you’re looking for.
- Requirements you have of your new website such as forms, pop-ups, chatbots, unique graphics, storefront, video, and more. This should be provided before an agreement is signed so an agency knows how to quote your project properly.
Who will be handling content creation?
Some web designers or agencies might solely focus on the actual aesthetics and development of a website so it’s important that you know firsthand who is responsible for providing website copy. You should decide this early on as it’s important for a web design agency to know what messaging should be placed most prominently versus what is of secondary importance. This impacts everything from above-the-fold messaging to information about what the company offers and how to get in touch.
Swyft often takes on the website copy on behalf of our customers because we have several experienced tech copywriters on staff. After an initial sitemap has been decided upon between both parties, our copywriters work with customers to develop a brand voice consistent with any brand guidelines or brand personality provided. Along the way, we ensure web copy has the kind of content and keywords optimized for the search engines to improve organic search rankings.
Do you offer SEO services?
It’s commonly known by now that websites have to be optimized in order to rank favorably on search engines. This is known as search engine optimization and includes everything from on-page optimization (meta tags, site structure, correct HTML, and content) to off-page optimization (link building and content marketing.) At the very least, your potential web design agency will need to be able to structure and code your website properly so that search engines can crawl and understand your website in order to rank it.
Fortunately many agencies, just like Swyft, offer SEO services as a separate package in order to develop and implement an SEO strategy that helps you attain your search engine ranking goals.
How will my new website help me generate leads?
If you are a B2B tech company looking to improve lead generation then a well-designed and optimized website is central to driving and converting inbound leads. A website optimized for lead conversion includes properly placed and worded calls-to-action, lead forms or popups, newsletter signups, chatbots, SEO, and more.
Additionally, your digital marketing strategy can be boosted through a variety of other tactics like paid search, inbound marketing, and consistent content creation. If boosting brand visibility and leads is something you’re hoping to achieve, find an agency that will be able to help you with digital marketing after you go-live with your new website. Make sure they demonstrate –through case studies, success stories and testimonials– how they have designed and implemented an effective sales-funnel strategy.
Who will I be working with?
Many web design agencies have different structures within their organization. You might work with a team of two to three people or you might have a whole group of people designing your website. Whatever the case, you should have one agency liaison so you can always know where the website project stands, who to send information to, and so on.
For instance, our typical team structure at Swyft includes, at a minimum, a partner in charge, a project manager, a digital marketing manager, a website developer, a lead designer, and a senior copywriter.
Who will train me how to use my website?
After your website is done and launched you’re eventually going to want to make updates to keep the technology functioning optimally. While this might seem like an overwhelming (or even scary!) proposition, your web design agency can teach you everything you need to know about how to keep WordPress and its plug-ins up to date, not to mention how to modify content, pictures, links, and more.
At our Austin based web design agency, before we go-live with a new website, we train our clients on how to make basic text and picture changes. When a client lacks the in-house talent to handle managing a website, we do provide an on-going monthly maintenance package.
Do you provide maintenance packages? Can I contact you for future updates to my design?
Much like buying a new car, a website needs to be maintained to function optimally. Properly maintaining a website is critical for SEO, helps keep it running smoothly (e.g., efficient load times, working links, etc.), and can even help prevent hackers or bugs from destroying it.
For companies without any internal web development resources, outsourcing routine maintenance can make a lot of sense. Say you have a big design or development change that you can’t handle yourself, such as swapping out videos or adding a new form, then you may want an agency to step in and take things over. This is where an additional package of hours dedicated to website maintenance and design updates becomes a great alternative to hiring somebody full-time.
Swyft’s package of hours includes bi-weekly WordPress plugin updates, a monthly site audit including over 120 on-page and technical SEO checks, and any additional updates to the design of your website.
Remember, your website is that all-important first impression prospects get of your brand and product offers. Take your time, vet the agency well, and do your research. In the end, you will have a much better experience and will likely see a higher ROI on the website.