These days, anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can build a website. The question is, what kind of website will you get? Will your new website function well and be able to expand as your company grows? Your website is often the first impression that clients have of your business, so you need a professional web design agency—not some guy who pirated a copy of Dreamweaver with a stack of business cards using a VistaPrint template.
There are a few things which you need to check before signing a contract and handing over a deposit—especially if you are building an eCommerce site. Below are some of the key points to check before deciding which design agency to use.
Check the agency’s design portfolio.
Whenever you’re choosing a web design company, make sure you check that they have actually worked on similar projects in the past. You don’t want to be an inexperienced designers “guinea pig.” It’s a situation that too often leads to disappointing results, unfinished sites or incomplete projects.
Choosing a web design agency with the right experience is especially important when you’re looking for an eCommerce provider. Don’t fall into the trap of using a “design” agency when what you really need is a development company. eCommerce sites are very technology-heavy with complex coding and specialized systems, so you need an agency that understands the potential problems that come with this type of site.
To avoid hiring a designer to do a developer’s job, check an agencies portfolio to ensure it has many examples of functional/tech-heavy websites and not just logos, flyers and print design.
Ask whether the web design agency will be building a website or customizing a template.
When choosing a web company, be sure to check whether they build from scratch or customize templates. There is a big price difference! Cheaper solutions usually use free, out of the box software packages and design templates in order to allow them to quickly create a site. More expensive design bids are usually from companies offering custom software designed exclusively for your needs. Neither solution is “right” or “wrong.” It will depend entirely on your needs, but you definitely want to know what you are buying. You don’t want to end up paying for custom when what you’re really getting is customization.
Check that the design agency is big enough to cope with the work.
Find out if the company has a technical team or is a one-man shop. Many web ‘companies’ actually only consist of one designer and one developer. Over the years there have been many scenarios where the only technical contact at the company has left leaving all clients stranded. The other reason to know the true size of the staff is to ensure that your website will be built by the designer and not sent out to someone else.
Check that the design work is carried out in-house rather than outsourced.
Be wary of a false sales pitch with nothing to back it up. There are lots of ‘middle men’ in this industry and agencies who can outsource the entire project. Don’t fall for a slick PowerPoint presentation! Make sure you meet members of the team and if possible go visit your developer’s office to see exactly who you are commissioning to do your project. Quite often those who outsource a project overseas will be reluctant for you to visit their office and meet the team.
Although there are many pitfalls when choosing a company to build you an eCommerce website, if you get it right then the benefits are great. Making the right choice can lead to success, low overheads and a website to be proud of. So when choosing which company to use, remember the checklist above and ensure that you ‘do it once – do it right’.
Visualsoft UK are the North East’s leading eCommerce website specialists. Check out their portfolio of over 300 websites they have built already on their website at www.visualsoft.co.uk