How to Choose a Web Design Company? Part 3

In Part 3 of our tutorial, How Should I Choose a Web Design Company? we look at how to go about Creating a Short List of Suitable Web Designers.

Creating a Short List of Suitable Web Designers

Before contacting any web designers, study their personal or company portfolios of previous projects. Do any of these projects meet all or most of the outcomes detailed in the Essential and Required columns of your checklist*?  If so, it shows that they have worked on similar projects. However, before shortlisting them check if their portfolio of sites includes misspelt words, broken links or over pixilated images. If they do, then discount them and move onto the next.

As you are going through your list of possible designers make a note of the different layouts, techniques and styles that you like from each one. Also, make a note of the contact details from a couple of their client's sites.

Once you have an initial shortlist, see if there is any way to contact their clients to assess how well they got on with them during the project. Check to find out whether they:

  • Followed the design brief/specification?
  • Stuck to the timetable?
  • Were easy were they to get hold of?
  • Were knowledgeable about their profession?
  • Suggested any improvements/alternatives and, if so, were these carried out as part of the original quote?
  • Were quick to respond to queries?
  • Has the project come in on budget?
  • Had any issues crop up during the project?  If they did have issues, ask what were these and how did the designer/developer address these? Projects rarely go through to completion without the odd hiccup, especially complex ones, so it is worthwhile taking some time to find out how responsive the designer/developer was to put things right. Customer satisfaction is key, especially as you are likely to have an ongoing relationship with the designer. Don't worry about the odd grumble though - there are always two sides to the story. It's when several issues arise of a similar nature affecting more than one customer that you need to start getting concerned and drop them from your shortlist.
  • Would use them again?

Also, check out the status and health of the company - if it's a limited company then you can look online at the Companies House website for free. Another useful source of free information used to be DueDil but this site now charges although you can sign up and get a free 7-day trial. However, you may also sometimes get a brief overview of the records they hold on a company by simply doing a Google search of the company you are looking at if the search return brings up DueDil.

* See Part 1 

This tutorial continues under Part 4 

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