Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Website Design Agency

There are lots of web design agencies out there, but how can you narrow this down to a few most suitable agencies? We’ve put together the top 10 key points to look for when choosing a new web design agency.

1. Check out the agency's track record
It’s important to always check the portfolio / case studies of the web design agencies you are considering. Do you recognise the company names? Do a Google search and check that the companies exist and have the same website that the agency designed. Do you like the website designs they have produced? Ask yourself: Are they user friendly designs? Do they represent the brand / company well? Would you use this website? Do they have experience of website design in your field? Do the website's meet their objectives?
Also, ask the web agency if they can send you references or testimonials from customers. And when you get these testimonials, make sure you check them out. Call the clients up and check that the testimonials are real.
Finally, ask how long the agency has been running. Age doesn't always matter, but it does help.

2. Availability - Ask about who would be looking after your account
Everyone has heard the stories of the ‘unavailable’ web design agency, so make sure you get a phone number not just an email address (and not a premium rate number either). Ask the design agency what the turnaround time is for responding to emails. Remember if you have urgent changes you need to be able to through to the design agency as quickly as possible.
At Alchemy not only do we have a great creative team to design your website, but we have a dedicated account management team. There is always someone on the other end of the phone who's up to speed about your website strategy who can give you a progress report and answer any queries you may have.

3. Find out how big the team is
You want your web design agency to be big enough to ensure that if your account manager is off sick or on holiday your business is not forgotten.
Do you prefer a larger, higher resourced agency or a smaller, more flexible agency? The general rule would be to find a web agency that reflects the size of tasks and projects you require. If you have 5000 employees but your actual marketing and development requirements are reasonably low, you are only likely to need an agency of 5-10 employees. If you have 100 employees, but you are heavily reliant on outsourced projects, a larger agency may be more suitable.
Ultimately, you need to find the right size company for your needs.

4. Age of agency
Age doesn't always matter, but in this industry it can be an important factor. The web has seen many changes in a relatively short space of time, if a website design agency has been in business for five or more years it have obviously been managed well. The internet has seen the boom and bust of many company's; those that live to tell the tale are obviously being run well.

5. Are the staff approachable and professional?
It's important that you connect with the people managing your account. The best results will be created when you create a partnership with your web agency.
Do they provide you with a generic quote of do they talk to you to find out more about your business? Do they use a lot of jargon or explain things clearly? Have they taken the time to tailor their offerings to you? Are there suggestions relevant and suitable for your business? Far too often, company's try to sell you products that you don't need.
Ask if your website will be used in the portfolio on the web design agency's site? At Alchemy we ask all our clients if we can add their website to our design portfolio.

6. Check out the agency's terms and conditions
This is quite important and helps avoid problems further down the line. Ask questions such as:
• Are there any hidden costs, like set up fees or holding fees?
• Can you make staged payments for your web project?
• Are updates and maintenance included in the website design fees?
• Are bug fixes charged for?
• Will you get a copy of the source files?
• Who owns the source code?
• Are the files back-up?
At Alchemy we believe you should be able to see exactly what it is you are getting when you commence your project. That’s why all or costs are itemised and we give our clients the source files to their websites.

7. Capabilities
Find out what the capabilities of the agency are. Often, it's helpful to get the CV's of all staff employed. Quite often, agencies will have a bias of some kind. The best agencies will have a balance of online marketing, development and creative.
If you have specific requirements - make a list and ask the agency what their proficiency is in the specific skills.

8. Do they outsource their work?
Check to see if your project will be developed in house or if it will be outsourced. Ask to meet the design or technical team. If work is going to be outsourced, find out where, are you able to contact the team? There are many cases of company's who have an account management team, and an outsourced development team. The problem with this scenario is the quality of the work produced. Does the account management team check the back end code? Does it meet current guidelines and legal requirements?
At Alchemy we will provide you with a dedicated product team who will look after all your needs. You can meet everyone who will be working on your project, so you can be assured they understand the needs of your web project. We complete all our work in house and have tight quality control regulations so you can be assured of top quality website design, development and online marketing.

9. Do they provide balanced approach to online marketing as well as web design?
What other services to the web design agency offer? Do they have experience of search engine marketing? Will they build the site to maximise search engine performance? Have they done online marketing before?

Alchemy have been running search engine marketing and online marketing campaigns since the company was founded in 1998. We are familiar with all the tried and tested techniques and are at the cutting edge of new trends.

10. Is their work coded to the best coding standards?
Does the site meet the W3C guidelines? What browsers does the web agency test their work in?
It’s important that you’re site be developed to the best possible standard, best practice is to ensure all sites are DDA compliant and built to W3C guidelines, meaning your site will be accessible to all.
Gone are the days of one browser, there are now a plethora of internet browsers available, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Fire Fox, and Safari. It’s important to ensure your site can be viewed properly in all of these browsers.

At Alchemy we ensure all of the websites we build are DDA compliant and we offer cross browsers support, so the way you see your site is the way your users will see it, regardless of the browser they are using.

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