Finding the right company to create your website can be a really difficult and daunting task. There are so many to choose from, and if you don't know a great deal about websites and website terminology (and why should you?) it can be very hard to differentiate between them. So we have laid out 9 steps to help you make the right choice. 

1. Know what you like 

You may think you know nothing about websites, or about how you want your website to look and feel. But you probably know a lot more than you realise. If you spend any time looking at websites, whether it's for business or personal use, there will no doubt be things that you like the look of, and features that make you want to stay on a site. There will also be those that make you leave the site, and go in search of a competitor's website. 
This is really useful in helping to make sure that your website is designed the way you want it to look, as it will allow both you and your website designer to be clear about the appearance you are looking for, for your site. 
So, before you make contact with any website companies, have a look at websites, both in your industry and in completely different ones. Make a note of the address of the websites that you like, and what it is that you like about them. Just as importantly, make a note of those that you don't like and what you don't like about them. You may find a website that has elements that you like, and also some that you don't like. It's all useful information, so make a note of it all. And don't worry if you don't know the name of a feature. For instance, if you like a website because the photos on the home page change and rotate, write that down. Don't worry about the 'official name' for that. It will also help you establish if a designer talks on your level. (More of that later!) 

2. Find some web designers 

The web design company you choose should be highly recommended, professional, reliable, and local to you. It is far easier to discuss your website requirements face-to-face than try to explain what you want purely by phone and email. 
The easiest, and most obvious way, to find website designers is to do a Google search for 'website designer in ...... (your local town). That is certainly one way to get a short list together. But also ask around other business owners for anyone that they know and would recommend. And if in step 1 you found any sites that you really liked, see if the name of the website creator appears on the site. 
Before you contact any companies that haven't been recommended to you, look on their Google my Business and Social Media accounts to see if there are any reviews from their existing clients. If you can't find positive comments for a company, or evidence of good websites that they have created, it is probably best to move to the next company on your list. 
When you have a short list of around five suitable looking web design companies, it's time to make contact. 

3. It's good to talk! 

Before taking the time to meet up with your potential web designer, you will need to establish whether this is a company that you could work with to build your new website. 
The easiest way to make contact with the companies on your list is by email or by completing the contact form on their website. But the best way of establishing whether you feel comfortable with a company is to pick up the phone and talk to them. 
Do they ask you questions, to help understand what you want from your website, or do they tell you what they are going to do? The company that creates your website needs to understand what you want your site to look like, and what you want it to do for your business. If they are already telling and not asking, can you be sure you are going to get the website you want, as opposed to a website they want you to have?  
Also, do they talk on your level? If you are fairly technical or have some experience of websites, you will probably understand 'jargon' and technical language. However if websites appear to be complicated and you don't understand the jargon, it will be a difficult experience trying to work with a company if they insist on using technical words. A good design company should be ready and able to explain processes on a level that works for you. 
By the end of a phone conversation, you should be able to tell if they are company that you would be comfortable with, and whether you are going to arrange a meeting with them. 

4. Be prepared 

Before your meetings with your potential web designer, it is worth being prepared and having the following ready: 
Your list of websites that you like and don't like (and what you do and don't like about them) 
What do you want your website to do for your business? Is it simply to help your existing client base find more information on you, or do you want to promote your business and reach new people? Is it important that it generates leads or sales? Do you want visitors to the site to interact with the content? 
What is your budget? Most website companies will charge an upfront cost to create your website, and then a monthly fee to host and maintain it. It is worth having an idea of how much you are prepared to spend, both initially and monthly.  

5. Questions, questions! 

The purpose of your meeting with web designers is to find the one you want to create your website, and to get into the detail of what you want from your website. You will probably meet with 2 or 3 that you have already had a phone conversation with, and you will want to establish whether they fully understand what you want from your website, and whether you and they are both comfortable that they can deliver that. Also, whether they can do it within your budget. 
You will obviously need to ask questions to establish if this is the right company for you. But they should also be asking you plenty of questions so that they understand your business, the values and goals of your company, your target audience, and the areas that you work in. Are you looking to rank highly on Google, or for a 'brochure website' where existing customers or interested prospects who already know you will come to your site to look at details of your products or services?  
Designers should also be asking you what type of style you want for your website. Do you want a corporate feel, or should it be more arty, or minimalist? What about colours. Do you have branding colours that your website needs to follow? Are there other colours that you want to include, or maybe some that you want to avoid. 
These are just some of the questions that a web designer should be asking you. So if they are not asking them, beware. If they don't understand how you want your website to look and feel, and who it is targeted at, it is extremely unlikely that they will create a website that reflects the personality and branding of your businesses, or attracts the people that you want to visit it. 

6. Editing 

One other thing that is really important for you to know, is whether you will be able to edit your website.  
There are a whole host of reasons that you will want to edit your website. You may want to put a special offer on it, or introduce a new product. If you have a new member of staff, you may want to add them to your 'About Us' page. If you move your business address, or change your opening hours, these will need to be quickly changed on your website.  
When these changes need to be made, you won't want to wait for someone else to do it when they have the time to do so. And you certainly won't want to pay for the changes to be made. So make sure that you will be able to edit your website whenever you want to. Also, check that you will be shown how the editing system works. It would be worth trying the system out to make sure it's easy to use. After all, you won't buy a car without test driving it, so why should a website be any different! 

7. If the price is right 

Some web designers will be able to give you the price for your website during your meeting with them. Others will come back to you a couple of days later. Once you have that price, make sure it includes everything you want and need for your website.  
Your website will need to be hosted, and your domain name will need to be registered and renewed every year or so. Check that your web designer includes this as part of the package. Otherwise they, or someone else, will need to do that at an extra cost.  
What about technical updates to your website? Website technology moves as fast, if not faster, than mobile phone technology. If your designer isn't going to apply technical advancements to your website, it will soon be lagging behind newer websites and those that have updates as part of their package. 
If you discussed any features, such as fading images, in the design discussions, make sure they are included in the price. Don't just assume that they are. And double check that you will not be charged for any extra set-up fees that are not included in the quote.  

8. Weighing it all up and choosing your web designer 

When you come to decide who is going to build your new website, be sure that it is a company that you get on with. You will be spending a lot of time communicating with them when they are working on your site, and there will be occasions when you need to speak to them once the site is live. So you need to choose some that you are comfortable communicating with. 
Have you checked out other websites they have created? Design is a matter of taste and what suits one person may not suit another. One of their clients may have insisted on a colour scheme that you don't like, so don't hold that against the designer! But look at things like whether the website is easy to use and navigate through. Do their websites look as good on mobile devices as on a computer. With well over half of all website browsing now done on smartphones and tablets, it's crucial that your website is easy to view and use on a phone and tablet.  
Finally, are they an established company? Knowing how how long a web design company has been trading for is very important. If they have been around for a number of years, they will have the experience of working with a variety of businesses for whom they have created a wide range of websites. Just as importantly, if they are well-established, they are not likely to disappear overnight, and will be around to look after your website for the longer term. 

9. What are the next steps, and what do they need from you? 

Your web designer will need certain things from you before they can start working on your website. It will be your responsibility to get the text, photos and any logos to them. If you need any help with that, ask them if they are able to do so, or if they can recommend anyone to you. Writing your copy, logo design and photography are all extra services which will come at an additional price. 
Most web design companies will require a deposit or upfront payment before they start work on your website. Once you have agreed the cost of your website, be clear about when payment will be required. 
Also, check when you will be required to give feedback on website progress, and agree the best way for this to happen. Will you meet up again, or will you look at the work online and then review by phone and email?  
Choosing a web design company that will build a great, and appropriate website for your business can be an enjoyable and rewarding task, providing you do some research and take the time to make sure you make the right choice. We hope theses 9 steps will help you with that process.  
If you have got this far, there is a very good chance that you are looking for a company to create a new website for your business. If that is the case, we would love to be one of the companies you talk to.  
Call us today on 01403 610125 so that we can understand your website requirements.  
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