With so many web design companies to choose from, how do you know which one might be the best fit for you? It's all about looking at their work and asking the right questions. Below are the questions WE think you should ask any of the web design company you interview. Skip right to the questions here.
If you consider your website your main marketing tool, finding the right web design company is critical. That's because prospects will be judging you by your website. We all do it. That's because someone's first visit to your website will be their first impression of your company. And you just KNOW they’re going to be looking at your competitors’ websites, too.
How quickly do people judge your website? Seconds.
Research shows people judge websites to determine a company’s credibility within the first few seconds? That's because we're all members of the Short Attention Span Society and we all have 100 other things to do, so our time is short.
From looking at our client's Google Analytics, the average time spent on a website is about 1 minute. However, this research says the average time on a website is only 15 seconds.
The Journal for Behavior and Technology say people get an impression of your website in just 50 milliseconds. We can't imagine just how short a time period that is, but sounds like we're all making snap judgments these days. Psychology Today even has a test so you can see how short your attention span. We took it , and of course, we didn't even read the intro paragraph before taking the test. Not sure what that says about OUR attention span!
Once you get a prospect past a 15 second visit...
Your website should showcase the level of knowledge you possess in your industry. While it should also represent your personality, your website should NOT talk much about you or your company. It should be about what you can do for your customers. This is important, because no one really cares about you (or us) until they know how you can help them.
This means your website, and especially your homepage, should say what you do for your audience. It should also reflect what you do to help your customers, how you make their lives easier, and indicate the knowledge of your industry. Those are the things your prospects really care about. Once they get to know you, maybe they'll want to learn about the behind-the-scenes workings of your company.
Here are the questions we think will determine if your website will blend into your competitor's websites, or if it will stand out and show you’re more evolved than your competition.
- Is their style your style?
This isn't so much a question as something to look for. Are they using templates that will make your site look like so many others? Or is their site, and the samples they show, unique and interesting. This is how you get past the 15 second time limit many people spend on websites.
- What type of images will you be using on our website?
Are they using obvious stock shots, or are the ones they use more interesting? There are tons of options when it comes to photography, so if there's goofy stock photos on their website, that's likely the types of images you'll end up with on yours.
- Do you have a marketing perspective?
You can figure this one out yourself: Are they talking about themselves on the homepage or are they talking about what they can do for their clients? If they're talking about themselves, they're not marketing-focused. And remember, no one cares about a company until they know that company can help the prospect.
- Do you write SEO-focused content?
This is a tough one to prove on your own, but don't take their word for it. How well their website ranks on Google reflects how well their website is written using SEO-focused content. Writing for the web is different than writing for print. It's one of the top things that determines how well you'll show up in search engines. Ask them to show you what goes into their writing. Read more about writing for the web here.
- Are you building mobile first?
In 2020 Google is looking at the mobile version of your website to determine how worthy it is of ranking well in their searches. So even if your audience is looking at the desktop version of your website, Google is still looking at the mobile version. Don't take their word for how well they build mobile sites. Check it out with Google's PageSpeed Insights tool here, by putting in the web design firm's website address to see what rating it gets. This tool gives a rating to both the mobile and desktop versions of a website. See how the web design companies' websites rate: if they can't build their own websites well, there's no way they'll build yours well enough to rank well for Google. See what the results from a Google PageSpeed Insight test looks like here.
- Do you provide SEO?
SEO is what happens ON your website. Ask them to share what they do for SEO. Ask them to show you how they do their research with Google's Keyword Research tool, or SEM Rush.
- Do you provide SEM?
SEM is what happens OFF your website, which would be Google Ads, bringing your Google My Business Profile up-to-speed and a host of other services. Ask how much they charge for managing you Google Ad campaigns. Ask them to show you what managing your ads looks like. Ask how often they'll be in touch with you to review your progress. It's a complex sub-specialty and something to be done by someone with experience.
- How do you determine what goes on your homepage?
What goes on your homepage is more than just what looks nice. If they don't say either:
"We review your Google Analytics to find the most visited pages, and graphically show those so people can get to the most important pages in 1-click."
"We take the services that are most profitable to your company and make those the easiest to get to with 1 click." or
"We place the services you want to promote most, with images that support them, so we can direct people to those services more easily."
...then they're just guessing at what should go on the homepage.
- Do you offer services other than web design?
It'd be a good idea to only have to work with a single firm for most, or all, of your marketing. Find out what else they do to see if working with them will be too limiting,
- Can you make my website ADA-compliant?
This website is ADA-compliant. If you click the man icon in the lower left you'll see how it works. Going forward, this is a big issue. Companies are being sued for not having ADA-compliant websites. Disabled (or to be politically-correct: "differently-abled) individuals just want the same access to the internet as everyone else. The American with Disabilities Act has been around since 1999, but now that the internet is considered a ”utility,” ADA-compliance also applies to websites. So it's more important than ever to have an ADA-compliant website.
- What does your ongoing maintenance cover?
Ask if they do security updates, what it includes, and how much they charge monthly. Ask if that covers helping with other small updates/items you might need help with along the way. It certainly should.
Of course, liking the individual you'll be working with is also a bonus, so meeting them, whether in-person or through Zoom, is important. Of course, if you'd like to ask US anything, feel free to drop us an email here.
The Google PageSpeed Insights ratings for our website are below. Make sure you run the web design company you're considering through Google PageSpeed Insights here. If their rating is in the red, consider that a red flag for that web design company.