Most web design companies will promise to give your business a presence online. However, there’s a big difference between getting your company’s website up and running, and making sure it is ready to stack up against your competition.
Even the most attractive sites designed with every bell and whistle you can think of won’t necessarily perform well if the right foundation isn’t put into place.
Web design is like a recipe. If you leave out one ingredient, you may get a completely different product than what you hoped for in the end. Whether it’s the design itself, the messaging you promote or how you optimize your site, each ingredient (or component) of a website is equally as important and all play a strong role in the end result.
As you search for the best web design company for your business, there are clues that separate the top web design agency from the companies that don’t have your best interest in mind. The best web design company will do these five things for your business:
- Begin work before your website is ever designed
- Analyze important data
- Develop content that draws visitors to your site
- Stay on top of trends
- Avoid shady practices
Begin Work Before Your Website Is Ever Designed
Designing a website that is cookie cutter is like showing up to play football without ever having read the playbook. Chances are, you’ll be flattened by the competition.
The best web design company will do the necessary research to determine the correct messaging for the targeted markets you are going after … before ever designing your site. This is why working with a digital marketing agency that offers web design and incorporates it into the marketing plan it has designed for you may be your best option.
It’s critical to keep in mind that a website that looks nice but does not resonate with the visitor is simply eye candy. The graphic design of your website won’t help you convert any visitor into a lead or into a customer if any potential customers even find your site in the first place.
The best marketing agencies, especially those that work with you to develop an effective inbound marketing plan, will design a customer-centric website that drives the right message to potential clients. An agency should focus on learning about who your potential customers are, what their aches and pains are, and the best ways of sharing how your business can help.
They will spend time developing an effective strategy and design in which ALL of the elements on your website support your small business goals. In other words, rather than create a site that is all about your company, a marketing agency will instead focus on the messaging that resonates with your ideal customer.
If you …
- Need help with your marketing strategy and want to build a website that drives real results,
- Have a product that requires some client education, or
- Want to move toward being data-focused and providing customers with a great online user experience,
Then … you should need a marketing agency that offers a holistic perspective and gets to know your company’s individual needs before ever picking up a design tool.
Analyze Important Data
Your current website plays an important role in determining how to proceed with your new website. The best web design services will analyze your current website using analytical tools such as:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) analytics
- Website analytics
- Heat maps
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of ensuring a site appears high on the list of search engine results. The best web design companies will look at your search ranking for keyword phrases most important to your business. The agency will then evaluate what it needs to do to optimize your website to increase Google search visibility among your target audience.
Website analytics evaluate where your traffic currently comes from, how it arrives, where they go on your site and how long they stay. This type of analytics is just the basics of what should be looked at. Setting goals, researching buyer behavior and understanding the buyers journey are just some of the types of analytics that should also be incorporated.
Heat maps allow an agency to look at where people focus their time on a web page, as well as see which buttons or links people click. It’s normal for visitors to skim a webpage and look at images first, so it’s important to know what’s drawing their eyes so you can conversion rate optimize (CRO) each page.
Other strategies a web design company can use while analyzing data include:
- Looking at your competitors to see what’s working for their websites and how you stack up against them
- Performing a keyword analysis to find relevant keywords that you can rank for on the web
- Analyzing how fast your website is and if it’s secure
Once your website is designed, developed and goes online, analyzing the site shouldn’t end. In fact, it’s important that data continues to be analyzed so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Often, a web design company will perform the work needed to develop a site, but it’s critical to partner with an agency that will continue monitoring the success of your site so you can make changes as needed.
Develop Content That Draws Visitors To Your Site
Your website is more than a placeholder for your company’s address and contact information. It’s usually the first impression a potential customer has of your business. Imagine it like a first date, would you show up to the date in your sweat pant grubbies, hair looking like you just got out of bed and no makeup? Of course not! Your website should look the part also.
It should be a resource for anyone who may need your products or services. Accomplishing the latter means carefully crafting content to position your website as a leading authority on the type of service or product your business provides.
When looking for the best web design company, choose one that has broader knowledge of digital marketing. While web designers and web developers are experts in web programming, not all are experts in all aspects of marketing. This is important to keep in mind since the success of your website heavily weighs on more than just its design.
You may be better off working with a full-service marketing agency that offers a variety of services that include web design. An experienced digital agency will blend user design with the development of your buyer personas (your ideal customers) to create a site that customers love AND find useful.
Based on your buyer personas, an agency can create:
- Online materials like videos and blogs that stimulate interest in your product or service
- Offers like ebooks and white papers that a client perceives to be high in value
- High-converting landing pages for your ad campaigns
Even with an eye-pleasing and user-friendly design, poor-quality content will sink your site faster than water on a boat. Low-quality content will also damage your reputation and cause your prospective customer to look elsewhere. The last thing you want is to get potential customers to your site and lose them right away.
Stay On Top Of Trends
Working with a company that stays on top of leading trends in website design and content is important because this impacts your marketing strategy. For example, video is the No. 1 format marketers are using in their content strategies, according to Hubspot.
However, even more important is recognizing which trends apply to your ideal demographic. Here are a few social media statistics from Hubspot that show why targeting which channels you use based on your customer demographic should be part of your marketing strategy.
- Male consumers between 25 and 34 years of age represent the largest demographic on Facebook. (Statista)
- Most women on Instagram are between 18 and 34 years old. (Statista)
- The smallest age group on Instagram is senior males 65+. (Statista)
- Most American Twitter users (65%) are between 18 and 29 years of age. ((Pew Research Center)
- 25% of U.S. TikTok users are between 10 and 19 years of age. (Statista)
- 49% of U.S. internet users over 65 years of age say they use YouTube, compared to only 13% on Instagram, 7% on Twitter, and 4% of TikTok users. (Pew Research Center)
Even when applying trends to your design, it’s important to keep basic principles in mind. These include making sure the information you are providing can be found quickly and making sure you avoid too many components on your site, which can slow down your site’s loading time and impact your Google rankings.
Avoid Shady Practices
Although the above things are what you should look for, it’s also a good idea to look for what you should avoid. The top web design companies won’t offer shady practices as part of their arsenal of tools.
The first red flag is a company that will keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is a black hat technique and involves using keywords too many times in an effort to rank higher in search engines. Black Hat SEO will give you a bad reputation online and with Google, which will then lead to a bad reputation in real life. Other forms of black hat techniques include site cloaking, providing multiple redirects to visitors, content farms that provide inferior content and computer-generated content.
Another red flag is a web design or web development company that will try to nickel and dime you for each part of the design process. The best web design agencies will never charge you for each individual component of your website or offer an a-la-cart type menu. It’s the job of a web design service to have a cache of tools and products available when designing your site.
Finally, avoid any website design company that gives you false promises or unrealistic results. For example, if a web design agency says you will instantly see results with your new website, that is a huge red flag.
Any time you implement a new marketing strategy, it takes time before you’ll see substantial results. Even with inbound marketing, which is considered to be a leading marketing strategy for businesses, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It can take on average six to nine months to see the results you are looking for. If you are simply using a web design agency to redesign your website (without the marketing plan to generate leads behind it), you may be waiting a lot longer.
An agency should also never promise unrealistic results either, like getting you to No. 1 in Google searches within the next month. Getting a business ranked for a particular service may also be possible if the particular service specific keyword has a very low difficulty score and/or low search volume.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals, however. In fact, you should ALWAYS work with an agency that sets goals and adjusts those goals based on what is working and what is not working. Goals are guideposts that keep you moving in the right direction and help you eliminate waste in your marketing budget so you can get the highest return on investment (ROI).
In the end, if your goal is to grow your business, it’s critical to work with an agency that views your website as an extension of your business and not a one-off project.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!