Great web design can double sales, reduce bounce rates, and improve customer perception of a brand. Designing a website from scratch is impossible unless you have a web design background. Finding a trustworthy web development company to build out your site should be priority number one for many businesses around the globe.
Many companies, both Portland-based and elsewhere, are turning to the great state of Oregon to find and hire a Portland web development company. The creative talent of the city, along with its mid-market rates, attract a wide variety of companies looking to hire a Portland web design team.
Just because you know you want to Portland company does not mean it’s going to be a clear choice though. Vetting web design services is going to take time and lots of research. In the end, all of this effort will pay off in both the product and total investment. To make things a bit more manageable on your search, we’ve constructed a checklist of things to review as you hire a web development company.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when hiring a web developer is focusing on prices alone without a proper understanding of the value received per dollar spent. Don’t make that same mistake. Follow our guide and you’ll protect yourself from sloppy, amateur web design.
Designing is a Two-Way Street
No matter how little you think you know about web development, having no say in your company’s website is a recipe for disaster. Your website is such a key component in your brand’s identity. You need a cohesive design that compliments your business’ core offerings.
A professional web development company will listen to what you have to say…not just dictate the project! They should be asking you lots of questions, as well as answering yours. Don’t let their fancy portfolio give you the impression that your input isn’t valid.
What Are Their Plans/Ideas?
On your initial consultation, the web development specialist should have some first-impressions or ideas already. If they can’t give you any feedback or a rough outline of what they could do for your business, it might be bad news. Inexperience speaks from a place of uncertainty and a lack of creativity.
Responsive Web Design
During your early talks, ask them if they will be incorporating responsive web design. What this basically means is that your website will be designed for all screens–mobile, tablet, and computers. This means that your website will be designed with one theme, which is adjustable for all devices.
Ever since Google updated their algorithms to adjust for the overwhelming chunk of the mobile browsing population, there has been a major push for web developers to get some semblance of a standard for website functionality. That’s where the concept of responsive design was born.
This was the most effective solution to being stuck with websites that are not properly for mobile users. Design one webpage that can display the same proportions and features, no matter what size screen you’re looking at.
Lastly, don’t just choose a responsive template and expect your site to be perfect. While many design platforms now incorporate responsiveness into their code, your website still requires fine-tuning for different screen sizes. Ask your web development company how they implement their responsive design process before moving forward.
Optimized for Google
Responsive websites, while not explicitly listed as the only preferred mobile browsing option, will perform better on search rankings than those who are using a simple mobile HTML-based website.
Any website design that isn’t responsive will usually leave tablets and hybrid tablet users with a lower-quality experience. This may mean that their screen space is either not being utilized, resulting in blank spaces on the sides, or that they are forced to browse the desktop-size webpage that requires more scrolling and swiping to navigate. Either way, they’re getting a second-class experience.
Local and National
If your business has a local audience, then you should ask if the design company has experience with local SEO. Branding and optimizing at a local level requires a specialized skill set. Google searches are much easier to rank for when your website is optimized locally.
That includes geotagging various website elements, organically hitting local keywords, incorporating Google Maps effectively, and more. 78% of all local mobile searches results in an offline purchase. People are looking to buy, and if your website isn’t optimized locally, you’re missing sales.
Advanced Web Design
Responsive web design doesn’t just look more polished, it enables the website to perform. The amount of coding that is needed to deliver a smooth experience for all types of devices, without using responsive templates, is unreasonably heavy.
Responsive websites are simple, yet visually impressive. They can be easily updated, migrated, and compartmentalized, without having to constantly adjust the code to work on all devices. Taking out the time and money wasted on the guesswork is well worth the investment in a new website if your current one isn’t mobile responsive.
User Interface Standards
As processors become faster, networks quicker, and convenient shopping the new standard, you don’t want to be left in the past with a clunky, unimpressive web design. Graphics and user interface buttons are becoming much sharper, and mimic the tactile feedback without tradeoffs of slower page loads or glitches due to inadequate processing power.
Users will start to look at web pages that are slower, flatter, and harder to navigate as outdated and not worth browsing. With so much competition out there, you can’t afford to lose a customer due to poor UI.
Your web developer needs to know about these visual trends, coding improvements, and advanced analytics. If they are just churning out simple websites and swapping out color themes and logos, they may not be the best if your brand requires a deeper web experience.
Experience is Crucial
How old should a web development company be before they’re deemed experienced? Well, this can vary, but you want them to be in business for a couple years, at least. You don’t want to fall into the trap of paying for a service from a fly-by-night operation.
Look at their portfolio, see how much work they have under their belt. Great web design should be met with great customer reviews and testimonials. It also helps if they have an active social media presence. It’s a lot harder to curate or manipulate customer feedback on other platforms.
Do They Have Marketing Experience?
Are they just a team of graphic designers and programmers or are they a complete web development company? Hiring a company who knows more than just aesthetics is a huge bonus. Your website is going to perform a lot better when it created with things like CTAs, bounce rates, conversion rates, and campaign strategy are understood.
Navigation and page elements won’t need to be forced into the design after the fact. Natural integration of buttons, subscription fields, and upsells is extremely valuable in web development.
While you look through their portfolio, take the range of companies they have worked for. Do a lot of them center around the same niches? Are their designs built for only a handful of industries?
This is important to know when searching for a web development team that will work outside the box. If the majority of their business is cookie-cutter websites, then that means they aren’t willing to challenge themselves. At worst, it could mean they are reliant on templates with little modifications. These developers may offer slightly more affordable prices, but the value you receive is significantly less, and your customers will be able to sniff this out.
If you want your business to stand out, you cannot afford to settle for a barely-modified template that does the job. You can have a clean, well-balanced, and unique web page design without breaking the bank.
Modern Designs and Trends
Have you ever watched an old movie or TV show and seen what websites looked like in the past? Go back far enough and you’ll be met with big, ugly, and flat pages with no “life.” Go back less than a decade and you’ll see ugly designs, but with less obvious flaws.
The reason why many amateur web designers have cheaper-looking products is not just due to technical skill. It’s about following modern designs and trends. People grow tired of looking at the same things for years on end. Just take the ultra-flat designs spurred from smartphone development.
Today, users find it a chore to navigate through these flat websites, taking 22% longer to find what they’re looking for. You don’t want to be left behind with an outdated look on your website. Ask the web developers what the current trends are in web design, and how they plan to implement them into your project.
We end on price, being the least important aspect to consider while shopping around for web developers. The reason, of course, is that much of what passes as web design these days is editing layouts and themes on WordPress. There’s nothing wrong with this approach for simple blogs or landing pages.
If you want a professional, brand-appropriate, and cutting-edge website, you’re not going to find it for less than $3,000. Another big issue with selling yourself short is not having all the security in place to prevent hacks and server attacks.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t negotiate and shop around. Businesses just need to understand that your website is a serious investment that you should budget for considering long-term ROI, not just the immediate return enjoyed from saving a buck or two.
Finding a Portland Web Development Company
Finding the right Portland web development company is not the easiest job with so many to choose from. The time spent interviewing and bouncing ideas off companies is well worth the investment.
We’d love to discuss your company and potential web design needs if you have further questions.
Contact us today to see what we can bring to the table!