10 'Little-Known' Keys To Look For When Hiring a Website Design Agency

    Oct 23, 2023

    There’s nothing worse than being a local, service-based business looking for web design services and experiencing buyer’s remorse. Unfortunately, many of our clients have been swayed by cute marketing or design that seems to check all the boxes but just doesn’t perform.

    Our team has seen and heard it all during the last 18 years as a web design agency. It’s why we wrote this blog post to ensure you’re as informed as possible before making a decision to move forward with an agency for your service-based business.

    Why? Because there’s much more to hiring a web design agency than just a sleek facade. We’re about to reveal the ‘little-known’ keys that can make or break your website, whether upgrading or starting from scratch. In doing so, you’ll ensure you get a website that does its job: becoming a lead-generating profit center for your business.

    Anything else is a shiny distraction.

    1. Mobile-Friendly Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

    Sure, many agencies can create visually appealing websites, but a design that works seamlessly on mobile devices must be a priority. If your agency doesn’t start with mobile, look elsewhere. Today, mobile is where most prospects and customers will interact with your business and can no longer be an afterthought.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Mobile responsiveness is not optional. It’s a priority as Google’s algorithms favor mobile-friendly sites. Make sure your web design agency prioritizes mobile-first optimization before moving forward.

    2. SEO That’s More Than a Buzzword

    Beautiful websites are great, but if they’re invisible to search engines like Google, they’re like the ‘hidden gem’ no one ever finds. Instead, you must ensure that your agency prioritizes SEO for local, service-based businesses and can weave it into the DNA of your site from day one.

    Otherwise, you’ll be left with a nice-looking asset that fails to consistently outrank your competition for commonly-used search phrases.

    Web Design Pro Tip: SEO isn’t a one-off; it’s a consistent process. Your web agency must be well-versed in SEO, from building your site to ongoing content that continues solidifying your rankings and improving them over time.

    3. Functional Design That Drive Performance

    Today, many website-building agencies focus exclusively on design. They’ll impress you with shiny websites that lead you to sign the dotted line but then fail to perform. Remember: the goal of your site isn’t to impress visitors. It’s to convert them into booked calls, free estimates and appointments. Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Great design isn’t only about aesthetics; it’s about functionality. A solid web design agency must understand your business’s target market and build the site to load quickly, be easy to navigate and maximize conversions.

    4. Speed: Not a Luxury, But a Necessity

    Say you’re a carpet cleaning business. Your prospect Googled “carpet cleaning Knoxville” and has two window tabs up. One of the sites takes forever to load, causing the user to refresh. Yours loads instantly, speaks to their problems and shows them examples of pristine carpets. Who is the prospect going to choose? In almost every case, they’re going to choose the website that performs.

    When hiring for website services, place a premium on speed. Today’s search engines will push slow-loading websites down in the rankings, and consumers don’t have the patience to wait.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Website speed affects user experience and SEO. It’s a performance metric that directly impacts your bottom line. Your agency must prioritize speed optimization.

    5. User Experience is Everything

    Amateur web design agencies focus on user experience as an afterthought. Instead, the best ones reverse engineer the user experience based on your niche, prospect’s needs and demographics to build an easy-to-navigate website that is clear, functional and performs across all devices.

    Web Design Pro Tip: User experience is the linchpin of a successful website. Your web design agency should be obsessed with creating an intuitive, enjoyable visitor experience. Don’t let fancy gimmicks distract you from what matters.

    6. Continuous Support and Maintenance

    Your website isn’t a ‘set and forget’ project. Instead, to continue climbing the rankings of SEO and ensure your site is constantly performing, you must look for an agency that offers ongoing support and maintenance. The last thing you want is to receive your website and never hear back from the firm, having to figure out everything on your own.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Website maintenance is critical. Bugs, updates, and changes are part of the game. Your agency should offer post-launch support to keep your site running smoothly. Dig into the deliverables and ask them exactly what you’re getting.

    7. Content Management Systems (CMS) for the People

    If you’re going to consistently rank on SEO and continue to deliver valuable content to your prospects and customers, you’ll need to leverage a user-friendly CMS platform to manage your content. Make sure your website-building agency uses an open source system where you own all the content no matter what happens.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Your CMS choice matters. A user-friendly CMS gives you control over your content. Your agency should recommend a system that suits your unique needs and goals.

    8. No Hidden Costs, No Surprises

    We’ve heard of this too many times. A customer used a website builder who made big promises about pricing and then kept adding hidden costs, upsells and unnecessary add-ons that inflated the project’s price many times over. At that point, the business owner is stuck and will continue to keep paying.

    Unfortunately, there’s a lack of transparent pricing in the marketplace that can be borderline unethical which means you must be willing to ask the tough questions and demand clarity from day one.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Transparency is key. Avoid agencies that mask their pricing with vague figures or hidden fees. Ask for a clear, detailed pricing structure.

    9. Show Me the Proof

    When hiring website developers, look for a company with a star-studded portfolio of success stories and case studies relevant to your niche. Make sure to review these carefully and ask specific questions. In addition, you should be able to request the client’s contact information without hesitation from the agency to discuss their experience.

    As a local, service-based business, you want to hear of specific, tangible numbers that represent performance. From generating leads to increasing conversions and growing revenue, look for website services that aren’t afraid of digging into the numbers.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Ask for concrete evidence of success. Case studies and client testimonials demonstrate a track record of delivering results. Don’t be shy here, this is your livelihood after all!

    10. Industry Expertise and a Personal Touch

    The moment you start looking for website-building services, you’re going to become a target of people all over the world who are looking to pitch you services. They’ll find you on LinkedIn, hound you over email and do anything to close a sale.

    You want to work with an agency that understands your market and can provide the unique, personal attention that comes with servicing clients in your business area.

    Web Design Pro Tip: Industry knowledge is a game-changer. A web design agency intimately familiar with your market can create a website that resonates with your audience.

    Your Business Deserves a Better Website

    Navigating the world of website-building services can be challenging for a business owner. Especially because you’ve got a ton on your plate with running and growing your business and don’t have the time (or energy) to put everything on pause as you look for a new website. Armed with these tips, hopefully, you’ll be able to make a great decision that helps fuel your business growth.

    That’s why Slamdot exists. Unlike many website builders, we’re performance-obsessed digital marketers with nearly two decades of experience. Which means that we dig into the trenches of your business and ensure you have a highly functional, yet easy-to-use website that captures leads and funnels them into your business.

    Instead of creating a website, we think about every step of your prospect and customer journey and ensure you have a business-building asset for years to come. Above all, we value results over awards or showing off our design. We’re proud never to outsource our services and instead hire directly with most of our staff here in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    So if you’re ready to discuss your next project and how we can take your website to the next level without any guesswork, reach out to let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll connect!

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