9 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Web Design Agency | Forge and Smith (2023)

This article was updated on September 24, 2020. To see what it’s like to work with our web design agency, check out Our Process.

Web design projects are a lot of work!

Whether it’s a refresh or a completely new web design and build, there are so many factors to consider at every stage. How much content do you have, and how is it performing? What new technology do you need to integrate? And most importantly, how is the project going to improve the experience for your site’s visitors?

Businesses also need to decide whether they will contract freelance web developers and designers, or partner with a design and development agency.

This is a huge decision, because you’re putting your trust — and your budget — into someone else’s hands. Your digital marketing success, lead generation, and profit are impacted by your website. You need to get it right.

Not sure if your business needs to undergo a full new web design? Check out Web Design vs. Refresh: Which Do You Need?

At Forge and Smith, we always carefully review a potential partner’s project, and let them know if we aren’t the right fit. After all, it would be a detriment to our reputation to take on an incompatible project that results in unsatisfying work. We’re happy to refer businesses to independent developers and designers in Vancouver, if we think that’s the best route.

How can you tell if you should go with a web design agency or freelance workers? We’ll share our best advice.

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9 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Web Design Agency | Forge and Smith (1)

Post Contents

  • 9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Design Agency
    • What are your web design project requirements?
    • How much time do you have to work on the project?
    • Where are both teams located?
    • What is their web design process?
    • Which web design and development services are included?
    • What is the cost, and what’s your budget?
    • Who are the personalities?
    • Their previous work: case studies
    • When is your deadline, and how busy are they?

9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Design Agency

What are your web design project requirements?

Before you start researching local web design agencies and freelancers, you need to clearly outline your needs. The scale and complexity of your project can impact what kind of team you hire.

If you’re looking for a large redesign or a brand new build that requires complex, custom work and tech integrations, that kind of information will influence who you work with. From e-commerce to social media and email integrations, custom forms, geolocation content filtering, and custom layouts — all of these details should be presented to whomever you approach for your project.

Both freelancers and agencies will have different capabilities, and it’s completely possible to contract out complex work as well as simpler projects. That said, the ability to have one or two points of contact and all of the web design and development pieces managed in one place might make it easier on your team to partner with an agency.

How much time do you have to work on the project?

While the overall timeline is extremely important, what’s also critical is your team’s availability to work with your chosen agency or contractors.

Communications, reviews, approvals, content gathering, and meetings are all typical parts of web design and development processes. How much time your internal team has to work on these aspects will definitely impact your partnership.

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A web design agency will be used to handling a lot of the project management, reducing the time required on your end. Freelance web developers and designers can require more input at each stage, especially if you’re outsourcing both design and development to different contractors, meaning you might need to make more time available for back-and-forth. The more experience an agency or contractor has, the more efficient the process should be.

Where are both teams located?

Location, location, location! There’s nothing worse than having every communication and approval take days at a time because everyone is in a different time zone. Although it’s tempting to hire inexpensive independent contractors from overseas, the money saved might not be worth the frustration.

Another factor to consider when choosing a regional home base for your web design partners is when you want them to be available to communicate. Do you need them to be available for meetings during your business hours? Any more than a three-hour time zone difference can become a hassle.

It works the other way, too. For example, if you’re located in the UK, but hoping to have work done outside regular business hours and ready for reviews during your own 9-5, a Vancouver or other Pacific Standard Time city would be a great fit.

What is their web design process?

Process is what streamlines work, and ensures that goals and deadlines are met. Whoever you choose to work with, be sure to get a sense of their process. You should be able to get a timeline for major deliverables, so you can know when to expect them and to plan your own availability for reviews and approvals.

An agile, repeatable process can save time and yield great results. A lack of process, on the other hand, can add significant time and lead to a delayed launch — and plenty of frustration.

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Which web design and development services are included?

Whether you’re doing a refresh, a full re-design, or building a new site, it goes without saying that you need to know exactly which services are included in your partnership.

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Are you hiring a freelance developer who is an equally experienced designer, or do you need to outsource design as well? Can you contract a designer and developer who have previous experience working together, to streamline the process and communication?

Digging deeper into the services, what technical skills do they bring to the table? For example, a designer might be versed in both UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) design, and specialize in one category — or might have little to no experience in the other. And don’t forget to consider SEO! No web design project should be complete without an SEO audit and proper technical optimization before launch.

Partnering with an agency that offers multiple services — web design, development, SEO, and content strategy — can reduce the need to find a gifted freelance unicorn, and bring all of the necessary skills together.

What is the cost, and what’s your budget?

When hiring a web design agency or freelancers, remember to consider both the up front cost and the long-term value.

  • How much are you able to spend?
  • Will you be billed at an hourly, or is there a set budget?
  • Is there a cap on hours, or does the contract cover unexpected delays, unsatisfactory work, and other hitches in the process?
  • Which metrics will you use to gauge the value in leads or sales driven by the new website?

If you’re on a small budget, you probably want to consider a DIY website builder like Squarespace, a free WordPress site, or a similar page-builder solution. You could also find an economical collaboration with a contractor from another country. Keep in mind that the other considerations — like project time, team location, and availability for ongoing maintenance — still need to fit your needs.

If you can partner with an agency, you should still be sure to check into exactly what you’ll get out of your investment.

Which services are included in the price, and will they be willing to work with you for ongoing maintenance and support? From small bug fixes to critical security updates that impact your search ranking, your site is a living entity that needs as much attention post-launch as it gets during the design and build stages.

Who are the personalities?

This is a working relationship that can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, so it needs to be a healthy one! Who on your team will be involved in the communications and meetings? Can you get all of the key players together in an initial video call to put faces to names and test the waters?

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It’s important for the points of contact on both sides to have a good rapport, to ensure the project can move forward as planned. A mutual respect and understanding will help to steer the boat, especially in the case of anything unexpected that might come up.

9 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Web Design Agency | Forge and Smith (3)

Their previous work: case studies

Whether it’s a referral or the result of online searches and research, you should always spend time going through a potential web design partner’s work. Here are our top recommendations for what to look at when reviewing a web design agency or freelancer’s portfolio:

    • Number of projects — Do they have many years of experience, or are they just starting out? They might not have all of their completed projects online, so feel free to ask.
    • Scale of projects — Have they worked with businesses of your size, or on websites with similar technical requirements? Does their work show flexibility and range?
    • Aesthetic — Although instinct might be to look for websites that look exactly like what you want, instead look at the different page elements to see how they’ve designed for different clients. Looking at the websites before and after their engagement can give you a sense for how they design for different brand guidelines and audiences. If they don’t show before and after images, you can use the Wayback Machine to see past iterations of the sites.
    • Services & capabilities — What technical requirements did their completed sites have, and how did they deliver on them? Are the designs from templates or original? Are there examples of customized elements that they developed and integrated?
    • Process — We can’t emphasize enough the importance of process. Is their process transparent, and can you get a sense for it through stages in their completed projects?

Get to know Forge and Smith! Take a look at our web design case studies.

When is your deadline, and how busy are they?

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of time management on web design projects comes from setting and meeting deadlines.

Your launch date is a driving factor in how every other moving piece of the project works together. Do you need a quick turnaround? Do you have a large company that requires multiple eyes on every stage to give approvals, which means meeting exact due dates for deliverables is critical on both sides?

Inquire about the ability to meet your deadline right from the start. You don’t want to get a month into your project and only then find out that your freelancer is also juggling a full-time job, or that you’re one of 15 projects a tiny web design agency is trying to balance.

Your project’s success should matter just as much to your chosen web design agency or contractor. Do your homework, present all of your needs up front, and don’t be afraid to ask all of these questions — and more!

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FAQs

What should I look for in a web design agency? ›

There are three really important things to look for in a great web design partner: experience, agency culture, and portfolio. These three items can give you insight into how your project will be managed, if it will meet your goals and standards, and if they'll be a good overall fit as your web design agency.

What three questions should you ask before starting any web design project? ›

What three questions should you ask before starting any web design project? What is the purpose of the website? Who is the customer? How did they get here?

How do I know if I want to be a web designer? ›

How to Tell A Web Design Firm What You Want
  1. A completely new website.
  2. An update/new functionality for your website.
  3. Increased traffic to your website.
  4. A better conversion rate for your website.

What do you believe are the five 5 most important design considerations a webpage designer must address in creating an effective webpage? ›

There are five basic elements of web design, each one of these fundamentals contribute in their own way to the overall user experience.
...
Here are the five elements to web design:
  • Content. There's no denying that 'Content is King'. ...
  • Usability. ...
  • Aesthetics. ...
  • Visibility. ...
  • Interaction.
20 Feb 2019

What are the top 5 items you believe a new website must have to ensure a strong SEO foundation? ›

Part One: SEO Tips to Assit with Building your Site – The Right Way
  • Choose a strong domain name and URL structures. ...
  • Find a high-speed website hosting provider. ...
  • Nail down your web design strategy — without templates. ...
  • Set up your Google tools. ...
  • Evaluate your SEO competition. ...
  • Establish a keyword roadmap.
7 Jun 2022

What 6 things should be focus on when deciding if a website is trustworthy or not? ›

6 Tips for Checking if a Website is Reliable
  • Author. Take a look at the individual or organization running the website. ...
  • Keeping Current. When was the last time the site was updated? ...
  • Beyond the Headline. ...
  • Solid Science. ...
  • Audience. ...
  • Ask Questions.

What are the 8 steps in planning for a website? ›

How to plan your website in 8 steps
  1. Establish your website's expressed purpose and goals. ...
  2. Create a budget. ...
  3. Assign development roles. ...
  4. Map a content strategy. ...
  5. Decide what features to include. ...
  6. Build a style guide for assets. ...
  7. Create a mock-up. ...
  8. Test and maintain the site.

What are the qualities of a good web designer? ›

11 Important Qualities That Every Good Web Designer Possesses
  • Industry experience. ...
  • Knowledge, techniques, and strategies. ...
  • Expansive portfolio. ...
  • Competitive pricing. ...
  • A clear and organized development process. ...
  • Variety of services. ...
  • Good communicators. ...
  • Well-versed web technologies and internet.
23 Mar 2018

What's the purpose of a web designer? ›

Let's start with a basic understanding of what a web designer is and what they do. A web designer is responsible for creating new websites from scratch and/or making updates to existing websites. A web designer uses various software, tools, and technologies to create a functional website.

What are the 9 steps of the design process? ›

  • Identify the Problem.
  • Do Research.
  • Develop Possible Solutions.
  • Choose One Solution.
  • Design and Construct a Prototype.
  • Test the Prototype.
  • Communicate Results.
  • Evaluate and Redesign.

What are 5 of the 9 principles of design? ›

The main principles of graphic design are balance, contrast, emphasis, repetition and pattern, proportion, movement, white space, unity, and variety.

What are the 5 design considerations? ›

5 design considerations for your design thinking workshop
  • Design thinking provides guiding principles not the process. ...
  • Align the precise type and scope of the ideation workshop to your business objectives. ...
  • Define clear roles for participants and align to the workshop's key focus areas.
27 Aug 2018

What are the six 6 principles of web design? ›

6 Usability Principles for Effective Web Design
  • Every page element should fulfill a purpose. ...
  • Calls to action should be clear. ...
  • Conversions should always be a top priority. ...
  • Navigation should make sense. ...
  • Designs and page elements should stand out and be memorable. ...
  • Elements should facilitate engagement.
30 May 2012

What are nine best practices to improve webpage rank? ›

9 SEO Best Practices to Improve Your Organic Traffic
  • Align Your Content with Search Intent. ...
  • Write Compelling Title Tags and Meta Descriptions. ...
  • Optimize Your Images. ...
  • Optimize Your Site's Page Loading Speed. ...
  • Build an Internal Linking Structure. ...
  • Improve User Experience. ...
  • Make Your URLs SEO-Friendly. ...
  • Earn Authoritative Backlinks.
13 Nov 2022

What are 5 things that make a website trustworthy? ›

5 Basic Elements of a Trustworthy Website
  • Include authentic images. ...
  • Make your content helpful. ...
  • Offer social proof via media logos. ...
  • Offer social proof via partner logos. ...
  • Make it clear what happens when visitors click on links on your website.
1 Jun 2016

What are the 3 principles of good web design? ›

What are the three basic principles of website design?
  • Don't offer too many choices (Paradox of Choice)
  • Put things in an order that makes sense (Visual Hierarchy)
  • Leave enough space between the items on your page (White Space)
21 Jul 2020

What are the six 6 importance why we need to evaluate a website? ›

There are six (6) criteria that should be applied when evaluating any Web site: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance. For each criterion, there are several questions to be asked. The more questions you can answer "yes", the more likely the Web site is one of quality.

What are the six things to consider when evaluating the credibility of a source? ›

Common evaluation criteria include: purpose and intended audience, authority and credibility, accuracy and reliability, currency and timeliness, and objectivity or bias.

What are the ten key questions to ask when evaluating a website? ›

Website Evaluation Questions
  • Is the information accurate? Is the information reliable and free of errors? ...
  • Who is the author and what are his/her credentials? Is it clear who the author is? ...
  • How objective is the source? ...
  • How current is the information? ...
  • How extensive is the coverage of information?

What are the 10 basic principles of design? ›

There are 10 principles of design in total! They're also known as the elements of visual design, and are: movement, balance, contrast, proportion, repetition, rhythm, variety, emphasis, harmony, and unity.

What are the 8 requirements of a design specification? ›

Safety Reliability Availability Maintainability Supportability Analyses Physical and Preliminary Functional Def.

What are the 12 principles of design? ›

Understanding the basics

There are twelve basic principles of design: contrast, balance, emphasis, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, pattern, white space, movement, variety, and unity.

What are the golden rules of web designing? ›

10 Golden Rules of Website Design & Functionality
  • A good website should be easy to navigate. ...
  • Have a clear indication of where the user is. ...
  • URL should be easy to remember. ...
  • Website should be easy to find/look up/search for. ...
  • Website should work on multiple browsers. ...
  • Content should be updated often. ...
  • Layout consistency is key.

What are the 10 steps in the planning process? ›

The 10-Step Approach to Strategic Planning
  1. Develop a Team. ...
  2. Plan the Process. ...
  3. Evaluate the External Conditions. ...
  4. Analyze the Internal Conditions. ...
  5. Look at Your Competitors. ...
  6. Survey Your Target Audience. ...
  7. Define or Review the Organization's Mission. ...
  8. Assign Team Members to Complete Sections of the Plan.
4 Mar 2019

How do you make a website in 9 simple steps? ›

9 steps to designing a website in 2022
  1. Define your website's scope and goals. ...
  2. Research and plan out content. ...
  3. Design your brand identity. ...
  4. Create your wireframes and draft site copy. ...
  5. Pick your preferred website builder. ...
  6. Start building your website. ...
  7. Conduct user testing and gather peer feedback. ...
  8. Publish your website.
9 Aug 2022

What do you think are the 10 most important qualities of a good designer based on several qualities already presented? ›

It's not just an architecture magazine, but covers all aspects of design.
...
10 Qualities of Good Design
  • Sustainable. ...
  • Accessible. ...
  • Functional. ...
  • Well Made. ...
  • Emotionally Resonant. ...
  • Enduring. ...
  • Socially Beneficial. ...
  • Beautiful.
1 Apr 2009

When should I hire a web designer? ›

You should consider hiring a web designer if:

You have a sizable budget to spend on your site. You're willing to wait at least a few weeks for the final product. You don't want to deal with any design or technical aspects yourself.

What is the most important thing in website design? ›

The most important part to any website is content. Without content, your website is nothing more than an advertisement, which is not an effective online marketing strategy.

What are the 5 areas of web design? ›

5 Basic Elements of Web Design
  • 1) Content.
  • 2) Usability.
  • 3) Aesthetics.
  • 4) Visibility.
  • 5) Interaction.
20 Feb 2019

What are the 3 types of web design? ›

Web designing is of three kinds, to be specific static, dynamic or CMS and eCommerce.

How do you evaluate a web agency? ›

Ask the agency for client testimonials and references and make it a point to check them. Ask clients whether they were responsive, on time, and within budget. Keep in mind that some references may only be willing to provide general info. In that case, case studies may provide additional information.

What should be included in a web design contract? ›

The most vital parts of a web design contract
  • The parties involved. ...
  • Scope of work. ...
  • Payment. ...
  • Feedback, revisions, and approvals. ...
  • Termination of contract and lawsuits. ...
  • Privacy and confidentiality. ...
  • Ownership and work for hire. ...
  • Warranties.
2 Nov 2021

What services does a web design agency provide? ›

Web Design Services List (and Related Services)
  • Ongoing Website Maintenance. Clients that hire you to design a website are extremely likely to need additional service at some point. ...
  • WordPress Support. ...
  • Hosting. ...
  • Logo Design. ...
  • Graphic Design. ...
  • Ad Design. ...
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ...
  • Social Media Management.
17 Dec 2021

What are the 5 components of website evaluation? ›

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages: Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage
  • Accuracy of Web Documents. Who wrote the page? ...
  • Authority of Web Documents. Who published the document? ...
  • Objectivity of Web Documents. ...
  • Currency of Web Documents. ...
  • Coverage of the Web Documents.
9 Sept 2021

What are the 5 W's of website evaluation? ›

  • The 5 W's of Website Evaluation. Question. Follow up Questions. ...
  • Who. Who wrote the. information? ...
  • What. What is the purpose of. ...
  • When. When was the site. ...
  • Where. Where does the information come from? (Authority) Is it published by a reputable organization? ...
  • Why. Why is this page better.

What are 10 elements of a good Web page? ›

The Top 10 Most Important Elements of A Website Design
  • 1 Navigation. The website design should be easy to navigate and the menu items should easily accessible from any page. ...
  • 2 Visual Design. ...
  • 3 Content. ...
  • 4 Web Friendly. ...
  • 5 Interaction. ...
  • 6 Information Accessibility. ...
  • 7 Intuitiveness. ...
  • 8 Branding.

What should I ask a design agency? ›

The questions to ask when hiring a designer or design agency
  • Your end of the bargain. ...
  • 'What is your process, and how do you approach a new project? ...
  • 'How long will it take, and how much will it cost? ...
  • 'What am I buying? ...
  • 'How do you handle differences of opinion or conflict with a client?
8 Jul 2020

Why you should hire a design agency? ›

Reasons to hire a graphic designer

create a stand out brand. make your business more professional. appeal to new audiences. provide expertise and a specific set of skills to your project.

How do I choose an agency? ›

How to Pick an Agency
  1. What do you want? This question is actually for you. ...
  2. What services do they offer? Once you know what you need, you can keep it in mind as you start browsing and interviewing agencies. ...
  3. Who is on their team? ...
  4. Who are their clients? ...
  5. What's their reputation? ...
  6. What's their vibe? ...
  7. What's their sales pitch?
17 Aug 2021

What are the benefits of web design services? ›

Six Benefits of Having a Professional Web Design
  • Increased Revenue. Simply put a strategically designed and engaging website will attract more visitors and help convert those visitors into prospects. ...
  • Credibility. ...
  • Creates a Strong First Impression. ...
  • Better Google Rankings. ...
  • Minimize your Bounce Rate. ...
  • Brand Consistency.

What does a web agency do? ›

7. Web Design Agency. A web design agency is composed of creative designers who build customized and optimized websites or web pages for businesses. Web designers will handle the look, feel, and functionality of the pages, whether it's for a brand new website, a website redesign, or a smaller project.

How do web design agencies work? ›

As stated earlier, web design focuses on the look and feel of a website and it's supporting pages. A web design agency will likely have a professional graphic designer (or team of them) working on logos, color schemes, branding, and any content you'll be producing to make sure it adheres to your tastes.

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