Buyer’s Guide to Top Quality Web Design

Buyer’s Guide to Top Quality Web Design

Are you looking for help with web design? Good, because you’ve come to the right place! 

Home service business owners simply don’t have the time to develop the technical skills needed to create a professional, well-functioning website that delivers an exceptional user experience. 

Are you a local business owner? How do you find a good web design company to get your website up and running fast? What should you ask? 

Read our guide on How to Get Top Quality Web Design

Discover essential tips to choosing a web design agency that fits your needs and can create a dominant online presence for your home service business in Denver.

Buyer's Guide to Top Quality Web Design

Buyer’s Guide to Web Design

When To Use a Web Developer

There are many situations in which you might need web design services. Here are three common ones:

You’re starting a new business and need a website.

Your current website no longer offers the functionality needed by your business.

A simple off-the-shelf template website doesn’t provide the solution you want.

When To Use a Web Developer

How Do I Find The Best Web Developer For My Business?

The right web design team for your business is critical! Choose well, and your new website will be one of your most valuable assets – and help grow your business. Get it wrong, and it will be a source of frustration and headaches.

5 Questions To Ask Web Developers

1 –  Costs: start by asking about the pricing structure. Ask to see examples of websites at different price levels – and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

2 – Add-ons: there are some typical extras apart from the design elements of a website. SSL certificates, hosting, or advanced functionality could all cost extra. Be clear about what a design package includes and what the designer charges for separately. What about data security? What is the developer’s approach to handling sensitive data such as credit card details and other payment methods? How do they protect against DDoS attacks?

3 – Estimated Project Timeline: when can you expect results? How long will it take to set up/configure the site on your hosting package? Will it be a staged roll-out? You must be clear about what and when it will be delivered (live online and usable). Expect 4-6 weeks for a straightforward custom website design. A site with more complex features may take longer, and the designer may release it in stages or as upgrades to the initial website.

4 – Communication/responsiveness: who will you coordinate with? Ideally, you want to have one point of contact. You don’t want to deal with a different person every time you call or inquire about progress. Are they quick to respond to your queries via email/phone/social? What about their availability? Your website design will likely take up a big chunk of your time; make sure they will deliver within the time frame you need.

5 – Satisfaction/guarantee: what kind of assurance do you have that they will deliver on time and within budget? Are there financial penalties for going over budget/time? Any such conditions should be in writing.

Verify the Experience of the Web Development Team

Some new web designers are great at what they do – but others lack the experience to create a top-notch website. Although experience doesn’t always equate to better results – as a consumer, a proven track record shows that you’re dealing with a legit web design team. 

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Vendor Reputation

How long have they been in business? It is best to hire an experienced team that has built many websites. It will ensure you get good quality work.

Do they have a portfolio? How did they build those sites? What do their past customers think of them? 

Any testimonials or sample work you can see? The web developer should be keen to show you some examples of their previously created websites. 

Ask them to explain what they did and why it worked so well for the business owner who originally commissioned them. 

Can they provide a list of past customers? Call them and find out how positive their experience was. Find out if they have experienced any challenges with their site – for example, is it difficult to update or edit content? How about technical support, downtime, or other issues?

Review existing client sites to get a feel for what your site could be like before finalizing any deal. 

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Technical Abilities of the Web Development Team

Are they able to build specific things that you need? You might want to include specific functionality such as membership areas, blogs, shopping carts, lead generation, or other features.

Can they build your site using content management software (CMS)? A good CMS will allow you to edit the site later when updates are needed.
Are they experienced in the latest web design skills/languages such as responsive web design, search engine optimization (SEO), CSS3/HTML5?

Customer Support

You can spend a lot of time and money on your new website. So ensure you choose a web design team you feel comfortable collaborating with. Some key things to consider include:

Will you have a dedicated project manager?

Who will you deal with for any issues with your project?

Do they have an SLA (Service Level Agreement)?

How will they support your website when it goes live and beyond the initial launch period?

Make sure you’re confident in their ability to deliver what they promise. As mentioned earlier, speak to previous clients about their experience with the web developer to get a feel for what you can expect in terms of service.

Other Services You May Need

Your website should be the fundamental tool at the center of your digital marketing strategy. Get the most from it by using additional services which can help grow your customer base and revenue.

For example:

 

Website maintenance/management/technical support: you should consider what you need to keep your new site running smoothly. Depending on the size and complexity of your site, you may need assistance with server management, security updates, and technical support.

Digital marketing services: many home service contractors use PPC and Google Local Services Ads to complement their website. Consider what other services you may need to optimize your website and drive business growth. These could include Google Ad Words, SEO, PPC or pay-per-click advertising services, social media marketing, blogging, and generating leads.

Digital marketing services: many home service contractors use PPC and Google Local Services Ads to complement their website. Consider what other services you may need to optimize your website and drive business growth. These could include Google Ad Words, SEO, PPC or pay-per-click advertising services, social media marketing, blogging, and generating leads.

Online Payments: a secure payment system for credit cards, debit cards, or PayPal, is an essential feature of any website. Customers can be sure that all transactions are safe and secure. Online payment also avoids the need for operatives to deal with cash transactions.

Local SEO: do you want to integrate Google My Business, Google Analytics, and other SEO tools into your website? Make sure you get an explanation about how these tools will help your business grow.

Lead Generation: every home service contractor would love to have a never-ending flow of new leads coming in via email or phone. Can the web development team help you to create custom calls-to-action, landing pages, and lead ads designed with your business goals in mind?

Red Flags to Avoid When Choosing a Web Developer

When considering who to hire, here are some typical red flags that should make your run for the hills!

No Clear Development Plan :

Can the web designer clearly articulate a plan for designing your website? If not, it’s a big red flag. You need to know in advance what they are building and when it will go live. Talk to them in detail about any post-launch content updates you need on an ongoing basis.

Non-Responsive Web Design :

A large percentage of searches are done on mobile devices, so it is essential that the site they design works well across all devices, including smartphones and tablets. If it looks like a mobile website copy-and-pasted onto your PC screen, then it’s non-responsive. A fully responsive website is the norm nowadays – anything less won’t cut it!

No Basic SEO Package :

A design not backed by good SEO practices is a sign of an amateur web design company. For example, good optimization will compress images, serve critical content elements first, and submit sitemaps to search engines. A good SEO package will also use your researched keywords in titles and header tags, among other things.

No CMS Package :

All sites should have a content management system (CMS) to allow you to implement updates once the site is live.

No Lead Generation Features :

Your website can be a valuable source of leads for your business, but only if you have some kind of marketing automation. Marketing automation could be a Lead Magnet, Email Sequence, Online Survey, or maybe a “Tell Us More About Yourself” pop-up, etc.

Which Type of Web Design?

There are two common ways to approach creating a website: custom design and template design. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Which one is best for you? It depends on the level of functionality and complexity needed to meet your business growth goals.

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No Lead Generation Features :

Pros

You have complete control over the final design.

Personalization: you can have a fully customizable website to suit the individual needs of YOUR business. Add custom content and features to drive your business growth.

The more you pay, the better the results (and often faster development time, too).

It’s unique! Nobody else has a website the same – a critical advantage for branding!

Cons

Can be more expensive than off-the-shelf options unless you get discounts.

If your web developer lacks experience, you can run into all sorts of issues.

Template Design:

Pros

Many websites use a pre-prepared template. It means it’s quick and easy for a web designer to create your site.

You can get started very quickly (usually in a few days).

There’s usually less upfront cost than with a full custom design.

Cons

The design isn’t unique like a custom website design.

Templates don’t provide the flexibility to include advanced functionality and features or unique branding elements.

The limitations of most templates mean that your business will likely outgrow the website quickly. You might see some fantastic and helpful features on other sites but might not be able to include them on your website.

The Web Design Process

Identify Your Business Challenges and Project Expectations

Creating a website is similar to undertaking any project – without careful planning, it can lead to disaster!

Here are some key aspects of the web design process:

Determine if your website is a simple/medium/complex project. You must be clear about the project expectations.

What are your objectives? What do you want to achieve? Do you want to sell online or simply use it as a lead-generating source and marketing asset? Building an e-commerce site is different from a lead generation site for a local business.

Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to attract to your site? Knowing your target audience informs everything from the ‘feel’ of the site (modern/traditional/conservative/provocative) to color schemes and type of language used (casual/professional, etc.).

Do your ideas require advanced web design skills (animation, multimedia, etc.)?

Do you require an online shop? It doesn’t need to be a full-blown e-commerce solution like Amazon.com, but if you have products to sell online, you need to ensure the site will have this function.

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) for your project. These might include the number of visitors you’re aiming for, a target number of page views per month, or an expected response time from your website. Specify what needs to be done and how it will be measured. This lets you know whether your website is meeting your objectives and helping to drive business growth.

web design process

Define & Discuss the Plan/Proposal for the Website

Develop a project scope or proposal that details the website objectives, framework, and development plan. The plan is often best discussed with the web designer or developer face-to-face. By doing so, they can understand why you’re proposing certain features and ensure everything is understood before any work begins.

Here are some features you may want to incorporate into the design:

An online store where visitors can purchase your products

Image gallery to display a portfolio of previous work

Survey/testimonial/feedback/review forms so people can submit comments/feedback on the site.

Map and directions to arrive at your business.

One-click contact options (email/phone/inquiry form)

The objectives you hope to achieve with your website might include:

Increase lead generation or conversion rates

Engage with more customers

Better ranking in Google search results

Streamlined booking of work

A more dominant online presence

Pro Tip: Are you thinking of selling products online? Many home service companies make this decision based on what they think will work best for them. But websites with a commercial selling element also have a higher level of visitor engagement.

Your main business may be landscape design. But it might make sense to sell lawn care products or other related items online for delivery. A custom website with the correct functions can be a powerful – and valuable – marketing tool.

proposal for website

The Web Design Process

Identify Your Business Challenges and Project Expectations

Creating a website is similar to undertaking any project – without careful planning, it can lead to disaster!

Here are some key aspects of the web design process:

Determine if your website is a simple/medium/complex project. You must be clear about the project expectations.

What are your objectives? What do you want to achieve? Do you want to sell online or simply use it as a lead-generating source and marketing asset? Building an e-commerce site is different from a lead generation site for a local business.

Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to attract to your site? Knowing your target audience informs everything from the ‘feel’ of the site (modern/traditional/conservative/provocative) to color schemes and type of language used (casual/professional, etc.).

Do your ideas require advanced web design skills (animation, multimedia, etc.)?

Do you require an online shop? It doesn’t need to be a full-blown e-commerce solution like Amazon.com, but if you have products to sell online, you need to ensure the site will have this function.

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) for your project. These might include the number of visitors you’re aiming for, a target number of page views per month, or an expected response time from your website. Specify what needs to be done and how it will be measured. This lets you know whether your website is meeting your objectives and helping to drive business growth.

Share Key Assets

Collaborate with the web development team by supplying the necessary key assets. In most cases, a web designer will provide you with a list of items needed from your company for them to design what you need. What are assets? Assets are items such as logos, color schemes, and company information. The more assets you can provide, the easier it will be for your designer to design something that fits your company’s image.

What Things Should a Web Design Contract Include?

A web design contract is an agreement between you and your designer. It outlines what your goals are for the project. These must be clearly defined, and there should be specifications for how you will provide necessary assets and any other requirements that your designer needs.
Remember, the contract is only as good as the details it contains, so make sure it has a clear outline of what each party expects.

A web design contract should include:

Statement of the project scope: it describes what the project includes and what it does not.

Outline for who will provide assets and in which formats.

Timeline for the project completion.

How and who handles revisions to the web design.

Any other specific conditions that you have for your project or design work. Include information about approvals, minimum service level parameters, and similar conditions.

Any other miscellaneous items that both you and your designer agree to include in the design agreement.

Progress Reports

You must receive regular updates on progress. Be active in the development process; keep up to date so that you know what’s going on.:

Your designer should provide a written update at the very least every 30 days even if there is nothing to report; otherwise, you can assume all is not well and look elsewhere for a web design company.

Detailed reports for each stage are better so that there are no nasty surprises along the way.

A common complaint is lack of communication, so if the developer doesn’t communicate well with you, find another web designer who can.

If your web designer says, “trust me, I’m working on it” – walk away immediately.

If you can’t talk to the designer on the phone at least sometimes (not just voicemail) or they don’t seem to be answering email or work properly in terms of response times and turnaround, you might be better off looking for someone else.

Are your designer’s deadlines or delivery dates written into the contract? If not, you’ve lost all recourse.

Budget

What are your budget limitations? You may want a stunning website, but that doesn’t mean it’s affordable. A top brand e-commerce website that sells products ranges from $30k to $50k, and a custom B2B website can run anywhere from $60k – $80k.
Okay, not everyone needs such a sophisticated web design solution. Most home service businesses can benefit from a less complex website that costs much less.
If the price is too high, you may need to opt for cheaper web design or redesign solutions.

There are two basic pricing models used in web design:

Pay Per Project (fixed price)

With this option, you typically pay a set fee (depending on your needs) to the web design firm for developing your website. 

By choosing this option, you essentially agree to let them handle all aspects of building and maintaining your site for a fixed price. Some companies offer lower-cost limited-time pricing promotions.

This pricing model requires you to make a large initial payment. You then add smaller monthly payments until the end of the contract. At that time, any additional desired changes come with additional fees. This payment model often applies to simple template-based web design solutions.

Pay As You Go 

With a pay-as-you-go option, you can implement a “lean startup strategy” by paying for a minimal feasible product and then adding new features as you go. 

Often called Staged Deployment, the development begins with a functional website, and features are added incrementally until all the desired functionality is in place. This option works well for businesses that require a fully functional website from the outset. Budget restrictions might mean that the site doesn’t include some extra features during the initial stages of deployment.

If done correctly, a custom-designed website can finance its future development.

Final Thoughts

Creating a new website or restructuring an old one is a serious business investment. Ensure that the correct procedures are in place to get the most from your web design budget.

At The Code Nerds, we understand what our clients need for their business to grow. 

Our experienced web designers and developers aim to deliver three things:

We do all development work in-house – we don’t outsource.

Your designated Project Manager will act as your single point of contact throughout the entire project life-cycle.

We promise you’ll be 100% satisfied with your website.

Want a customized solution?

Click here to learn more about our web design services

or contact us directly at

  (720) 616 7211.

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