- User experience. Does the web design firm understand all the techniques that go into making a website easy to use? No matter how cool a website looks, if visitors can’t find the information they need, they will get angry and click off. And, sometimes, overly creative or intricate design actually gets in the way of a good user experience.
- SEO. If you want to do SEO after your new website launches — now or down the road — your website must be built to support an SEO campaign. This requires a solid understanding of SEO, so that the proper foundation can be laid in the structure of your website. It’s complicated, and not all web design firms have the necessary base of knowledge.
- Conversion rate optimization. If you want your new website to generate sales leads or online orders (and who doesn’t?), then your web design firm must know the ins and outs of conversion rate optimization. These techniques run the gamut from the positioning of images to the layout and content of inquiry forms. If a fancy design employs principles that run contrary to conversion rate optimization best practices, your new site will be a consistent underperformer.
- Mobile-friendly/mobile-first design. We have entered an era where companies should expect a high percentage of mobile website traffic. Delivering a top-notch mobile viewing experience is arguably job No. 1 for a successful branding and lead generation website. In addition, mobile-friendly site pages are a very important ranking factor for SEO. If a fancy design looks great on a desktop but lousy on a mobile phone, the web design firm is not the one you want.
Choosing a web design firm is one of the most important decisions a business can make. With so much riding on the website, great results translate into more sales leads, more revenue, greater customer loyalty and stronger branding. Eye-catching layouts and imagery are the calling card of many web design firms. But don’t be hypnotized by dazzling design work — much, much more than that goes into a high-quality, strong-performing website. It’s necessary to research the firm’s capabilities in all aspects of web design before making your decision. The most important capabilities: