How to choose a web design company

Masha Swain

When starting a new business or moving your business online, choosing the right IT and web support from the beginning is essential. If you don’t choose well, you run the risk of issues with the design and code, solutions inappropriate for the problem at hand, late deadlines and ballooning project costs.

There are several important criteria we think can help to choose a web development team and protect yourself from these problems. Here is our guide to choosing the best team that won’t let you down. Let's go!

Why is it so difficult to choose a team?

One of the difficulties in choosing a great team lies in the fact that there are thousands of web development teams on the market. In most cases, each agency specialises in a specific platform or a specific e-commerce solution. They all offer various web development services aimed at different types of businesses.

But how exactly do you choose your team? First, you need to understand what kind of service you need. By doing this, you will narrow your search field and increase your chances of finding the right technology partner.

What do web development companies offer?

In web development today, you could create a hundred websites that look almost identical from a user’s perspective, all built with a different technology or set of technologies. Whilst the end result is the same, these underlying platforms and programming languages differ widely in terms of things like performance, security, and ease of use. Most agencies specialise in a particular technology they have experience in.

To make your search easier, you need to know what types of services are out there and how they are commonly implemented. Here, we will tell you about the classification of IT teams based on the types of their services and the types of projects they provide to clients.

Sites based on templates

A template is a ready-made set of HTML/CSS web pages. You can fill it with your text and images to get a finished website. The main advantage of such sites is that you can launch a site quickly without the help of developers and designers. You can also use this kind of solution to create online stores. Thanks to templates, you can create a simple website for your business that will be visible to search engines for a relatively low monthly price. Examples of these kinds of platforms include Wix, Squarespace and WordPress and many web agencies use these platforms exclusively to develop websites, often (and in particular with WordPress) using code to supplement the functionality of the site.

There are some disadvantages of template-based websites. For one thing, if you want to do it yourself and don’t have much knowledge of design principles, it can be easy to make changes to the site that go against these principles. A common mistake we see is filling the page with text about products and services, which is not ideal from a visual perspective. The other thing is that, depending on the package you get, the monthly costs can add up and, over time, outweigh the costs of developing your own site from scratch.

Unique sites

Some web development companies specialise in creating unique websites. They develop the site from scratch according to the customer's requirements. The development process itself becomes much more complicated as it includes target audience research, development of unique features and design.

To create a unique website, you will generally need a larger budget and more time. However, a unique website is a great solution for companies that want to surprise their customers with unusual design and functionality and, as stated above, over a longer period of time this can provide a good return on investment.

E-commerce sites

Thanks to e-commerce sites, you can sell your products and services on the Internet to a huge range of different customers. An online store can work either on an existing or on a custom-built platform. In the IT services market, companies that specialise only in creating online stores are called e-commerce agencies. Typically, such companies have extensive experience in the areas of e-commerce platforms, payment gateways and other aspects important in online commerce such as site architecture.

An online store can include both standard functions, such as a shopping cart, product catalogue and payment gateway, as well as more complex integrations with CRMs, social networks and marketplaces.

To create an online store, even a template-based one, developers need more time than a regular website. Why? Because the team has to add all products to the catalogue and test all the features to make sure the site is working properly.

Full-cycle development companies

Full-cycle development companies consist of several departments and can provide a wide range of services. Frequently, such companies consist of development, design, business intelligence and testing departments.  As a result, they don’t create just websites, but also mobile applications and unique software with business analysis, implementation and support.

These companies can provide an all-inclusive package. It is often much more convenient for site owners to work with such a team than to control the work processes of freelancers. Meet our team. Working with a full cycle team is not affordable for everyone. But this is justified by the fact that several specialists are working on your project at once.

How to Choose a Web Development Team

Choosing the right development team is not as easy as it sounds. You can compare developing a website to building a house. If you hire unskilled foundation workers who use the wrong materials, the success of your project will be at risk. To avoid such situations in the development of your site, here are some useful tips to find the right team.


Study the team's portfolio

1. Study the team's portfolioWhen choosing your future development team, it is important for you to assess their level of expertise, to understand if the team has enough experience to complete your project.Therefore, the first step is to view or request the portfolio of your potential partners. In most cases, you will be able to assess the level of functionality and usability of their previous projects, as well as their programming and design skills.

An agency's portfolio can give you insight into past projects that meet your requirements and expectations. Moreover, you will learn more about the company's experience in a specific area.It can also help to visit accounts of companies on specialised sites such as GitHub or Behance.


Read company reviews on Google

The best way to learn about working with an IT team is to read reviews from previous clients. To do this, visit their Google My Business page and check out their reviews. This feedback can give you a valuable insight into the kind of service you can expect.


Ask for contacts of previous clients

All companies that have been around for a while have previous clients. You can ask companies for their contact details to communicate with them directly. If previous clients are happy with working with your future team, then you are in good hands. Otherwise, it is probably better to look for another team. Even a quick chat with previous clients can give you a huge amount of information about working with the future development team.


Rate the quality of the company's website

You can learn about a company's quality standards by researching its online presence. To do this, analyse the company's social media accounts, the website and the quality of the published content.

Pay attention to the design of the site, its features, and the quality of the images. Your future team's website design should be modern. If a company ignores the latest trends, then it is unlikely to be able to create your project at the proper level.

The following sites are also really useful for getting insight into the developer’s site from a technical perspective:


How quickly does the company respond to your emails?

The speed of response to customer enquiries is another factor to consider when looking for a web development company. If you decide to work with a small team, then they may not have a sales force. In this case, you can contact the owner of the company. Any company, regardless of size, should be able to get back to you within 48hrs max.

If the team is interested in your project, then this is also a good sign. Remember that without understanding your goals and objectives, your team will not be able to give you an accurate assessment of the project.

How to choose a web design company

Unique designs give businesses an edge over their competitors using template website designs. If you want to create a unique design for your website, then you need to find an agency that specialises specifically in the development of UI / UX design. Here, we'll show you how to find this type of web design agency.


What is the team's approach to usability?

Usability is an important factor for an online business as it influences the behavior of online shoppers. In addition, website usability affects other important business metrics, such as conversion rate, time spent on page, and bounce rate. But most importantly, most of these metrics also have an impact on SEO. Ask your prospective e-commerce team what approach they are taking to provide your site visitors with a great user experience.


Do they have experience in your industry?

Each business sector has its own requirements in terms of web design and functionality. If you already have a vision for a future project, find out if your team has done something similar. By studying the finished product of a team in your industry, you can get an idea of ​​how well you might be able to work together.


How does the team measure performance?

You can ask the team about the results they have achieved with previous clients. In particular, about indicators of customer acquisition and retention of a product developed by the team. If the retention rate is below 60%, this indicates a low quality of work. At the same time, if the online store indicator is 70-90%, then this is your dream team.

Local team vs. outsourcing

Local team vs. outsourcing is another important decision you will have to make when choosing a web development team. Working with both local teams and agencies from other countries has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Pros of a local web development team

Ease of communication - when working with an agency located in your city, you can easily arrange a personal meeting with the developers. In addition, this kind of communication is very useful in the early stages of a project. If you have a problem with the site, the local team can fix it in real time.

Cultural similarities - if you are planning to create an online store or website for a local audience, then you are better off hiring a local team. They should already know a lot about the wishes and requirements of your future customers and site users.

Legal issues - it is much easier to work with a local web development team, since, if something goes wrong with the project, it is much easier to resolve legal issues.

Disadvantages of a local web development team

Cost - the cost of a project developed by a local team, particularly in the UK, can be significantly higher than the cost of an outsourced developer project from elsewhere. Importantly, the difference in cost rarely affects the quality of the work.

Time - if you want to hire a local web development team, be prepared for the necessary specialists to be employed on other projects. Local teams do not always have free developers with the necessary skills and a high level of expertise.

Benefits of outsourcing a development team

Expertise - you can hire an outsourced team or an individual specialist with expertise in a specific area.

Personnel - outsourcing agencies have access to a huge pool of talent. Thus, they can potentially provide more developers and technicians with the right level of expertise. Moreover, companies often hire these agencies for specific tasks, such as UI/UX design or mobile app development.

Disadvantages of outsourcing development teams

Synchronization - if you decide to work with a team from another country, be prepared for the fact that you will have to schedule Skype meetings in advance due to different time zones. For the same reason, they might not immediately respond to your emails.

Cultural differences - these differences can be a potential problem when working with an outsourced team. Problems can arise on projects, such as misunderstandings and errors.

Despite all the disadvantages, working with an outsourcing web development team is a very popular solution. Most often, clients tend to work with outsourcing teams from South America, Eastern Europe and Asian countries. Why? Because the cost of an hour of work for developers from these countries is much lower than for specialists with the same skills from the UK or Western Europe.

At Heliotrope Digital, our team includes specialists from lots of different countries. Our company’s head office is located in London, where key employees work, and we also have technical specialists working in Russia and Ukraine. This allows us to create a balance between high quality service and expense. If you’d like to discuss a project, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to have a chat!


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