If you google the words “web design”, you will get hundreds of millions of hits. There will be hundreds of addresses of companies offering this service only in your area. Nationwide, there are much more and vary from companies with teams of more than 100 employees and whole buildings used for offices to one-man companies based in a one-room apartment or a garage.
It is hard to make a choice when faced with so many opportunities. What is more, you not only want the web studio to develop your website, you entrust your entire business in their hands. Every single mistake will reflect on your profit, every single oversight will cost you another investment, every delay may cost you your future.
To separate the wheat from the chaff, you should skip the web studios offering an end price for a concrete website. Many companies offer website development as if they are selling potatoes. A website for $200 with a description of the company, 5 photos, and a contact form; $320 for 18 photos, and 32 pages with products; $500 with a free domain, 33 photos, and 8 pages with a right to make changes three times a year… It sounds logical to pay more when you want more but the price formation principle is highly corrupt.
In fact, those who will create the website do not care whether your website will have 5 or 5,000 pages unless they use technologies from 1995. These companies stake on high turnovers from unpretentious clients, who want something (I underline “something”) about them on the internet. If you have a concrete plant or a tire repair shop and you need to have information about you on the internet, such a website may be of use. But this is not an internet business – this is an online business card. These companies have developed systems and designs, in which they only change the name of the company and everything is done in minutes, literally.
This type of websites is like fast food restaurants – low-quality products for people, who do not care about their future. The price does not matter – whether it is $300 or $3,000, this vicious practice turns the internet business into a grocery store, while the work of programmers and designers is belittled to selling potatoes. One day you will have to hold this conversation with the web studio: “I want two contact forms, three buttons of the green ones, six photos. Pack them for home… Oh, you don’t have enough buttons… When will you get new ones?”
With this filter, the number of the companies will be drastically cut, which makes the selection easier. Only medium-sized and big companies will be left on the list. You should not calm down though because it is still hard to make a choice. If there is no one to consult with and get a trusted recommendation for a company that can do the job, you should carefully examine the websites of the web studios. See what projects they have realized, whether these projects are still online, and whether the name of the company that developed them is still mentioned there.
Often, for one reason or another, a big client hires a certain company. This way the big client enters a web studio’s portfolio but this does not guarantee that the job was well done, according to the set schedule, and that the two parties have kept their good relations. Even if a portfolio is full of dozens of such big companies, it is not a guarantee. The sad truth is that many companies appear on the web scene with a blast, winning “dream clients” until they take so much work that they cannot handle it. Next comes the pyramid principle – if you are among the first, you win and you are left with perfect impressions. If you are in-between, things are neither too good nor too bad. But if you come into the stage with already high saturation, you have simply lost your time, money, and nerves.
When it comes to the web studios, you cannot judge by the look and design of the office, the number of employees you see, or the effective presentation made by the nice office assistant. Everything is absolutely different in this field.
Sometimes the best choice may be a person without an office and without any experience in developing projects like yours, a person who has worked only for unknown companies and websites.
Whether the project will be realized on time or not depends on the current state of the company you have chosen. You must be certain that the presentation you will be offered will not mention anything about serious deficits in certain resource faced by the company – programmers, designers, time, money, equipment, or know-how. The lack of knowledge and information about the novelties and innovations in the field is what may harm your project the most, and it is something that you cannot diagnose yourself at the web studio unless you are an expert.
A real-life example
I will give you an example of a company from the 1990s. I will not mention its name out of collegiality. 15 years ago it was on the crest of the wave, developing expensive websites, while now its own website is not improved – either in terms of vision or of technologies. What is worse is that it offers its new clients technologies from 12 years ago, its prices are no longer the highest, and yet it still has a good reputation. The technically inadequate websites can hardly be ascertained by the client.
In the end, the client is not supposed to have a master’s degree in Information Technologies or Informatics to order a website. A web studio’s lack of know-how creates stillborn projects, which ruins the image of internet businesses, which already have gained bitter experience. This way many people have been left with the impression that the online stuff is simply not working. It will be a real nightmare to come across such a studio but fortunately, now they rarely appear among the first results of the search engines because they do not know how to get there – they lack the knowledge, which they failed to gain ten years ago.
Choosing a web studio or a freelancer is much similar to choosing a dentist, a car mechanic, or a lawyer. You will hardly knock on the first door with such a sign you notice on the street. You will rather consult with a friend to recommend you someone, whose services they have commanded and have been left satisfied with. This information is priceless and can save you a lot of nerves, time, and money. Yet, you should bear in mind that people around you are not experts, and most likely they cannot detect a patchy work at first sight, while a poorly developed website may start causing troubles in one or even two years. And you will have no clue why your business is not going well and you will continue pouring money into the web studio or the freelancer, who are causing you harm unintentionally, simply because they lack the needed competence.