What to Look for in a Web Development Company

Having an online business comes with plenty of risks. Without the proper design and coding, your site or eCommerce store could be vulnerable to security threats or poor user experience (UX), which could lose potential customers.

Finding the right development team is essential to ensure your website is user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and secure. 

In this post, we'll cover five things to look for when searching out the perfect web development company for your next project. Then, we'll answer a few frequently asked questions about web development projects in general.

What is a Web Development Company, and Why Do I Need One?

Web development companies help you design and build a website or online store. With the availability of many template-based website builders, many business owners prefer to create their websites rather than hire a professional developer to build the site for them.

Template-based sites are created using a pre-made set of HTML or CSS web pages. Many beginners can use a WordPress, Wix, or Shopify site with templates to DIY their website quickly for a relatively low price. 

Of course, these template sites lack much of the customizability and flexibility that many professional and corporate projects need, so template-based sites aren't for everyone. That's when you'll likely want to hire a web development company to help make your vision a reality.

Web development companies cover a wide range of specialties. We'll explain three common types of web dev companies below.

Custom Website Solutions 

A custom website is built from scratch according to your preferences, without a template. This process is much more complex and requires a significant budget and time allocation. However, custom websites can be much more versatile and quickly meet your needs—especially if you're a big company.

eCommerce Agencies 

eCommerce agencies specialize in developing online shops, which can either be custom-built or integrated into your existing website.

The eCommerce site development process is highly complex and time-consuming since an online store has many moving parts and is especially prone to bugs. These agencies are experienced in everything to do with online retail, from a shopping cart and product catalogue to a CRM-online marketplace integration.

Full-Service Companies 

Finally, full-service companies provide development, design, mobile apps, custom features, and ongoing maintenance. This type of team is an all-in-one service that may be worth the investment for complex projects that you don't want to have to navigate on your own during post-development.

How to Choose a Web Design Company

Of course, choosing the right vendor to deliver any service goes beyond their specializations. There are many other, less tangible factors to consider when determining whether they're the right fit.

To ensure you're picking a web development company that fits your needs and preferences, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do They Fit Your Budget?

First, compare the design team's prices to your development project budget. Website design can range in cost from very cheap to an astronomical hourly price. Aside from the company's hourly or project rate, be sure to factor in the other typical costs to build a website:

  • Website domain—If you don't already own the web address for your new website, you’ll want to factor in the cost of your domain name.

  • Hosting—Most web dev teams charge for hosting your website, and prices can vary widely. Since hosting is essential for your website to be accessible to visitors at any given time, this category is not one you should cut corners on. Usually, you get what you pay for in this area.

  • Apps and integrations—How complicated will your finished website be? The more it integrates with other tools, the more expensive it can get.

  • SSL certificate—A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a small data file that establishes an encrypted link between a browser and a web server. Getting your site SSL certified shows that it is secure, essential for consumer comfort and SEO ranking purposes.

  • Ongoing support—Does the company offer post-publication maintenance and support? How much will that cost you? The cost of continuing care varies from company to company.

And of course, don't forget to budget for website-related costs after the website goes live. You'll need to invest in website content, SEO, and marketing.

2. What Are Your Goals and Expectations?

Why are you building a website in the first place? Do you want to increase sales, build your brand, or become an authority in your niche by publishing expert content?

Or perhaps you want to interact better with your customers. Maybe you already have a website, but it's clunky and ineffectual. Do you want to streamline the shopping, purchasing, and customer service process with a custom website?

Whatever your goals and expectations are for your website, make sure you know exactly what they are before approaching a web developer. That way, you'll have the language to express them to the designer, negotiate the terms of the project, and ensure they can help you reach your goals.

3. Do Your Personalities and Objectives Match?

During this project, your collaboration will be a partnership—so your personalities must be compatible. 

For example, if you'll be the main point of contact for the project, it's worth considering your preferred communication method and how that aligns with the company you're working with. If you like to check in frequently via email, it may not be wise to partner with someone who rarely answers email and prefers to speak via phone.

Make sure you know what value the web development team will add to you, as well. If your designers are building based on your ideas without contributing any creative suggestions of their own, they probably aren't the best choice. 

Check their references—such as previous clients—to ensure the web design team you're considering will be strong project partners that can contribute more than coding knowledge.

4. Is Your Timeline Compatible With Theirs?

The web design process can be highly complicated. The timeline looks slightly different from the client's perspective than from the designer's perspective. While the client needs to remain involved with each step along the way, the designer needs adequate time to research, design, map, code, and test before the launch date. 

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When talking with a design team, make sure you understand their usual process. Do they have an estimated timeline? Do their delivery dates match up with your needs and expectations?

Make sure they have an established process for planning and setting due dates—as well as a track record of following through with those dates.  

5. What Does Their Portfolio Tell You?

Check out past work they have done. What types of projects have they completed before? 

Looking at the dev team's past work can give you insight into their style and specialization. If the portfolio on their site or proposal lacks, you can also check their profile on networks like Dribbble, GitHub, or Behance.

Perhaps you're looking for a large online store, so check to see if any online stores are in their portfolio. If it seems like they specialize in something else—like boutique website design—it might be a sign that you should look elsewhere. 

Since the types of projects web development companies take on can vary, it's crucial to determine whether they have the experience and style to give you a result that matches your vision.

Things to Avoid When Looking for Web Development Companies

Suppose you have a solid list of several potential candidates that all check several of your boxes. So what are some red flags to watch out for?

  • First, make sure they don't lack web design experience. If they can't provide you with an impressive portfolio and references from past satisfied clients, you should probably look elsewhere.

  • And, of course, any indication that the dev team fails deadlines is a bad sign. If you feel that the team struggles to stay on schedule or lacks respect for due dates, run the other way.

  • Finally, a costly project estimate may be a red flag. Building websites can get extremely expensive, especially for complicated projects—but ensure the proposal contains itemized estimations, not just a hefty price tag with little to no explanation for where your money will be going.

Finding a Web Dev Team FAQ

What Kind of Website Do You Need?

The kind of website you need depends on your goals. Are you looking to establish your authority in your niche? Make sales? Generate leads? A web design company can help you determine what type of product will best meet your needs.

What Should You Tell Your Website Developer for the Best Service?

To get the most out of your development project, you should be as clear and upfront as possible. Simply saying "I need a new website" isn't going to cut it if you want the web design team to be on the same page as you.

Instead, be clear about your goals, target audience, and service needs: the more information you provide, the better.

How Do I Find the Right Web Development Company?

In 2021, a functional, user-friendly, custom website is a must for any online business. Without it, you could lose potential customers. That's why choosing a web development company isn't something to take lightly.

Finding the right web dev team for your needs is a matter of asking yourself the right questions. Do they fit your budget? Do their personalities, objectives, and timeline match yours? And what does their portfolio tell you about their expertise and style?

Of course, a decision this big might be overwhelming, even if you know the right questions to ask. Ridgebase's advisors can help you weed through the options and obstacles to find the perfect fit for your next project. Book a meeting with one of our advisors today!

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