Don't just look at their portfolio, look over their entire site. If it is crappy chances are what they build for you won't be good.
How Long Have They Been In Business?
So many people think because they have a strong background in design they can own a web design company. Well design skills are only a small part of running a successful web design company.
Seeing that a company has been in business since early 2000, shows you that company will be around a lot longer. We have heard so many horror stories of people giving their deposit to a so called "Web Design Company" and after weeks of not hearing from them, they find out they have been taken for a ride.
What Are The Design Services They Offer?
When looking for a company to design your website you need to know the company you hire will be able to not only do the job you ask them to do, but they should also suggest alternatives. Maybe there is something you don't know about, your Web Design company should be able to do this, or they might not be the right company to hire.
Along with building your website can they create a matching Twitter background? Can they create an effective cover image for your Facebook page. These are 2 important elements to help extend your brand across the various social networks.
Do they offer any other types of design services? After your website is complete and launched there may be the need for graphic design services to create print material for you. Make sure the company has an understanding of the differences between what is needed for the Web and what they should do differently for print. Designing a vinyl banner has different requirements than designing an online banner.
Does The Company Offer Any Other Services?
Expanding on my previous question you should ask, does the company you look to hire offer other services like web hosting or printing, or will you have to hire another company for those services?
Hiring a company that can do it all for you is helpful in not having to call 3 different companies for these different types of services. Hiring a company that can do everything for you makes your life easier. You might need business cards, an all-in-one company already has your logo, making the turnaround time faster.
If the design firm you hire also handles your web hosting chances are they can fix any problems you might encounter with your site than a stand alone hosting company. They know how they designed your website, they know how it should function.
Do You Own the Website?
We have heard a lot of people ask us this very question, "After the site is complete, do I own it?". We have heard of some design companies telling their clients they are buying a license to use the site. That is like a contractor saying you are paying me to use the house I just built, you don't own it.
Make sure when your site is complete you get a copy of the original artwork. It doesn't matter if you do not own Photoshop or Illustrator. Having that original artwork is a great safety net if something doesn't work out with that company.
What Makes That Design Company Different?
See if there is something unique that the company does, be it a service, or something that makes them stand out from the crowd. With so many Web Design companies in business today, it might be hard to decide where you will get the best service.
Will they connect your site to Google Analytics for free after they launch your website, or are they going to charge you to do it? It's little things like this that can make a client feel good about the company they hired.
There you have it. These are the essential items you should look for when you are looking to hire a web design company to build your website.