How to choose a web design company to build your website

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So by now you have started your business, created your business plan, did the marketing research and the many other things required to have a successful business. Great! Now is the time to think about your website. If you don’t know how to design one you most certainly need to use the services of a web design company. But with so many companies around, how can you be sure what they offer is right for you?

The main purpose of this article is to show you some details about the technology available for building websites and its pros & cons.

Basically web design companies operate in two distinct platforms when building a website; Proprietary & Open Source.

Now let me explain both platforms and give you some important details and I hope you can then decide which one you should choose.

Proprietary:

Companies that have their own bespoke software (Developed by their own in-house staff or leased from a third party) are very common and offers very few pros and a lot of cons. Let me give you some more details: When a company design a website using their own bespoke software basically you are just leasing the website, you don’t actually own it. The company has the exclusive rights to the software so no one else can work on it apart from their own staff members. Let’s say you contracted a company to build the website with proprietary software, everything went well at the beginning but down the track the company start to let you down, their customer service is not that good anymore, they have increased their hourly rate for updates and hosting, basically there is no much you can do to fight these crazy increases in price. You can’t just go to a different company or to a freelancer because they own the platform where the website was built therefore no other company can help you with changes and updates.  There are some exceptions when a company uses third party software so in this case different companies can work with the same platform.

For the company it’s a very lucrative business model once you have to use them exclusively but for you it’s not so good. Imagine you having to stick to the same phone company to your entire life even tho there are few other companies that offer better services for a fraction of the price. It does not make sense at all. You should have the power to change and take your business to the best direction without relying in a third party provider.

Open Source:

Is a term used for free software available to anyone and any individual is free to add and edit it to any specific requirement. Companies that build websites using open source software like WordPress.org, Drupal, Joomla!, Prestashop, Magento, OpenCart, etc..are in my opinion the best choice and I will tell you why. In the opposite to the example given above where you don’t own your website but just lease it from the web design company, with open source software you actually own it. The website is yours, all the files belongs to you, if you are not happy with the company that first built your website you can easily ditch them and find another company to work on it or even a freelancer that can be based overseas. Think of it like freedom, you can go anywhere and you can do anything you wish with it. Millions of people and companies around the world have their websites built on open source software, especially WordPress that is by far the most popular.

Open source software follows a universal standard so people from around the world can work together and contribute to the same project when required. Anyone specialized in WordPress can work on a particular website even if there are based in a different country like India, Brazil, Canada or France.

You also have the freedom to decide about the hosting company for your website. There are so many good hosting companies around with excellent price according to your requirements so it pays off to do some research.

I hope this article can be of some help to you for when deciding on a web design company to build your website.

Here are few things you should ask them before signing the contract:

1)      Ask if they are open source or proprietary

2)      If open source, ask in which platform the website will be built at: WordPress, Joomla, Prestashop, etc…

3)      If proprietary, ask what are the limitations of the software like ecommerce capabilities, CMS (Content management system), etc…I might have big plans for the future but sometimes the software will not allow it due limitations.

4)      Ask for initial costs, incurring cost for updates, hosting, domain, backup, copy writing, etc…

5)      Check for timing for maintenance and future updates. You might need to do a urgent update and you don’t want to wait a week for them to apply the changes on the website

6)      Check if they will provide you with website analytics (Google Analytics is the best)

7)      Check if they design their websites with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind

8)      Have a look at the web design company portfolio and see if you like their style

9)      Check for referrals and testimonials

Let me know if you had any good or bad experience related to choosing a web design company, you can even list them on the comments section below. I would love to hear your experience.

 

Author: Francis Silvestre – Founder of Pixely

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