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The Value of Hiring A Web Design Agency

It’s a common scenario around the web design and development community, a client comes to you with a problem, either they need a new website or their current site is broken, and they expect the solution to be simple, quick and cheap. Because, you know, “how hard can it be to just throw a site together?”

When the client’s nephew taught himself how to make websites at 15, or their neighbor offers to make one for $500, it’s difficult to justify the high price tag that comes with hiring an agency when you don’t really understand what makes their websites different. It’s not necessarily that an amateur web designer can’t make a beautiful website, it’s that the design of a website is only one part of the whole experience.

But rather than go on and on about how much the design community is under appreciated, I want to help you understand the value that an agency (or experienced freelancer) can bring to your business.

Branding

Let’s start with the basics. Take off your blinders and evaluate your brand with a fresh perspective. Or even better, ask strangers to evaluate your brand. It’s incredibly common for companies to start off with poor branding, mostly because their purpose hasn’t completely been defined yet.

Logo

A logo is a way for a brand to build instant recognition and authority. It should convey the key characteristics of your company and be a trust symbol for your customers. Designers are taught to understand what makes a logo memorable – how different techniques and colors will inflict different subconscious emotions.

Furthermore, we know how to create a logo that will work well for your brand on any platform. One of the most common problems that I see with companies who come to us is that they don’t understand how their logo is actually working against them. Intricate details and catchphrases won’t show up well on a digital platform. Your logo needs to be scalable, readable and recognizable at any size, whether it’s on print or the web.

Another important element that you may not have thought of is how many times logos seem to be reused. Companies are accidentally copying other people’s logos all the time, which can be an embarrassing mistake you don’t want to make.

Color & Typography

Color and typography choices are two more very important factors that can make or break a brand. If you’re picking out brand colors yourself, note that it’s a good rule to try and stick to only using three colors – one of them being your primary color and the other two as accents. Also, don’t ignore the color wheel. The term “complimentary colors” exists for a reason.

When it comes to typography, if you’re going to be picking out typefaces on your own, then do some research on the history of fonts and how they are meant to be used. Ideally, you will want to pick out one display and one body typeface. And at all costs, avoid using dated (and awful) typefaces such as Papyrus and comic sans.

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Copywriting

Copywriting is probably the most difficult task to start when doing a redesign. It’s so easy to write in great length and detail about your company and the great products you sell. However, writing content for a website is extremely different than writing for a blog or even an advertisement.

The plus side? No one is better at talking about your company than you are. The down side? No one is better at talking about your company than you are. A web designer understands how to take your content and reword it to help the user flow of a page, but they won’t know how to describe the little details that make your company great. Before starting work with a web designer, do an evaluation of the writing on your website and compare it to other competitor sites. Does your content flow like theirs? If you have lengthy text, do you really think your users will want to read all of it? Get to the point, but keep it simple.

Photography

Photography can (literally) make or break a website. Poor lighting and weird angles can turn even the most beautiful designs into a dated and unprofessional website. If you’re thinking about a redesign, really critique your photos from an outsider perspective. Are some your photos blurry? Are the photo sizes consistent and proportionate to the layout? Also, if your website takes a long time to load, it could be an indication that your photos are too big and they need to be scaled and optimized.

User Experience

User experience of a website may not make a ton of sense to someone new to the industry.; however you can think of it as a silent, but extremely-wealthy business partner. A website with good user experience will turn out results because it was designed to deliver the users the content they want.

According to a report by The Gomez, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. With our attention span getting lower and lower, users need to be able to find the information they are looking for the moment they arrive at a website. So what does that mean for businesses? It means you absolutely have to have a complete understanding of your customer base, your personas. Who they are, what their challenges are and, most importantly, why they are coming to you. From my experience, when business owners are asked this question they hardly ever have an answer.

To learn more about implementing UX into your design, read our post 7 Simple User Experience Rules to Follow.

catch22 ux design

Optimize for Mobile

The day has basically come and gone where you can get away with just making a website responsive. Mobile users are 5x more likely to abandon a website and look somewhere else if the site isn’t optimized for mobile. This means that the mobile-first mindset is more important than ever.

For important mobile tips to improve conversion rates, check out our blog 22 Tips for Creating an Unforgettable Mobile Site.

SEO

With over 93% of online experiences beginning with a search engine, it’s vital for your business to understand how to do SEO right. If your company’s website isn’t showing up in the first page of search engine results for your product, then you can only imagine the amount of sales you may be missing out on.

Marketing Strategy

I have found that companies often think of their website and marketing strategy as two separate things, but they are so unbelievably wrong. Since I am new to the Twin Cities area, that means I have the headache of finding all new places to go to for the services I need. A few weeks ago, I needed to make a dentist appointment. I have received several flyers in the mail from various offices, all seeming like great options. So naturally, I decided to do a Google search to see who has the nicest office space and read reviews. Out of the ten different places I looked into around my neighborhood, only one of them had a beautifully-designed website. Most of them didn’t have a website at all. I was able to get a feel for the office space, employees and what to expect when I go there. As a bonus, they also had online form to book appointments, which is wonderful for people like me who would do anything to avoid talking on the phone with people.

I’m sure many of you have encountered a situation similar to mine, whether it’s a doctor’s office or even just trying to decide where to order dinner from. A bad website can turn people away from your company forever. It doesn’t matter how much money you put into making beautiful mailers, your website and marketing needs to work together.

Overall, it’s important for you as a business owner to understand the potential of your website and how much value hiring an agency or an experienced freelancer can bring to your business. For more information on what to consider when planning a redesign, check out our blog post on hiring an agency, and keep reading our blog every week for new tips to help your business.

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Posted by Ariel Valley

Web designer, writer, social media lover and inbound marketer at Catch22 Marketing. Also known as a professional coffee taster, shoe enthusiast and film buff. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @ariel_valley.

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