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How to Choose the Right Website Design Company

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The days of having your friend or a family member put your website together are over. In today’s digital age, a website is more than an online brochure; your website should actively help bring customers in, which is done through SEO, pay per click and an effective sales path once the customer lands on the website.

It can be too hard to keep up with by yourself, which is why finding the right partner in a website design company is so important, says Jason Dupree, owner of Xtreme Auto Collision in Raleigh, N.C. Dupree was one of those shop owners with a static website that he was unhappy with and, roughly two years ago, decided he needed to make a change and find a website design company that could not only help him take his business to the next level, but also act as a partner and advisor.

After a thorough search, Dupree found a company that has helped create a website and online presence that has dramatically increased traffic in the shop, which is located on an off-the-beaten-path road and relies on online exposure for continued growth.

as told to Anna Zeck

When the Internet started taking off, I had a family friend throw together a website for us. It was really super basic. Basically I reserved a name and he put something together. It was kind of embarrassing how basic it was. It wasn’t responsive and it didn’t help differentiate us. One day I realized, I want to grow this business and it’s time to get with someone who is experienced. I don’t know very much about computers, so I knew that I wouldn't be able to do it on my own.

First, I started brainstorming about what I wanted. I knew I wanted better search engine optimization and Internet exposure, and I wanted to be able to show our capabilities of what our team can do.

I also met with my office manager beforehand to determine our budget. She told me the current marketing budget was roughly $500–$600 a month and that we needed to stay within that. It’s important to note that that includes all digital marketing, including social media, SEO and pay per click.

Next, I started doing research. When I’m interested in something, I will go to other websites that are similar businesses to mine or talk to other business owner friends. If I know of a company that is doing really well, I’ll go look at their website. It started with getting ideas for a layout. There’s a company down the street from me that does mechanical work. The staff there has a really thriving business, and they work on a lot of high-end vehicles and have a very similar business to mine. Their website was impressive. I scrolled to see who made the page for them and wrote down the name.

Once I had a list, I started researching those companies. I looked at their portfolios. You want to see if the presentation of their websites are similar to what you’re looking for. I then contacted them and talked to them on the phone. Computers aren't a field I’m strong in, so I wanted to make sure they could make me feel comfortable and explain everything patiently.

Some of the questions I asked during that time were:

  • How can you help me grow?
  • What is the benefit of me choosing you over a different website company?
  • What is your specialty?
  • What is your process and what is the typical turnaround time?
  • Do your clients see an ROI?
  • Does the price include making a mobile-friendly site?
  • Can I customize the site?
  • Do you offer technical support?
  • Can you provide a list of references?

To be honest, those conversations were very illuminating. Some of the companies couldn't answer the questions and I knew it wasn't going to work. They didn't act interested in building a page for me, or they wanted a ridiculous amount of money. The company I work with, however, was a match from the start. They made me feel comfortable, they listened to my suggestions and they offered their own. They had concrete ways that they could help grow exposure and drive more foot traffic in the door.

Next, they asked me some questions and put together some samples. They were 100 percent open to my suggestions. They didn't mandate what I needed to do and they let me customize everything. I told them what I was looking for, they took notes and then created a site that was very personal and informative. I had a good gut feeling and that's ultimately what sold me.

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