When it’s time to revamp your website, should you hire the best local web design company or one from outside your area? Thanks to technology, we can work with anyone across the globe. However, many businesses prefer to contain their search to their metro area or state for the advantages local web design companies. While there are pros and cons to working with agencies both near and far, here are some reasons you might want to hire a local interactive agency.
Experience with the local culture
For businesses with a local customer base, who better to choose than a local web design company that intimately knows what your customers are like? A local agency will have direct experience of who you want to shop in your store, what’s important to them, how they speak, and the overall culture in your area.
Knowledge of the local business environment
The point is that local web design companies understand what you’re up against. They can more easily factor in your local business climate and marketing activities. Rather than rely on online research to get to know you, they have direct knowledge of your local competitors, how they differentiate themselves, and why they are successful (or not successful!).
You might be wondering about people who search for you online. An agency with a successful track-record in localized SEO strategy will deliver very specific local search results for a stronger online presence, higher website traffic, and more foot traffic.
As if that’s not enough, a local agency can help you expand your network through their involvement with local business and industry groups, events and activities, media and PR connections, and customer connections.
Personal interaction with your web design company
How can you best understand what an agency is like? As we’ve experienced over the last few years, it’s easy to do business online with vendors anywhere in the world. But there’s nothing like meeting in person to build rapport. Sitting together in a convenient location can spur conversations about local opportunities and challenges.
On a more personal side, visiting the web designer’s office reveals more of their personality and what their team is like in action. You may also form a closer business relationship when you can shake hands, hear real laughter, and even get a casual cup of coffee in a local shop.
Supporting other local businesses
We can agree that brick-and-mortar stores take a licking from Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and other gigantic e-retailers. Here’s where you can do a lot of good. There are likely high-quality web design agencies near you, especially if your business is in a major metro area such as Boston. Locally based web designers feel the heat of competing with large, national marketing agencies. When you hire the right local interactive agency, you support the local economy.
How do I identify the best local web design company for my business?
Now that we’ve talked about the WHY of hiring a local website design company, let’s talk about how. Here are six methods for compiling a list of reputable local agencies:
- Do a Google search for the terms: web designers near me, local web designers, or local web designers near me. Some sites will offer reviews from clients and partners of these agencies.
- Search LinkedIn Companies using filters including Locations, Industry, and Company Size. Here’s a how-to page.
- View the listings on your local Chamber of Commerce website or call to ask for recommendations.
- Look on ratings and review platforms, including Clutch.co, which specializes in IT, marketing and business providers, and Expertise.com, which reviews top local service professionals in over 200 industries.
- Find websites you like. You may be able to find the site’s designer in the website footer, metatag near the top of the site, css file, or by calling the company and asking who designed their site.
- Ask your peers, friends, and colleagues if they can recommend a high-quality web design agency in your area.
Factors to consider for a local web design company search
You’ll quickly discover that web design companies come in all shapes and sizes, offer different services, and have distinct corporate personalities. You’ll need to find one that suits your project requirements, business practices, and company culture.
Here are factors that will help you understand and evaluate local agencies:
Web design agency size and capabilities
How large are they, and do they have the resources to handle your project? You may want a boutique experience with a smaller company or a more “managed” experience with a large company. The range of services they offer can vary widely. Determine your needs and find out their capability and expertise in each area.
Service offerings may include front-end web design, back-end development, SEO, social media, email marketing, online advertising, content development, marketing expertise, and post-launch services (hosting, tracking, reporting, analysis, maintenance and support, and ongoing consulting on a retainer basis). You may want to ask if these activities are performed by in-house staff, freelancers, or outside consultants. If agency resources are dispersed, explore how they work together as a team to provide integrated services.
When contacting an agency, pay attention to how quickly they respond to your initial inquiry, how they answer your questions, if they are good listeners and communicators, and what the sales experience is like. Perhaps most importantly, did you enjoy meeting with them and talking about your business? If the answers to these questions are negative, turn in the other direction.
Expertise and experience with other local companies
Expertise and experience aren’t necessarily the same. The truth is that no agency can be all things to all people. Here are the types of decisions and risks you may face:
A large, fully resourced “general marketing” company versus a small, niche, industry-focused interactive agency that needs to outsource
Integration of Services
An in-agency designer with less technical expertise versus a freelance designer with greater technical skills
Young designers who may offer fresher sensibilities versus mature agency staff who have gained the marketing expertise to help you evolve.
A busy executive overseeing the project versus a middle level designer who is more available.
A locally-based web agency with community involvement versus a multi-office “vanilla” agency that can help with potential geographic expansion. Alternatively, you may decide it’s all about proven results. You trust the value of what the key players bring to the table. The agency’s track record demonstrates they have what it takes to make you successful.
The point is that each agency will have different strengths and relative weaknesses. Your job is to set priorities, ask the right questions, and determine which agency can best meet your needs.
Successfully collaborating with your web design vendor requires agreeing on workstyle and processes. For example, do you prefer giving marching orders or a more collaborative experience? Are you used to formal procedures or a less structured approach? How do you like to communicate about plans, progress, and results? Do you like dealing with several team members or a dedicated point of contact?
Always, always discuss the issues above if you want your website project to be a fun and rewarding experience. If these matters are left undecided, your project is much more likely to end up in chaos, annoyance, or disappointment down the road.
Platforms and technical involvement
A workstyle preference that deserves its own section is how much involvement the client wants in website management and upkeep. Your desired level of involvement will inform the choice of website platform and how to build the site for DIY capabilities.
With a balance of price, capabilities, and ease-of-use, most SMBs websites—and many enterprise companies—are built on WordPress or another CMS (content management system). platform. These sites can be as simple or complex as desired, making it appropriate for both hands-off clients and those who want greater day-to-day responsibilities, such as editing text, managing SEO, and swapping images. .
Hands-on clients can sit face-to-face with their web designer about which platform, template, and design elements are best based on the breakdown of agency/client responsibilities–with the flexibility to remove or add client tasks in the future. A sit-down session makes it easy to demonstrate how to correctly do tasks, give advice on what NOT to do, and coordinate any desired changes in the website management process.
There’s a website design company for every budget. To save time, determine your budget before you undertake your search. Interactive agencies don’t rely on them as a source of business–with the possible exception of vying for very large accounts.
It’s time to hire your Boston-area local web design company.
After scouting local agencies for consideration, choose your top three to five contenders to interview. Bear in mind which business and personal factors are most important to you and your organization. Businesses in the Boston-area should consider Ladybugz, an award-winning, full-service interactive agency that focuses on web design and digital marketing services, mainly for B2B industries such as biotech, non-profit, education, construction, professional services and manufacturing.