I can’t tell you how many potential clients have come to us out of frustration with another firm or we’ve created a proposal, and ultimately weren’t chosen as the design firm for the project. Months later we were then re-approached by the very same client that learned their lesson with a bargain basement website company.
Budget, budget, budget
Yes we know it’s a huge factor, but before you choose a company to work with consider a few crucial things.
Proof is in the Puddin’
What in the heck does their body of work look like? Do they have design diversity, professionalism, creativity or even the ability to create your vision? We’ve had quite a few companies that have ended up coming back to us (and in the long run ended up spending more money then if they had originally chosen us for the project) because they were purely looking at the dollar amount and not if the company they chose could actually design.
Some clients — get this — didn’t even bother to check the design company’s portfolio and sadly in some cases the design firms they chose didn’t have a portfolio at all. This is completely baffling to me. How does a design firm expect to sell without any design examples? What’s even more shocking is a client simply taking their word for it without any creative proof.
You don’t choose to eat at a restaurant if there isn’t a menu or food being served there. The same applies to design firms.
Style is huge and does tie into the point above. Consider this, say the design firm has a portfolio, and say they have a ton of design examples, does their work look contemporary or does it wreak of when the internet was first conceived? You aren’t looking for just a programmer, you aren’t looking for a company that can just get the job done, you are looking for a design firm that not only pulls your project off but exceeds your expectations.
Our project manager compares choosing the wrong firm to getting your hair cut at a salon and your stylist has feathered Farrah Fawcett hair with 1980-something tacky highlights. Do you really think your cut will be any better? No. no it wont. Get in your Delorean stat and get with the times. If your marketing or website look dated, you look dated as a company — bottom line.
Customer Service & Communication
Everyone “says” customer service is important. They do say it. Few mean it. Communication is huge in our industry, in any industry really. The nightmare stories we’ve heard of MIA designers that disappear for weeks at a time happen more often then you’d think. You need to also get a feel for how your design firm of choice acts before the contract is signed, during the creative process and after the project is wrapped up. In order to build a long term relationship with a firm, they have to deliver at every check point along the way and more importantly be there when you need to speak to them. Our rule is same day contact typically within 30 minutes to an hour — no later than 24 hours at the very latest. Make sure your firm can guarantee solid communique.
Do Your Homework
Last thing, it all comes down to doing your due diligence, don’t jump on a company that can build your site for $500, there’s a good reason they can charge that amount and you won’t like the end result. Look beyond the numbers and find the right fit and balance between you and your future design firm.
Here’s a primo example of of our design firm loosing a project to a lower unqualified bid, the other firm ultimately couldn’t deliver anything creative and the client came back to us 2 months later because they wanted it done right. Do yourself a favor and DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you sign with a design firm.