Finding website designers in this day and age isn’t difficult, but finding the BEST web designers near you for your particular website design project can feel like a bit of a mine field.
In this article we’re going to give you our top recommendations (as a UK web design company ourselves) on how you can carry out some detailed research to find the best web design company or freelancers near you in your local area.
We’ll also give you some pointers on what you should look out for and what you should ask to ensure you select the best website designer near you for your specific requirements.
1. Should I hire a website design agency or a freelancer web designer near me?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself. Do you want to work with a freelance web designer or an agency? There are pros and cons for both, so let’s look at some of them below.
Working with a freelance web designer will typically be cheaper than working with an agency, but it can be much more hit and miss to find a freelance web designer who is talented, experienced and also reliable.
An agency will have slightly higher fees, but the benefit of this is that you’re getting access to a team of specialists with a proven track record of success.
Communication during a web design project is really critical. You need to know where your project is at and how it is progressing.
Generally speaking, a web design agency will have a project manager or a dedicated contact who you’ll have access to during your project (and afterwards too) so you can be sure any queries, questions or comments are picked up in a timely way without having to wait days.
With a freelance web designer communication can sometimes be a little more sporadic as they become busier at certain times with multiple projects on the go.
Pick a web designer based on best match for your goals
It’s all about whats right for you and your businesses goals.
If budget is really critical, you don’t mind possible delays and you are happy to dedicate quite a bit of time to your own project, then a freelancer could be a good option.
If you have a tight deadline, you appreciate quick efficient communication and you want a little more reliability and that professional “done-for-you” approach, then an agency is the right way to go.
A wider skill set
Another important consideration is that working with a small web design agency will likely give you access to a much wider range of skills. Skills not only when it comes to designing and building your website, but also the digital marketing skills that are essential after your site is up and running.
Many freelance web designers move project to project, so once your website is up and running the aftercare can suffer.
They may also only specialise in the initial website build and not even offer the add-on services you need to market your website – SEO, content creation, Google Ads (PPC) etc.
Do local web designers matter to you?
Finding a web designer that is actually near you may not matter to you.
The benefit to working with a web designer near you is that you can easily arrange face-to-face meetings, so if this is important to you, then finding a local web designer is imperative.
However, if you’re quite confident and comfortable with face-to-face meetings being conducted on Zoom then consider opening up your search to a wider area.
2. How do I find website designers near me?
So how do you find website designers near you?
It’s actually really easy to get overwhelmed due to the sheer volume of freelance web designers and web design agencies out there these days.
Start with Google
The best starting point is Google. Type in a query like “web designers in X” (X being your location) or “web designers near me” and start taking a look at their websites.
Which ones stand out? Which message resonates with you?
We’ll get into more of the specifics to look out for in the next section of this article.
Ask for recommendations
It’s more than likely that people in your business network can make some recommendations on who they’ve worked with in the past and who they’ve had a great experience working with.
Reach out to your network and see if they can point you in the right direction. A recommendation is worth so much credibility.
Look at Google reviews
If you can’t get recommendations or any clear steer from your own business contacts, then Google reviews is the next best place to look and we’d generally recommend checking these out anyway.
To find a web designers Google reviews, search for their company name in Google and on the right hand side of the search results, they’ll be a featured snippet box with their business details. Here you can see their star rating and click to read reviews from their past clients.
3. What to specifically look for in a website designer?
Okay! So now that you’ve found some web designers near you, you need to make a shortlist of the web designers best suited to your goals and project requirements.
It can be quite confusing if you haven’t got any experience in selecting web designers, so here’s what we would recommend looking out for when browsing each website and making that all important first contact.
A strong portfolio
After perusing the web designers own website you’ll want to head over to their portfolio or case study section.
Take a look at the projects they are showcasing and see whether they are simply showing off the work, or whether they are explaining the problems the client had and how they actually solved them.
Do they talk about the results they achieved for their client too, in terms of increased sales, increased traffic to the website, a lower bounce rate etc?
A clearly defined process
Process is everything when it comes to a successful web design project. There are many moving parts, so a tried and tested process ensures success.
When you browse the web designers website, look out for information about the stages your project will go through. Does it look clear and straight-forward?
Top tip: jump back to the companies Google reviews or the testimonials on their website. Do their reviews and client testimonials talk about the process and do they comment on how good it was? If so, you know you’re onto a winner!
Does the web designer ask good questions?
When you make initial contact with freelancers or web design agencies take a look at how they respond. Are they asking good questions to try and drill down into the specifics of your project and understand what it is that you want to achieve?
Or conversely, do they take a long time to come back to you? Are they not keen on picking up the phone?
Communication during a project is really important so the communication at this early stage should be spot on to give you a taste of whats to come if you work with that company.
Knowledge of SEO a must
Designing and building a website is all well and good, but there WILL come a time when you want to drive more traffic to it strategically – even if that isn’t on your radar right now – so search engine optimisation (SEO) is a really important skill.
It will save you a big job if the freelance web designer or agency you work with has experience with SEO and with getting results for their clients through great Google rankings.
Top tip: when scouting out designers or companies ask them about their experience with SEO and find out what kind of packages they offer.
Some freelancers or agencies may try and ask you to sign a 12 month contract for this kind of SEO work, so make sure you find someone a little more flexible (3 month SEO commitments are common) so all this is on the table before you commit to working with them for your project.
Experience of your industry
This one isn’t essential, but it does help if the web designer or agency you select has worked in your industry before.
If they have, then you’ll likely not have to take quite so much time explaining all the nuances of your industry and as they’ve produced websites for other clients in your sector, they can likely make very good recommendations about what is and isn’t working for those clients, so you can get the benefit of their experience working on these past projects too.
Web development expertise for scaling your project
When you have a new website built, you want it to last. If it’s a bespoke website that has been beautifully designed, built on a great foundation and well maintained, then there is no reason why your site can’t last for 5 years or even more.
During that time you will want to change things about your website or add new functionality – perhaps a booking system, a customer portal or maybe you’ll want to create a members only area?
Can that freelance web designer or web design agency offer custom web development and help you scale and grow your website?
Contract & insurance
Always ask the web designers you contact whether they have a contract and ask to see a sample up front.
Be wary of freelancers or agencies who don’t use contracts.
Top tip: Don’t see contracts as a negative – in fact they are a positive as they set expectations, deliverables and milestones for your project.
We would also recommend that you ask to find out whether the web designer you are considering working with has professional indemnity insurance. Many freelancers won’t both with this, but it’s important to know that the outfit you are working with has all the necessary insurances in place too.
4. What information does my web designer need?
So now that you’ve done (or are doing) your research, you’ll want to be one step ahead of the game and start preparing everything your web designer will need to ensure a swift start on your project.
What are your website goals?
These goals should naturally come out in conversation with your web designer, but we would recommend creating a detailed brief, being as open and transparent about the goals for your project as you can be.
A detailed brief with this kind of information will make your web designers day and form a great starting point for discussions.
Within your brief it’s really helpful if your web designer can see examples of other websites you like.
Spend some time looking at other sites in your industry and other websites in general to see if there are some whose ‘look and feel’ you would like to emulate with your new website.
Don’t go overboard – three or four links is enough – your web designer can then get a really good steer on what styles you like.
Set a realistic budget
Our advice is to not be coy about your budget.
There are MANY ways to go about building a website, so if you only have £2,000 available for example, it’s better to be upfront about it early on and see if the web designer can work within this budget. If not, let them explain why and if you can’t move forward, no problem.
Professional, bespoke web design projects aren’t cheap. If you want a successful website with everything included to ensure success (easy to manage content, Google optimised, mobile friendly, rock-solid hosting, digital marketing etc), then you need to be realistic with your budget.
A web design project (depending on the complexity) can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months to design and build, so keep in mind the number of man-hours it takes.
Your web designer will need some things from you in order to get your project underway, so to be super prepared you should start preparing these as early as possible.
Using a cloud storage platform like Dropbox or Google Drive start collating and gathering your company logo files, any photography assets you would like included and start preparing the content for each page of your website too.
Think about structure
The structure of your website needs to be agreed upon and this will be one of the first conversations you have when you make contact with web designers.
For that reason, if you’re ahead of the game and have already produced a “sitemap” showing all the pages and sections your website should have, it will get the conversation started.
Need help writing a web design brief?
Writing a web design brief is the best way to organise all the information relating to your project, and it will also allow you to get accurate proposals back quickly from the web design companies your reach out to.
If you need help writing a web design brief, check out our article “How To Write A Web Design Brief“, complete with a free MS Word template for you to use.
Our web design services
At authenticstyle we’re a very small agency so we sit nicely in between freelance web designers and large web design agencies.
Here are some of the reason why we think we’re an excellent choice:
We’ve been designing and building bespoke websites and e-commerce solutions for over 12 years now, so we’ve got a considerable amount of experience.
As well as designing and building top quality websites, we also offer the add-on services you would expect (like search engine optimisation) so you can work with us for all your digital marketing needs.
We exclusively use WordPress as the platform to build websites with.
WordPress is a fantastic solution for your website because it’s scalable, it makes managing and editing your content extremely easy. And, finally its “open-source”. This means you aren’t stuck if you decide you want to work with another web designer in the future.
Many larger web design agencies have their own platforms which mean you are totally stuck if you ever want to work with another company moving forward, or they go bust.
Our clients recommend us
Our client testimonials and Google reviews are testament to the fact that we have a rock-solid process and that we’re very easy to work with. Take a look at our case studies for more information.
We provide aftercare
Anther really important but often overlooked point is that we offer website management and maintenance services once your website is live.
This is so important as it ensures that your website is as secure as it can be and also means its life is lengthened too.
So, summing up…
We hope this article has helped on your quest to find the best web designers near you, and given you some great pointers on what to look out for.
Looking to redesign your website without the hassle?
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! If you’re keen to speak to us about your own website design project, then please give Will a call on 01747 852298 or get in touch via our contact form. We look forward to finding out how we can help you!
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