Web design can be carried out anywhere by a web designer/web developer and this really does beg the question “is it important to choose a local web design agency.” I personally think it is but I’ll try to objective explore the advantages and disadvantages you may face in the web design process when outsourcing either locally or not.
When I started working in a marketing agency about 16 years I was very green. I was the office junior for quite a while before I started to work my way up and it wasn’t long before I was given the task of buying things, both for the business and to fulfil the jobs we had on for clients. My managing director at the time explained his thoughts on purchasing and it went something like this:
First, try to buy from someone you know. If you don’t know anyone who sells what you want then explore the local area for a supplier. If you can’t find a local supplier then try to get it as cost effectively from elsewhere.
His thought process behind purchasing was simple. If you know someone they’re more than likely to look after you and hopefully they’ll feel obliged to pass business to you. If you use a local supplier you can meet in the person which means you’ll develop a relationship, you can easily go to see them if there’s a problem and you’re helping the local area which will benefit your business in the long run. If none of these factors come into play then you might as well buy it for the lowest price you can find it for.
That has always stuck with me. And it’s something that rings true when I see the purchasing decisions people in business make. Very rarely do I see the price being the most important element of the decision making process when it comes to buying a product or service. What’s more, I’ve seen these decisions play out when business owners and marketers are choosing a web design agency to work with.
You can spend anything from hundreds of pounds through to tens of millions of pounds for a website. Most businesses are going to have to pay a few thousands of pounds for the average website from a provider in the UK. Of course, if you want to get in touch with a business in a developing country, you will be able to find a web design agency who could deliver your new website for much cheaper. But then, there are a number of reasons you should first consider a local web design agency before looking further afield.
Communicating with a web design agency
If you’re not happy with the development on your website or with its performance once it’s gone live, there’s nothing like sitting down in a room with the web agency you’re working with and coming up with a plan for how to improve things. If you’ve chosen to go with a web designer at the other side of the country or on the other side of the world you might find it more difficult to pin them down and get things sorted. And if you did chose a web design agency in a developing country then you may find the different time zones an added frustrations. I’ve tried this in the past and answering emails in the early hours of the morning and then losing a day before you receive a reply can be incredibly frustrating.
Of course, there are a number of web design agencies in places such as Bangladesh that are experts in delivering websites to UK customers. Many of these run night shifts, operating on ‘UK’ time and they generally employ account managers who speak great English. Even so, there can be some miscommunications when it comes to working with people who don’t speak English as their first language. And I would always choose web copywriters and SEO copywriters who are native English speakers.
Holding your web design agency to account
A lot of the web design projects we work on at GrowTraffic come through word of mouth and through the local networking organisations we attend and organise. So our reputation is very important to us. We are based in Rossendale in East Lancashire and Rotherham in South Yorkshire, and neither one of those locations is particularly big, with members of the business community often knowing each other and sharing their experiences.
Word travels fast and no web design agency can afford to develop a bad reputation, so it’s likely a web design agency will go that extra mile when they are working with a local business. A pro tip here: name drop some of the people know are mutually connected to and who you think the web designer might respect. This will give them a little extra incentive.
Finding a specialist web design agency
OK. There is one time you may want to choose a specialist web design agency rather than a local web design agency. In certain industries, there are very specific requirements when developing a website and it’s often the case that there are web design agencies that specialise in your industry. In those circumstances, it may be beneficial to choose the specialist, but before you do, be sure to ask them how that specialism benefits you.
I once worked in a web design agency that told everyone they were specialists in dental website design, however, in reality, there wasn’t much difference between the dental websites and the hotel websites they built. There’s nothing about the process of web design for dentists that made it any more cost-effective or streamlined a process. So be careful that you’re choosing a web design agency that genuinely specialises in your industry and not a web design agency that simply targets your industry, if it’s the latter, you might as well choose a local web design agency.
Are there any national web design agencies?
There are some national web design agencies, however, I think it’s telling that there are no national brands that really spring to mind. On top of that if you choose one of them you’re likely to get stuck with a cookie-cutter website that’s very similar to all the websites they design and build, and which don’t give you much control over what can be achieved with them. Most web design agencies will give you a bespoke solution which can be worked on by other web designers and web developers.
How web design agencies charge for websites
If you’re speaking to a web design agency about getting a price for a website, then you should only be speaking with them about the time it will take them to create the website. If you’ve got a budget this may restrict the time they can spend on the site. You should be able to ask them for a breakdown of the time each element the web design, build, development and copy will take.
That means the only price that should make a difference between web design agencies is the hourly rate. If you don’t live in a big city – where the hourly rate will be higher to reflect the higher staff and property costs – you can expect to find a web design agency with a lower hourly rate. For example we’re based in Rossendale in East Lancashire, not far from Manchester, but hourly rate is significantly lower than most web design agencies in Greater Manchester.
Choose a local web design agency that knows SEO and UX
OK, this is a bit of a shameless plug but a serious one. Whilst I would always suggest you go with a local web design agency, make sure that you choose a local web designer who has a high level of demonstrable expertise in SEO. And because user signals are increasingly becoming important for rankings you need to make sure there is a good level of forethought put into how your users experience your website and the content thereon.