Hiring a web design firm can be a daunting task. You may find yourself with a limited budget, down to the wire on a project, or cleaning up someone else's mess, so getting it right out of the gate is crucial. While I've never found myself in your exact situation, over the past 9 years I've had the privilege of:
- Seeing how great working relationships get formed with web design clients
- Getting to build a really great web design team that was named, by Clutch.co, one of the top Drupal Firms in the World and one of the top Web Design Firms in Chicago
- Helping to teach our clients how to measure their website's performance
Based on my experience, I have found that when I take the time to do the following activities with potential vendors it has resulted in a positive outcome:
Find a Team With a Style You Like
It's important to connect with a team/individual that does nice work and has a style you like. Granted style can be a bit subjective - its important because the company you hire is going to have to design a digital interpretation of your brand. It's also worth noting that if you don't have a well defined brand it may require more time to nail down and agree on your website brand guidelines.
Make Sure This Team Cares About Their Reputation
Building a strong reputation takes years to develop and a team that cares about their reputation it's fair to say that they know how to treat their clients. Of all the things to consider this is the one that no vendor can fake.
Speak with Current or Previous Clients
Make sure to speak with client references. There is no better prediction of how a vendor will treat you than to speak with other clients they have serviced or are currently servicing. Also, check for 3rd party client interviews on Clutch.co (if they happen to be a creative or tech company)
Find a Team with Passion
How to know if someone is passionate about their work? They'll want to show it off and it's usually a way to get some free insights into how they think and work.
Time doesn't always afford us this option, but if you have the time try and find a way to start on a small initiative together. Starting with something small is a great way to test drive them and to get a feel for what it will actually be like to do a full blow project.
If you have the option, it's always best to take the time to let an unknown person/company reveal their true self and not just their idealized representation of who they think you want them to be. Certainly time does not always exist to do each of these activities, but doing a little more work in the up front is definitely better than wasting time and money on a failed or sub-par project.