8 Lead Generation Experiences of Chicago's Best Web Design Firms

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According to 10BestDesigns.com these are the top 10 web design firms in Chicago. It's a really great list of web teams that any client would be lucky to work with - the only thing we thought it was missing was an inside look at how these web design companies approach their own website. Specifically their website's contact experience (CX).

Why would we want to know that? Why does it matter if the web design company we are hiring has a well designed and well thought out contact experience?

If we're an organization whose primary objective is to get leads through our website we'll want to hire a web design firm that at the very least knows how to design their entire contact experience.

So let's take a closer look at these contact experiences and we'll ask questions like:

  • Was it well designed?
  • Does it use clear messaging?
  • Does it look approachable and engaging?
  • Is there a custom URL to easily measure leads in our Analytics?
  • Does the 'Thank You' page engage a prospective client further?
  • Does the form send our prospective client a confirmation email?

*Fastforward to the bottom to read a bit about why these criteria matter.

Today a serious advantage over the competition can be as simple as an easier, quicker, more user friendly contact or intake form.

Unfortunately, most companies embarking on a website redesign don't know how to evaluate this or even that they should.

So we personally wanted to level the playing field and examined how these leading Chicago web design companies stack up with simple pass/fail grades in 6 different areas. 

Kohactive's Contact Experience - 3/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Fail
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Fail
Email Confirmation
Fail

Below are three screenshots. The first is a zoomed out view of Kohactive's entire contact form. Followed by a more standard view of what their form looks like. Their form has a really great flow. The third screen shot shows the display message that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page

Kohactive Chicago Web Design with a Well Designed Contact Page

9 Questions - 8 Mandatory (only 3 questions featured)
Kohactive Top Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Confirmation Message - No Custom URL
Kohactive Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

 

Devbridge Group's Contact Experience - 3/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Fail
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Fail
Email Confirmation
Fail

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of DevBridge's entire contact form. Followed by the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the display message that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
Devbridge Group Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Contact Page

6 Questions - 5 Mandatory
Dev Bridge Top Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Confirmation Message - No Custom URL
Dev Bridge Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

 

Comrade's Contact Experience - 6/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Pass
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Pass
Email Confirmation
Pass

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of Comrade's entire contact form. Followed by a screenshot of the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the custom 'Thank You' page that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
Comrade Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Contact Page

11 Questions - 5 Mandatory
Comrade Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Custom 'Thank You' Page & URL
Comrade Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

 

AKTA's Contact Experience - 5/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Pass
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Fail
Email Confirmation
Pass

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of AKTA's entire contact form. Followed by the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the display message that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
AKTA Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Contact Page

6 Questions - 5 Mandatory
AKTA Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Custom 'Thank You' Message - No Content to Engage Further
AKTA Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

 

EDUCO's Contact Experience - 6/6

Please feel free to take our contact form for a test drive and leave us your comments for each of the following.

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Pass
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Pass
Email Confirmation
Pass

Online contact forms are not rocket science they just need to work. Our team has taken the time to think about this experience and we'll continue to refine it.

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of our entire contact form. Followed by the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the custom 'Thank You' page that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
EDUCO: Best Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Lead Generation Contact Experience

6 Questions - 1 Mandatory
EDUCO: Best Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Lead Generation Contact Form

Custom 'Thank You' Page & URL
EDUCO: Best Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Lead Generation Contact Thank You Page

 

Usman Group's Contact Experience - 5/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Pass
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Pass
Email Confirmation
Fail

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of Usman Group's entire contact form. Followed by the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the custom 'Thank You' page that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
Usman Group Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Contact Page

5 Questions - 5 Mandatory
Usman Group Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Custom 'Thank You' Page & URL
Usman Group Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

 

Fueled's Contact Experience - 4/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Pass
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Fail
Email Confirmation
Fail

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of Fueled's entire contact form. Followed by the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the custom 'Thank You' page that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
Fueled Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Contact Page

10 Questions - 5 Mandatory
Fueled Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Custom URL & Thank You Message - No Content to Engage Further
Fueled Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

 

Orbit Media's Contact Experience - 5/6

Well Designed
Pass
Clear Messaging
Pass
Approachable & Engaging
Pass
Trackable URL Structure
Pass
Engaging 'Thank You' Page
Pass
Email Confirmation
Fail

Below are three screenshots. The first is a view of Orbit Media Studio's entire contact form. Followed by the error message that displays if a visitor does not fill out every field. The third screen shot shows the custom 'Thank You' page that a visitor sees after they submit a form. 

Contact Page
Orbit Media Chicago Web Design Firm with a Well Designed Contact Page

7 Questions - 5 Mandatory
Orbit Media Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Contact Page Screenshot

Custom 'Thank You' Page & URL
Orbit Media Top Chicago Web Design Firm - Thank You Page Screenshot

The Contact Experience Can Be Improved

When you look at, evaluate and use hundreds of contact forms each year you quickly begin to see that hands down, the contact experience is the most phoned in aspect of a website.

The good news is that we don't have to change the game with our form, but if we could just satisfy these 6 baseline requirements we would help ensure that we consistently leave a strong first impression on each prospective client that comes through our website. 

Using the 6 criteria we used to evaluate website contact experiences (CX) - our findings tend to be pretty reflective of the trends you'll see in any industry:

  1. 25% of companies have an incomplete CX (Kohactive 3/6, DevBridge 3/6)
  2. 50% have a near complete CX (Fueled 4/6, Orbit 5/6, AKTA 5/6, Usman Group 5/6)
  3. 25% have a complete CX (Comrade 6/6, EDUCO 6/6)

If you have any insight about standardizing the contact experience we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Contact Experience Criteria Breakdown

Good Design

While the argument for "what is good design" can be a bit subjective, investing in good design is a very profitable endeavor. Good design is why companies like:

  • Apple paid $500,000 to build an "awesome" informational website about the new Mac Pro.
  • Facebook paid $1 Billion for Instagram (that price tag was not just for the app, Facebook also wanted the first class design team that came along with the acquisition).
  • Hotels Tonight believes that their competitive advantage could be an easy booking experience they designed for their visitors to book a hotel with three taps and one swipe (incidentally they have 11 million users). A combo of this thinking and their well designed app interface has secured them $35 million dollars in funding.

Each of the web design companies we looked at in this post have some skilled designers and developers on their bench as evident by their nice looking web forms. Its a good idea to find a team with a general style you like, but most web agencies can accomplish a variety of styles and options.

Clear Messaging

The clearer our call to action the easier we make it for visitors to take the next step with us. Many websites seem to almost get in the way of their visitor by using complex or vague language when clear, simple words will do. Its best to make things easier on the visitor even if it requires a little more time or thought from us in the upfront.

Approachable Technology

Kohactive had one of the more robust forms in terms of number of fields and questions. However, since it was designed really well and presents only a few fields at a time it looks really engaging and easy to use. If you require a lot of information that's fine, but think about collecting it in steps or after you have gotten all of the essentials.

You might be thinking "by making it easier to submit a contact form won't we end up getting a bunch unqualified leads". Perhaps. This could result in a little more work for your the sales team, but we need to balance our goal to get leads with our visitors desire to quickly and easily complete their tasks. This is not a one sided relationship we're trying to build.

Anticipating Measurement

If a company is not using a custom URL that does not necessarily mean that they are not tracking leads, but it does suggest that they might not have a consistent way of tracking leads year over year (YOY). Why does that matter? Most clients don't know that a big part of building a website is making sure that it's standardized, scalable and transferable.

We want to be able to compare performance metrics YOY without having to cobble together data from previous year(s) and multiple data sources. We also want to be able to bring in new team members or have roles change and allow any new team members to step in and join the conversation of our website's performance.

Good Manners

Saying "Thank You" is just good manners. We got our visitor to send us their contact info. This is the first handshake in an ongoing conversation that we hope to end in a new project for our team, right? Let's show them how grateful we are by giving them some of our most helpful content on the Thank You page that is aimed at objectively helping them sift through the decision that lays before them.

Let's show each client that we'll thoughtfully listen to them by demonstrating that we've been listening to all the previous prospective clients and that we know what their thinking before they even ask.

On the "Thank You" page we can offer suggestions, and have options available for them to give us more info, or even demonstrate that we care enough to imagine what questions we would have if we were about to spend money on our own company's products/services. If we're not working to build trust on our own website and nurture our potential relationships we're doing it wrong.

Confirmation Messages

Letting leads know that their email was received and that they will be contacted is crucial and can be easily automated through a website. Not sending an email confirmation can leave users wondering: did my inquiry go through, maybe the contact form broken, is there something wrong with me?

Don't make users experience self doubt. It would also be a good idea to test your contact form experience at least once a month to make sure everything is running smoothly.

About the Author

Marty Vernon

Marty is Co-founder/Strategic Director at EDUCO. Connect with Marty on , , or Google+