Websites are an investment. On average, websites cost businesses $6,000—topping out at well over $15K for complex custom sites. That’s why it’s 100% necessary to hire the best website design agency from the get-go—like Charm School! Doing so will spare you countless headaches and lost money, time, and brand reputation. All you need to do is check off the following list and ask yourself the questions below. Then, you can hire a website designer with confidence, and launch something you’re super proud of.

13 Things to Consider When Searching for the Best Website Design Agency to Build Your New Website

1. Check Their References!

We get it. You’re a busy entrepreneur! But don’t cut corners when it comes to checking references and reviews. Trust us. Just going with any website designer has led many of our clients to tragedy. We’re talking thousands of dollars down the drain and months of their lives lost, kind of tragedy.

Always do your homework and check website design agency testimonials and references. Ours, for instance, are pretty stellar.

2. Review Your Website Designer’s Portfolio

Every website designer has particular strengths and aesthetics. Review their portfolio so you end up with a website that matches your business’s branding and goals. Any reputable website design agency will be happy to show you samples. Simply ask to see previous website design and development work. Doing so will help you match your business with the best designer for your needs.

3. Establish Your Website Budget

Whether you’re a start-up or established business, you need to go into your website designer hiring process with a website budget. If you want to hire a website design agency, you need at least $5,000–$8,000 to allocate to website design. Of course, a website development agency like Charm School can make the most of your budget so you get a website that works for your business.

Here’s a guide to how much websites cost in 2023, and a marketing budget guide so you don’t end up website poor and without leftover budget for monthly and ongoing marketing tactics.

4. Do you Need a Website Designer, Website Developer, or Both?

Do you need to build a new website from the ground up? Are you simply tweaking an existing theme or functionality? Do you just need to freshen up your plug-ins? Then, you might only need a website developer, a website designer—or both! Ask your website agency if they have devs and designers so you get the services you need. They are NOT one and the same.

5. What Website Functionality Do You Absolutely Need?

If you’re having issues with website budgeting, go back to basics: the absolutely non-negotiable functionality needs.

For example, does your website need an integrated customer log-in environment on the backend? Do you have to incorporate a e-commerce platform? Do you simply need a blog and core content pages? Whatever the answer, make your list of website must-haves. This way, you won’t overspend on your website or end up with something that doesn’t work the way you need it to.

6. Decide Whether You’re Building a WordPress Website, Shopify Website, Custom Website, or Another Customized Website Template.

Knowing the answer to this question will also help you determine a website budget. For instance, a custom website will cost over $10,000 whereas a customized template on WordPress or Shopify may be closer to $5,000.

Your essential website functionality and eventual goals should determine what kind of website your business needs. If you’re not sure, your website design agency will consult you to choose the best and most cost-effective option.

7. Get Everything in Writing

Before you pay for anything or hand over passwords, you need a contract! Any legit website design agency will give you a general contract as well as a statement of work. The latter outlines the exact deliverables, deadlines, and services you get with your project investment.

A list of deliverables should include the number of pages to be designed, how many rounds of revisions are included, consulting time to go over feedback, and who is in charge of sourcing or editing assets like images and video. A contract like this protects both agency and the individual and ensures you know exactly what you’re going to get for your investment.

8. Ensure Domain Name, Hosting, and CMS Ownership Belong to You

Of course, your website designer will need access to your hosting, staging environment, and CMS backend to develop your website. This involves a level of trust. However, YOU should hold the keys to the kingdom with absolute admin ownership. Many clients have come to us after website designers disappear with their credentials—and websites—leaving them without a website and the need to rebuild entirely.

Don’t ever get pressured into buying hosting from your website design agency. This is a shady tactic that prevents you from going elsewhere if you’re unhappy. Plus, you could get screwed with account access down the line. Trust us. DO NOT ever let someone else own your website’s hosting, domain name, or CMS admin rights. Charm School would never do so, and always puts the power and ownership in the hands of our clients.

9. Look for Transparency and Good Communication

You can tell a lot about a website design agency by how they talk to you—and how often. At Charm School, we always tell people to send out the search party if we don’t respond to an email within four business hours. Of course, we always reply ASAP to emails marked “URGENT” for broken websites and catastrophic marketing events. You won’t find this everywhere—especially with website developers. So, test out the waters with communication via email before you sign a contract.

10. Remember, You Get What You Pay For

Freelance website designers and developers are notoriously bad communicators and slow to respond. If you’re worried about budget, you absolutely get what you pay for. Don’t hire a freelance website developer if you value your time and marketing budget. They’ll force you to chase them around on deadlines and send multiple emails without a response.

A website design agency, on the other hand, may be a bit more expensive than a freelancer, but that comes with boutique service, a larger team of devs and designers who can always hop on a project, and constant communication. You’ll never see any chaos happening behind the curtain, just a beautiful, fully functioning website online. That’s worth its weight in gold.

11. An Affordable Website Design Agency Exists!

There are your cheap website options, like freelancers, and then your price gouging agencies that charge more than is necessary for a lovely and functional website. Don’t get caught up thinking it’s one or the other. Charm School likes to refer to ourselves as the Goldilocks Agency; we aren’t too expensive or too cheap, but just right. All so you know you’re going to get value without overpaying.

12. Think Beyond the Initial Build

Do you need supportive marketing services like blog writing, social media marketing, and SEO? Then, maybe you want to hire a full fledged digital marketing agency instead of one that only specializes in website design.

By the time you’re done with your website, you and your agency will be very familiar with your brand—and you! Keeping all of your marketing needs under one agency will streamline your workflow and save you from having to explain yourself all over again.

Charm School is a 100% woman-owned digital marketing agency, and we can help your business with everything from business consulting to branding, website design, SEO, and so much more.

13. Familiarize Yourself With Website Design and Development Terms

As a business owner, you need to have basic knowledge of everything that happens within your business—website design included! That way, you’ll know what to ask your website designer for and ensure you’re on the same page. This will cut down on wasted time and marketing budget you could lose in misunderstandings and poor communication. Here is a guide for top website design terms, and another for top website development terms to improve your knowledge.

This may be your first website rodeo, but it’s not ours! We’ve designed dozens of websites for happy clients. Get in touch to set up a free consultation with us so we can learn more about your project and how we can help. We’re versed in everything digital marketing and making your website stand out in all the right ways to your customers, clients, and/or patients.