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Choosing a design firm

Before choosing which design firm your company should choose, you company should decide what exactly you will need and what your ultimate goals are. There are thousands of design firms; some specialize in web development, others in design. But which one do you need? Maybe you don't need either, it is possible that all you need is a graphic design company to revamp your websites graphics so they look more modern.

First lets go over what exactly you need, do you need a new website or do you need to make changes to an existing site? If you are looking to make your already existing site more visually appealing then you a more likely to need a web design company, but if you are looking for more functionality and provide you with more integration than it already has, you will need a web development firm.

Web development firms typically specialize in web programming and functionality, while web design firms will specialize in making it visually appealing and usable for your visitors. There is a fine line between graphic design firms and web design firms because they both use similar techniques. Typically graphic design firms graphics will not be optimized correctly for the Internet, so if you choose a graphic design firm, make sure they have experience with graphics online. Understanding the difference will help you to choose the right firm that will help you accomplish you online goals.

Here are some key points that should help you when choosing a web design firm:

* Price: Price is often the largest key factor when choosing a design firm; unfortunately it is also one of the biggest misunderstood key factors. When selecting a design firm be weary when you receive a quote that is cheaper than what it should be. How do you know what is cheaper than it should be? Compare, compare, compare. The only way to ensure what quotes are reasonable and what ones aren't, is for you to have multiple other quotes for you to compare it with.

The ones that you should be weary about are the quotes that come back that are to good to be true or are much more expensive than the others with similar features.

Typically quotes that are much cheaper than other companies come from newer design firms that do not have the experience to and need to lure in clients with low rates. For some this may be fine, but for others this may cost them thousands of dollars in lost revenue, leads and reputation. Usually design firms that cost more will save you more in the long run. Just be careful not to pick the most expensive without considering the others, it is very possible that the most expensive may go out of business tomorrow and take all your money too.

* Experience: Experience comes in many forms, it is possible for the firm to be a specialist in one area or have a wide variety of experience. Unless your budget doesn't allow for it, typically you want to choose a design firm that specializes in all of the specific areas you need. Whether it is one single thing, or many, make sure that the company you choose can cover everything you need.

* Ability to learn: When you are considering a firm for your project, make sure that they ask questions. Do you want the firm to just do the work based on what you tell them? Or do you want the design firm to ask questions about your business and market and try to design a website that will fit your companies identity? In order for a design firm to create an effective website that will accomplish your goals the design firm that is creating it must understand your business and be able to turn that vision in their head into a functional and appealing website.

Finally, remember that if you just want a new PHP or Perl script that will integrate into your existing systems, choose a web development company; but if you are looking for a new identity online that will increase sales and leads, choose a design firm that can see your vision online.

About the Author
Joel Strellner is a freelance web designer and php programmer located in Sacramento, CA. You can visit his website at This article and many more are available there too.