What To Ask a Web Design Company’s References During a Reference Check

A person checking their phone and laptop

Website design is a crucial component of the public’s perception of your business; studies have shown that 96% of users’ opinion of your website is influenced by its design. Great web design ensures site visitors can find what they want from your site with ease. It delivers a better user experience by making it enjoyable to browse the site. 

Best of all, it helps boost the reputation of your brand. Positive brand associations can easily turn a one-time site visitor into a repeat customer. That’s why hiring the right web design agency is essential, and knowing what to ask during a reference check could help. Among the best ways to know whether an agency is a fit for your business goals is to talk to their website design references. Companies should be able to provide at least 2-3 references from satisfied clients to help you assess their services.

If they were happy customers, the chances are that you can make the most out of the relationship. Unhappy customers will also shed some light on whether you should look elsewhere. Remember, your relationship with the web design company will impact your bottom line, which makes choosing the right partners essential. If you’re concerned about the potential costs of reference checks, it can actually cut costs long-term. The US Small Business Administration estimates that for every dollar spent on screening, a company can make back between $5 and $16 due to higher retention rates, increased productivity, and other advantages.

Here’s what to ask during a reference check:

Start With Finding the Right References

Finding the right reference is important when vetting a web design company. The ideal reference is a business that had objectives that were similar to yours at the start of the relationship. These objectives could be anything, from lead generation, to getting a responsive design, to improving customer experience.

Once you identify the right reference, you need to identify the perfect individual to talk to. If the company’s members are too high up the ladder, they might not have enough hands-on experience with the project to offer you concrete information. Individuals who are too low in the project development process might not have a healthy overview of the entire project. 

The perfect fit is someone who understands the project’s scope and has enough hands-on input into it. Once you know what to ask during a reference check, these individuals will provide you with invaluable insights. 

How Does Your Current Website Performance Match the Initial Objectives?

The right web design company should have the ability to actualize your web design objectives. Want to offer customers a more personalized experience? They should have a plan on making the right tweaks. 

Learning that their previous customers saw their objectives turn into reality can help put you at ease about working with a company. Don’t settle for vague statements about the website’s performance. Look out for detailed examples of how the relationship impacted site or brand performance from the website design references. For instance, can they provide quantitative data to demonstrate that making X tweaks to the website made their business more accessible to Y type of customers? If they can, it’s a good sign that they’re a reputable company.

How Easy Was It To Work With the Company?

When considering what to ask during a reference check, this question is a great place to start. Availability is the best ability of any business you start a relationship with. While they might promise the best services, these promises mean nothing if they aren’t available to fulfill them. This is where great communication comes in.

Ask the references how responsive the company was when it comes to answering email and phone calls. Was it easy to collaborate with the team members? How well did they take criticism? Ask if they were willing to guide the references through complex web design processes using simple terms. A great working relationship will not only impact the initial relationship but also drive future projects. 

How Serious Are They With Website Maintenance?

One thing to know as you learn what to ask during a reference check is that your relationship with the web design company doesn’t end with the first project. Some design elements will call for ongoing maintenance. While maintenance might seem like a slight issue, it could easily affect your revenue — ask Amazon.

On Prime Day, Amazon once lost $100 million in sales due to site downtime. These are losses that could have been avoided through timely website maintenance. Working with a web designer that prioritizes website maintenance could improve your reliability as a brand and promote customer trust. Ask the website design references how happy they are with how the company handles maintenance issues.

Is the Web Designer Up-to-Date With the Latest Design Trends?

You may wonder what web design trends are doing in this list of what to ask during a reference check. The web design world is ever-dynamic, and the changes that occur are for the better. Most trends are typically a reflection of what the customer wants. For instance, making a website mobile-friendly is one of the few trends that are hard to ignore. 

In fact, 62% of brands have noticed an increase in revenue by making their site mobile-friendly. Ignoring such a trend means that you will be missing a lot of revenue-generating opportunities. There are many more trends that your site needs to keep up with, from personalization to the use of augmented reality.

The right design company should understand and apply these trends to your website. During a reference check, knowing what to ask about how the designer applies these trends is important. For instance, you could ask about some of the trends the designer suggested to the reference that had a huge impact on the bottom line.

How Long Did the Project Take?

An hourglass that’s on a piece of newspaper

Timing is everything when launching a website or simply making tweaks. For instance, if the peak season for your business is in a month or so, it is important to make changes as fast as possible. Making these tweaks allows you to have enough time to test them and offer your customers the best experience yet. 

One thing to ask during a reference check is what it was like to work with the agency in terms of time. Did they keep the project within the expected timeline, or were there delays? How did they respond to the unexpected delays? A design company that works within the given timeline could be your best partner, especially when making time-sensitive updates to your website. However, when defining your scope of work, you should add some leeway for delays.

Cover All Bases 

The kind of work a designer does on your website could make or break your business’ future, especially if you rely heavily on the site. That’s why you need to assess all areas, including their online review and opinions of their website design references. Now that you know what to ask during a reference check, you can proceed to interview the right individuals.