88% of online customers opt not to return to a website after a poor experience. To attract (and convert!) as many potential clients and provide flawless customer experience, you need one of the top-ranking web development companies. However, knowing how to screen for one is a challenge. That is why—besides ranking the best providers of this service in the table below—we also prepared a list of all the steps to take when searching for a web development agency, as well as questions to ask before sealing the deal.
How We Selected the Best Web Development Companies
Choosing a great development partner is crucial for your web project’s success. It takes far more than a quick Google search to figure out what separates the good from the bad. However, we don’t want only the good; we want the best, which is why we give you the criteria we used when creating our curated list of the industry’s best.
Website, Portfolio, and Case Studies
Our first step in the process is looking at the prospective web developer’s website. Any company worth their salt should have a website with intuitive navigation and great design. It should also be responsive and engaging. In other words: if the website development companies didn’t do a great job on their own sites, can you really expect a different result for their clients?
Once you’re satisfied with how the website looks and responds, find their portfolio. This is a recap of their previous work, which typically includes information on the company’s experience across industries, number of projects, and how long they have been on the market. You want clear evidence that they have the expertise and understand your market/target audience.
Case studies are also an essential source of information about website development agencies. They will provide insight into the overall development process from the initial brief to the end of the project. If the case studies aren’t available on the agency’s website, ask for them.
Your web developer company will create your project based on a provided web design. While there’s nothing wrong with getting your web design from one company and your development from another, it may not be the ideal scenario.
Typically, it’s better when the partner that is supposed to develop your website also does your design aspects to minimize the time spent on potential functionality issues. The team will be able to easily communicate any coding problems concerning design, saving the client’s money.
SEO, Marketing, and Content
Your website should be as optimized as possible. This means that you should also consider content creation, marketing, and search engine optimization. Sure, you can get a separate agency to provide these services; however, the best-ranking web development agencies will offer them as part of a comprehensive strategy.
It’s important to check this with the company before making your choice. Go through their past projects to figure out if the marketing strategies your agency is offering are a good fit for your needs.
Hosting your website on a server is not something you can skip. This means that your chosen web developer should provide hosting as part of their services. Not having this option doesn’t necessarily mean you should discard the website development firms altogether, as long as they have a ready solution for you if needed.
In that case, the agency will typically recommend a web hosting company they are partnering with to take over this segment of the project. Do not take the recommendation blindly; instead, do your diligence and analyze the partner’s services and security measures in depth.
We are confident that you aim to have a fully operational website and not only a basic design that offers little to no functionality. This means that you want to hire a company that can build your website from start to finish. The top website development agencies that offer full-stack services keep the highest standards and have specialists that have the necessary experience and knowledge.
Here are some of the things we like to see with developers:
- UX/UI design
- Front-end technologies like REACT, LESS, SASS, and others
- Multiple programming languages like PHP, Java, C#, Python, and Ruby
- Databases such as MySQL, Oracle, MongoDB, and Redis
- Developing frameworks and libraries like Java Spring, Node.Js, PHP Thinkphp, Express.JS, and MyBatis
Responsive Web Development
Having your website look fantastic on desktop is not enough. Most consumers access websites from their mobile phones, which means that you should make sure that the web development firms you’re considering will provide a responsive mobile experience.
Useful info includes how many mobile-optimized sites your developer has created and how they went about it. Visit some of the websites listed in their section with past projects and look at how they respond on multiple devices. If you notice any issues, skip that company and keep looking.
Although you can’t expect to get a superb product for pennies, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to spend a fortune to hire an excellent web development company. Cost-effectiveness is of utmost importance, so you should prioritize agencies offering professional web development services and prices that fit them. Be careful with agencies whose prices go significantly over or under the industry average. This typically indicates that something is not right.
How to Choose One of the Leading Web Development Companies
Now that you understand what qualities to look for in a potential web development service provider, there are still some important points to consider. Specifically, we want to give you some steps to follow to help you narrow down your pool of potential choices further.
Checking what former customers think about a company is one of the best ways to get a feel of it. Naturally, you should go beyond reviews posted on the firm’s website, and instead scout for ones on third-party platforms. Don’t discard a company based on a single complaint, but watch out for repeating issues.
Client reviews aren’t only helpful for gauging overall client satisfaction. They also give you a direct way to learn whether or not the agency has experience doing projects like yours. You can also get a sense of the rank that website development companies hold within the industry.
Why stop at reading reviews only when you can go a step further and contact former clients to inquire about their experience and satisfaction with the results? This is perhaps the most straightforward way of vetting the information you find online.
Speedy Email Responses
While it may not seem like a big deal, responsiveness is the first thing you’ll notice when you encounter a problem. Smaller website development agencies are less likely to have a dedicated support staff, which means that your primary contact may be the owner of the company or a project manager. So, find their contact information and ask them some of the things we suggested to get a better feel for the company and how they respond to your questions. It’s unreasonable to expect an immediate answer, but no reply within 48 hours is a bit of a red flag.
Local or Outsourced?
Picking the best website development company in your area or opting to outsource to a top web development firm overseas both have their pros and cons.
Pros of a Local Web Development Firm
- Easy communication
- Real-time problem solving
- Understanding the local market
- Legal issues are settled easier
Cons of a Local Web Development Company
- Typically higher prices
- Specializations might be tougher to find
- Possibly longer wait times
Pros of Outsourcing Web Development Services
- Typically lower prices
- Specialized expertise is much easier to find
- Project management is streamlined
- Higher number of expert developers on hand
Cons of Outsourcing a Web Development Team
- Possible lagged responsiveness due to time zone differences
- Misunderstandings due to different cultural contexts
- Harder to assess the suitability for a project
In other words, consider your specific needs and wants, but also think about your limitations when deciding whether to hire locally or outsource globally.
Questions to Ask Website Development Agencies Before Sealing the Deal
Before you decide to put your signature on that contract, take a step back and consider if you have all the information you need. Mull over the questions you can ask the agencies regarding their processes and technology of choice. You don’t want to be weeks in your project and suddenly realize that the processes in place are unacceptable to you. Here’s a list of factors to go through.
Project Management Methodologies
There are many different methodologies top web development firms are using to run their projects. Ask your future partner which one they have chosen to use, and why. Some of the most popular ones among web developers are agile and waterfall.
The agile approach to development is based on team collaboration with a focus on time. This methodology achieves an incremental progression of the project, with phases that are called “sprints”. Sprints have their respective deliverables and time frames and are set up to adjust to changes at any point. Agile leans heavily on client input, which is not something that will work for everyone.
The waterfall methodology meanwhile has a rigid structure with stages that need to be completed before starting the next one. This development style is more suited for shorter projects that do not have multiple possible phases. Still, the very best website development companies will be able to adapt.
Project Management Tools
It’s hard to find a company nowadays that doesn’t use some sort of project management tool. In the context of web development, it is especially important to manage teams and projects efficiently and without unnecessary steps.
There’s a lot of management-based tools out there for website development service providers to use. Some of the most popular ones are Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. Each of these has a high number of different functionalities that help teams organize anything related to a project. Tools the company opts to use can tell you a lot of their management style, so be sure to ask about them.
Outlining your website will be one of the first tasks of your dedicated website development team. This will include creating a sitemap and wireframe to plan the interaction between different pages and the website’s design.
The leading website development firms will make sure to position and target your market to give you the best possible result. Discussing your brand identity and your overall goals should be another mandatory step in the process of bringing your website to life.
Ask your web developer firm about the kinds of documents you can expect to get from them at any stage of the project. The best web development firms will make sure you get documentation detailing any of the following examples:
- Technical and creative requirements
- Site architecture
- Application of the brand
- Framework information
- Marketing plans
- Specific website features
Maintenance and Security
The questions of website maintenance and security are perhaps the most important ones. Web development companies should ensure that your CMS, apps, and plugins are performing optimally by securing and maintaining them. You may also want to ask them how they plan to detect any possible vulnerabilities on your site and whether they do it manually or use automated tools. Do not sign a contract with a web development agency before ascertaining that these details are covered. You can fix any design flaw, but security issues can be disastrous.