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Did You Know: Over 178,000 web designers and firms exist in the U.S. alone?

With so many choices available, picking the best web design agency is tough. Yet, it’s vital for your online success.

The question is, how do you choose a web design agency to work with?

Answer: You want to choose a web design agency that will do all of the following:

  • Listen to you and share ideas.
  • Use a reliable CMS.
  • Display their work.
  • Stay updated on design trends.
  • Improve as time passes.

But this isn’t all. Before hiring a web design agency, there are other considerations that must be addressed. Keep reading to find out what they are.

» MORE: If you’d rather read about modern web design, see 11 Best Practices for Modern Web Design

5 Major Considerations When Picking a Web Design Agency

These 5 considerations are the most important from our experience. They address core factors that can make or break a project.

This image is a cartoon illustration showing four people in a web design office at night with large windows and a city in the background. Three men and a woman sit at large desks while they work in front of computers.

1. Have You Outlined Your Website’s Goals and Budget?

Key Takeaway: Know what you want your website to do, understand your audience, and set a good budget. These steps are the base of a good web design partnership. With these in mind, you’re ready to find the right agency.

A cartoonish illustration focusing on goals and web design needs. The scene includes two characters discussing website goals for a client while looking at a computer screen with design icons.

Know What You Want To Achieve

Before you look for a web design agency, it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve. It could be getting more attention online, selling more, or simply building a body of work that you’re proud of.

Whatever the case, your goals should be clear and realistic. For instance, maybe you want to sell 20% more online in six months or get 500 new people on your email list. These are fantastic objectives.

Conversely, it would be very difficult to attract 100,000 new visitors to your website in three days.

Here are some questions to consider when defining your website’s goals:

  • What is the primary purpose of your website?
  • What specific, measurable goals do you want to achieve with your website?
  • How will your website contribute to your overall business objectives?
  • What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use to measure the success of your website?
  • What website features and functionalities are essential to achieving your goals?

Identifying Your Target Audience and Their Expectations

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, the next step is to know your audience. This will help you define your website’s needs. For example, a doctor might need an easy way to book appointments.

If you’re unsure what components your website needs, a web design agency with experience in your industry can help you determine what will work best for your audience.

Setting a Realistic Budget for Your Web Design Project

The next step is to determine the project budget. Having a clear budget is key to managing a web design project.

The cost can change based on your business and location. The level of detail and custom work also affects the price. If you’re short on money, consider using an option like Wix. However, a professionally designed site can boost your business online.

Look for agencies that can work with your budget and still deliver results.

2. What Type of Design Agency Are You Looking For?

Key Takeaway: Take your time researching and evaluating web design agencies, considering their size, portfolio, industry experience, and approach to SEO and digital marketing. Utilize online resources and set clear expectations before hiring. With these steps, you’ll be well-prepared to find the right agency for your business needs and budget.

Cartoon illustration of a web designer who is thinking. He's in an office standing in front of a computer screen.

Researching and Evaluating Web Design Agencies

Finding the right web design agency is a big deal.

You want to get this right because the LAST thing you want to do is sink thousands of dollars into a web design company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.


To protect your interests, examine the web design agency closely, looking at their past work, their understanding of your business, and their ability to create great websites.

Also, before diving into your search, remember there are different types of design agencies available. Large traditional design agencies often manage big projects with multiple components, which include branding, web design, video production, and more.

Ask yourself, can I afford a giant agency with a huge staff?

These types of projects usually require massive budgets that are well beyond the scope of small and medium-sized businesses. You don’t want to get locked out of the industry because you can’t afford to pump 100K into your website.


There ARE web design agencies that can give you a true quality product for much less than that and who care about your business. Sage Digital Agency is one of them. Web design agencies in our wheelhouse are better suited to serve small and medium-sized businesses.

Assessing the Agency’s Portfolio

Once you know the type of agency you want, we suggest looking at their portfolio. A good portfolio shows creativity, versatility, and the ability to help different kinds of businesses.

Key elements of a good web design portfolio include:

  • Diverse projects showcasing adaptability.
  • Visually engaging and user-friendly designs.
  • Designs that showcase problem-solving skills.

The Agency’s Experience in YOUR Industry

It’s also important that the agency has experience in your specific industry. This will make it much easier for them to spot issues and devise solutions for you.

Relevant experience is huge. You can hire a great web design agency with a skilled team, but if they’re not versed in your industry, it’s almost like speaking a foreign language. Not all websites are the same. Different sectors have different requirements, and some of them are quite pronounced.

IMPORTANT: Always ask your preferred web design agency if they have experience designing and developing websites in your industry specifically.

Discussing SEO and Digital Marketing Strategies

All of the points mentioned above are important, but a full web design package doesn’t stop at making a great site. It should also include ways to boost your site’s search ranking and bring in the right visitors.

Talk to the agency about how they handle SEO and digital marketing. A strong team will create a strategy for you or point you to trustworthy third-party resources. This will make your site more visible and attract the best customers.

Resources For Finding Web Design Agencies

Need help getting started with your search? You can find good design partners through industry events, online directories, and review sites.

Some recommended resources include:

  • Online Directories: Clutch, DesignRush, and Upcity offer detailed reviews, ratings, and filters to find top web design agencies.
  • Review Sites: Google Business Profiles and GoodFirms provide ratings, reviews, and business information to gauge agency reputation.
  • Industry Events: SXSW Conference and UXPA 2024 offer networking opportunities with digital creatives and web design professionals.
  • Agency Websites: Agency Spotter and Top Digital Agency feature verified client reviews, case studies, and articles to assess agency capabilities.

So, You’ve Found Your Preferred Web Design Agency…What Now?

Before hiring ANY web design team, make sure to set clear deadlines for the work and payment schedule.

You want to cover yourself because many companies use a mix of in-house and outsourced talent to access a wider skill set. If not managed properly, this can result in project delays and inconsistencies.

So, think through all the options before you decide.

3. Have You Asked About or Independently Researched The Agency’s Process?

Key Takeaway: When evaluating a web design agency, look for a clear, structured process that includes site mapping, visual design, development, pre-launch preparation, and post-launch support. Ensure they have expertise in the best CMS for your needs, prioritize mobile responsiveness, and test for cross-browser compatibility. Choosing an agency with a well-defined process and these key capabilities will set your website up for success.

A cartoonish illustration focusing on web design and research and evaluation. The scene includes two characters looking at a research board for web design.

Evaluating the Agency’s Design and Development Process

Good web design firms always follow a clear plan when designing and developing websites.

They start by learning what makes your project unique. They figure out who you want to reach and what you aim to achieve. Then, they come up with a plan that is made just for you.

While processes vary across design firms, as a general rule, here is what you can expect:

  • They will create a sitemap to organize website pages and meet visitor needs.
  • They will design each page while incorporating your feedback.
  • They will develop the website based on approved designs, ensuring high quality.
  • They will prepare the site for launch with security, SEO, and analytics setup.
  • They will provide post-launch support and guidance for optimal website performance.

The above steps summarize our web design process. Any agency that doesn’t follow a similar structured approach is likely missing key elements needed for success.

Always choose a web design agency with a clear, well-defined process.

Inquiring About Content Management System (CMS) Expertise

Once you understand their design process, you’ll want to ask the web design agency what CMS they use.

Websites need great tools to manage their content. WordPress is the best CMS of all (in our team’s opinion), but some agencies prefer Magento, Drupal, etc.

A good team will suggest the best one for your needs.

Asking About Mobile Responsiveness and Cross-Browser Compatibility

Finally, ask the web design agency if they prioritize mobile responsiveness. Being mobile-friendly is a must for websites, and a good agency will account for this.

They’ll also do a thorough check to ensure your site looks good on all major web browsers.

4. Have You Tested The Agency’s Customer Service?

Key Takeaway: When choosing a web design agency, assess their responsiveness, communication, and reviews. During the initial consultation, ask specific questions and observe how well they address your concerns. Selecting an agency with excellent customer service from the beginning lays the groundwork for a successful project.

A cartoonish illustration focusing on Customer Service. The scene features a modern, stylish office at night with several customer service employees wearing headsets as they look at computer screens.

Feeling Out The Initial Consultation

During the initial consultation, pay close attention to how responsive and helpful the web design agency is.

Are they prompt in answering your questions and addressing your concerns? Do they provide clear and detailed information about their services and processes?

A reliable design firm will provide excellent customer support from the very beginning.

Checking Client Testimonials and Online Reviews

Client testimonials and online reviews also reveal a lot about a web design agency’s level of customer service.

Having more than 30 good reviews is a positive sign. WebFX, for example, has hundreds. But, if reviews aren’t enough to convince you, asking for recommendations from professionals whose websites you love is a smart idea.

They can often point you in the right direction.

Asking Questions

Once you’ve narrowed down who you want to work with, we suggest asking them the following questions:

  • What experience do you have handling cases similar to mine?
  • Who will be working on my case (you, an associate, or a team), and how will communication be handled?
  • What are your fees, and how do you structure your billing?
  • Based on the information I’ve provided, what are the next steps we should take?

Pay attention to the way the designer communicates and whether they provide you with concrete answers.

5. Have You Considered Alternatives?

Key Takeaway: Explore alternatives to traditional web design agencies, such as freelancers, website builders, and CaaS, which may better suit your specific needs and budget. As your business grows, partnering with a skilled agency can provide the problem-solving expertise needed for online success. Choose the option that best supports your unique situation and goals.

A cartoonish illustration featuring a cozy, enclosed office at night. The scene includes comfortable furniture and a computer screen with the words Alternatives on it.

Alternatives to Traditional Web Design Agencies

While traditional web design agencies have their merits, it’s worth considering other solutions that may better suit your needs.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Freelance web designers for a smaller project or proof of concept.
  • Platforms like Upwork and design marketplaces.
  • Website builders (Wix, Squarespace) for tight budgets and simple needs.

Another alternative is Creative-as-a-Service (CaaS), which allows business owners to access design services on a subscription basis as needed. CaaS is a potential solution for businesses with ongoing needs but limited budgets.

Not Everyone Needs A Web Design Agency

Did you know that Alex, founder of Sage Digital Agency, frequently turns down projects? He’s had thousands of sales calls over the years, and he turns people away all the time, sometimes for their own good.

The ideal client for a web design agency is one who has the following attitude:

“I don’t have time to mess around. I don’t have time to take a chance on something. I have a real business that needs real results.”

By contrast, alternatives, such as Wix, work well for newer business owners who aren’t fully established yet and are still figuring things out.

If you’re just starting out, it may be a good idea to start with a less heavy option. Hiring a web design agency to create a full-blown custom website is a BIG commitment.

Hiring An Agency Once You’re Ready in The Future

However, as your business grows, working with a web design agency will make a lot more sense, especially on the problem-solving front.

A skilled web design team will solve problems for you that are quite difficult, perhaps even impossible, for you to fix on your own. Although website builders like Wix offer some support, they run into fundamental limits when it comes to providing solutions to very difficult problems.

This is where a web design agency can really help you.

How to Choose a Web Design Agency: An Additional Key Factor to Consider

Key Takeaway: This is an additional factor to keep in mind. When selecting a web design agency, look for one that actively listens to your ideas and needs, as this is essential for a successful partnership. Keeping this in mind will help you find an agency that shares your vision.

cartoon illustration of a key in a web design office.

Do They Listen To Your Ideas? This Is KEY 🗝️

Before choosing a web design agency, look at how well they listen to your ideas. This is crucial for a successful partnership. Without a listening ear, your partnership with the agency could likely fail.

It’s a real issue that some web design agencies put their own wants and needs first, BEFORE their client. As you can imagine, this is bound to cause problems for any project.

Balancing Client Desires with Professional Advice

A design agency should always listen to the client first and foremost and do what they want, EVEN if it isn’t the best idea. That said, a design agency does have a duty to voice its opinion and warn against certain courses of action.

Preferably, the agency should offer creative solutions in an evolving process and foster a collaborative relationship with the client. Ultimately, however, the client makes the final call.

Choosing an Agency That Values Constant Improvement

Our suggestion is to choose a web design agency that is honest, communicative, and always learning, getting better, and exploring new trends. They should aim for constant improvement, explain what they’re going for, and get your take on it.

This is key to a strong, long-term relationship.

Keep these points in mind, and you’ll find a web design agency that shares your vision. They should produce great work and help you meet your online goals.

How to Choose a Web Design Agency – Final Thoughts

Finding the right web design agency requires some understanding of the web design industry, but just as importantly, it requires compatibility. Relationships are a big part of any web design project, especially since there will likely be multiple people involved.

Ultimately, you want to ask, “Do I enjoy working with this team of designers?” If the answer is yes, then you’ll almost certainly have a good experience.

To get to know us, visit our Connect page.

Scott Hall

Born in Texas, Scott is Sage Digital Agency's Head of Content and professional word wrangler.