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What's The History Of My Web Development Company?
By Oliver Pluckrose
However, they also build secure, reliable sites. For example, if you're running an eCommerce site, then it's no good looking nice if your shopping cart doesn't offer safe payment processing and quick loading.

But how do you know if a web company has the right strengths in both areas?

The truth is, it's often hard to tell initially what the background of a web design company is. The problem is that lots of people claim knowledge that they don't have. What-you-see-is-what-you-get editors such as Dreamweaver have enabled people to put up sites that look semi-decent, without possessing advanced technical knowledge.

While this is great for the evolution of the web as a whole, it poses a dilemma when it comes to selecting your designer. So, what should you look for?

The main types of web design company

In general, you can break website design companies into several categories.

- Those that began as print and graphic designers and have moved online
- Software engineers or developers who now offer web design as part of their services
- Marketing or advertising companies that have added web design to their portfolio

There's no reason that any of these types of company shouldn't offer reliable, quality and professional web site design services. However, there is a chance that some could offer technical services without quality design, or vice-versa.

A technical checklist...

If the best design companies are also developers, they should be able to handle a range of technical skills as a minimum, including:

- Coding W3C-compliant HTML and CSS by hand (i.e. Not using an editor such as Dreamweaver)
- PHP, JavaScript, Flash and other dynamic languages
- A basic understanding of search engine optimisation
- Tailored eCommerce solutions (such as shopping carts and secure payment processing)
- Bespoke content management systems
- Social

media functions, such as forums and blogs

That's not to say that you'll need every one of these features for your website. However, if your web development company offers all of these services, then the chances are that they have the right mix of creative and technical skills.

The best test...

Ultimately, you can judge a web design company by the quality of their results. Take a look at their portfolio. Click on some of their websites to see if you like the style and presentation. You need a designer that can understand what you want and bring your ideas to life visually.

If you're running an eCommerce site, or need bespoke applications, it's essential that you find a company with established software and website development services.

You should therefore take some time to check a company's portfolio in more detail. Has the company worked on complex sites with plenty of traffic? How quickly do the pages load? Are there any glitches when you change the browser window size, or the browser type? Try and put through an order via any shopping cart functions – can you get all the way through without any errors or problems?

These basic tests should at least ensure that your designer can handle both the creative and technical sides of your project.
Oliver Pluckrose is the Head of Development for Online Business Solutions UK Limited (OBS Group) – a web design agency based in London. Formed in 1998, OBS Group’s ethos has always been to provide simple, end user-driven web design and e-commerce solutions for a sensible, fixed price.


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