If you’re a business owner searching for a web design agency or a web design agency searching for an identity, you might be wondering exactly what you’re looking for.

Most of the time, you’re not likely to just walk down the street and find a dazzling, neon sign with an electric mouse screaming “web design agency.” So just what the heck is going to help you find one?

Okay, Google, obviously. In less than half a second you get almost 350 million results for the term there. That’s great and all; but actually not all too helpful. The Google-sphere can provide great leads or send you into a minefield of unqualified designers.

How do you know if a web design agency is quality? It goes beyond an address and a phone number.

Some tips to finding a modern web design agency:

  • Check the portfolio. You can see ours here. It’s a critical first step. You need to see what your prospective web designers have built for other clients. Believe it or not, there are plenty of agencies still making lots of money giving people websites that are not up to industry standards. One of the first giveaways to a stone-age web design agency is a lack of responsive web designs in their portfolio. They should have at least a few examples of effective, responsive designs built in the past 12 months that look awesome on any device. Otherwise, you can bet they are not on the cutting-edge.
  • Ask questions. Nobody expects you to conduct an in-depth inquisition into the ins-and-outs of coding here. But it’s a good idea to have a few questions loaded in your back pocket. A modern firm can answer these: “What’s your content management system?”, “Do you charge maintenance fees?”, “Is this website mobile-friendly?”
  • Speaking of content management, if someone tries to sell you in a proprietary system, hang up immediately. Proprietary content management systems will put a ball-and-chain on anyone who has to work with your website daily. If you’re a media company—this is especially true. Journalism schools are now teaching WordPress. It’s the industry standard. And unless you’re transporting top secret foreign intelligence to Switzerland, it’s the best one for you.

These three tips don’t cover the entire spectrum, but they are a nice place to start. You’ll have a bit of an educated leg when searching for your next web design agency. And if all else fails, stake-out the coffee shop.