It seems that everyone has a website these days. Small local stores, major retailers, nonprofits, restaurants, bloggers even rural farms have a web presence. With so many user friendly platforms like WordPress, Wix & Squarespace it's quite easy to get a basic website up and running with out hiring a web designer. But what if you NEED or even just WANT someone to help you. Sometimes there's more to a great website then just putting your contact information and a feel-good istock photo up.
What should I be looking for?
Well, that really depends on what you need for your website. The first step is always to have a somewhat clear vision of what you want to accomplish with your website. It doesn't have to be a crystal clear vision, but you need some idea of how you want your customers/clients to interact with your website and what you'll be using it for. At one end of the spectrum, websites can be dynamic machines that facilitate the entire B2C (business to consumer) relationship. At the other end of the spectrum are static websites that present a billboard of sorts to users with basic information, content and images.
If what you need is just a simple one-page responsive website to provide your customers with basic info, a way to contact you, maybe a bio and you are at least minimally technically savvy. Then using one of the services mentioned above may work just fine for you.
If you need a more dynamic website or don't even know where to start with a simple one, then it's time start looking for a web design company. Just doing a quick google search will yield ample results. But you need to know what to look for before you decide who to go with. First, take a look at their website. Is it user friendly? Did you find it visually appealing? Is their contact information and portfolio readily available? You should be able to get a general feel for the type of design and functionality that they are capable of by looking at their portfolio.
The main quality to look for is Customer Service. This can often be a great denominator in quality web design companies. A dedicated Project Manager can really facilitate the process and keep your project on track. You want someone who is going to work with you, not up-sell you on a bunch of features you don't have the need for.