4 minutes to read

Types of Web Design Companies

Most mid-sized companies recognize that their website is one of their most important digital assets. It is a reflection of their commitment to quality, the value they place on communicating their unique selling proposition and how important it is to them to connect with their prospects and customers online.

When redesigning your website, it’s important to assemble the right project team, including a developer, front-end designer, content creator, project manager, and marketing consultant. However, for most companies, it would be very unusual to have all of these roles fulfilled by in-house staff. This means that you will need to bring in an outside agency to help you successfully complete your web design project.

Most likely, you will begin your search for a “web design company.” Typing this into Google will yield dozens of web design companies near you. How will you find the right agency for your new website?

One way is to pick up the phone and start asking for quotes. But any professional web company will want to have at least a phone call or an in person meeting to get a rough understanding of your requirements. And after going through this process with just a few companies, you will realize that this method is very inefficient.

Instead, do a little bit of homework before picking up the phone, and narrow down the list of potential web development companies by understanding that all web design companies fall into one of four categories. Knowing which type of web design agency is best-suited to meeting the goal of your project will help you narrow the selection down to a much more manageable number on which you can actually perform your due diligence.

The 4 Types of Web Design Agencies

 Small Business Web Design Agencies: All About the Cost

These tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • Solopreneur
  • Small (1-2 person) web design business that only designs and builds websites; these businesses typically use freelance resources from overseas to help keep costs down
  • Social media or smaller marketing agencies that have an in-house web designer to round out their service offerings

You might find some of these companies specializing in a single vertical industry, such as dentists, while others are generalists who do not specialize at all and build sites for a variety of small businesses.

Small business web design agencies tend to be less expensive and have “packaged” offerings with a fixed scope and price. Most use Wordpress (or another CMS) and templates to complete their web projects quickly.  

These types of companies are a good choice if your web design project is not complex and does not require a lot of marketing strategy or if you have a limited budget.

Web Developer Agencies: Technical Experts

These companies typically create custom-coded websites and have a team of experienced programmers. While they may use a CMS like Wordpress, they are also highly skilled programmers who know the ins and outs of Java, Python, PHP, CSS, Ruby and, of course, JavaScript.

They are experts who create fully custom websites and take their projects through the entire software lifecycle development. Their websites tend to be one-of-a-kind.

Partnering with a technical expert agency is a great option if you have complex requirements that cannot be met with a CMS like Wordpress, if you have a real-time data integration with your backend system or if you want a unique website that looks and behaves like nothing else on the internet.

Advertising Agencies: All About the Glamour

These are the big-time, traditional advertising agencies you might find on the East or West Coast. They work mostly with Fortune 500 companies who are in a market where they compete in branding, imaging and messaging.   

The websites they build are tightly integrated with their marketing campaigns they run, which requires frequent changes, stable coding and high availability. Due to their size, they have a large staff that is highly skilled and focused on the user experience (UX) in their website design. They are not only experts in web design but also adept in digital advertising, commercials, application development, and managing large and complex marketing campaigns. If you are a Fortune 500 company and place a lot of value on your brand and image, then an ad agency is a good fit for you.

Marketing Agencies: Strategy Experts

These are all-in-one solution providers and have the resources not only to help you define your marketing strategy, but also to execute it. They are typically smaller in size than Advertising Agencies and are staffed with local talent: experts in web design, social media, SEO, SEM, email marketing and content strategy. The websites they create and design are part of an overall marketing strategy to drive more leads and close more sales for their customers.

Due to their breadth and depth of services, these companies typically partner with clients who are at least mid-sized, and some clients can scale all the way to Fortune 1000 companies. Don’t expect them to be order takers; these are business and marketing consultants who will ask you the tough questions and take the time to make sure that your website delivers business results.

By establishing your requirements and understanding the four different type of web design agencies, you can quickly narrow your list down to a few select companies that you will want to invest your time in to see which one is right for you.


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Written by David Lee

As the founder of Do What Works, my goal is to take the best practices and lessons I learned from working with Fortune 500 companies and bring them to the mid-size market and help our clients grow their business.