If you are anything like the average website client you really have no idea what separates one website designer from another. We would like to provide you with a few things to look for.
In designing a website one element is more important than any other, search engine optimization. The most attractive website in the world isn't worth a single penny if no one ever clicks to see it. Why even build a website if you can't get it in front of your potential customers? As the client you want to hire a design company that understands all the elements that are being factored into the search engine algorithm.
Find a website the designer has built. Take a moment to determine what would make an important search phrase. Now put that phrase into a Google search box. For example, if the website was designed for a Greensboro landscaping company put "Greensboro Landscaping" into a Google search box. If that website has been online for at least a year and it isn't on the first page the main reason is likely inadequate optimization. No website designer can ethically guarantee a first page Google listing. The best way to determine a design firm's ability to optimize is to investigate their past success rate. Just designing a website and not managing the optimization adjustments over the next several months will rarely ever get a website onto the first page of Google.
All websites look different depending on the browser it is being viewed with. This is because each browser has its own method of reading the HTML code. In other words, a website designed to look perfect in Google Chrome might look and work absolutely terrible in MS Explorer. To combat this an organization called W3C standardizes HTML codes.
At the W3C website you can put the URL of any website page into a box and find out if the code on the page "validates" for all browsers. In order to be assured the page is loading fast and working correctly in all browsers you will want to see a message like the one below. If you see any error messages it means the designer has skipped this critical step in building your website!
There are several ways to test page loading speed. GTMetrix is a quick and simple way to find out how well the website designer has done on this critically important issue. What makes page speed important is that it is factored in Google's algorithm. Another problem is that if a website has slow loading pages it may not be completely indexed. This costs the website valuable data credit in the Google algorithm.
When you get a score in GTMetrix the results are telling you how fast the website is against all other websites. It is important to note that it is nearly impossible to get 100% with an HTML5 responsive website because there are elements being sized from inside CSS instead of HTML. The website designer's goal should be to load faster than at least 90% to 98% of all websites or he should be making the necessary adjustments and repairs to get there.
All current search engines like Google are giving stronger search strength to websites that are designed using the newest HTML5 mobile friendly responsive code. Search engines now require websites to appear properly on all devices from smartphones to PC. Any website that isn't mobile friendly will slowly fade in the search engines and will be hard to recover. If you want to test a page and the designer's ability to comply with this requirement, highlight and copy "Ctrl C" the web URL from address bar and paste "Ctrl V" it into Google's Mobile Friendly Tester.
Using these tests you can check a website designer's work and you can also compare one designer to another. I would like to mention here that if you find one that does better on these tests than OBXOPS I recommend that you choose them over us!