Hiring a leading web design agency ensures your website represents you and your business optimally. These agencies excel at highlighting the important aspects, guiding you through the design process, and crafting a site that feels just right.
While the DIY route with platforms like Wix, WordPress, Shopify, or Squarespace is an option, and hiring a freelancer from Upwork could work, a professional web design agency is unmatched for creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing website.
Below are the top five web design agencies from the US and Europe, renowned for their exceptional ability to design and build outstanding web presences for any industry.
Established in 2009, Clay Global stands out as a leading web design and branding firm in San Francisco. Their expertise in UI/UX and branding melds perfectly, setting a solid foundation for a powerful online presence and comprehensive digital strategy.
Their portfolio showcases a wide range of industries, highlighting their versatility from fintech and healthcare to e-commerce. Working with small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, including tech giants like Facebook, Google, Coinbase, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Sony, and Snapchat, demonstrates their capability to deliver exceptional digital solutions.
Clay Global isn’t just about creating visually appealing designs; they offer full-stack solutions covering web design, development, testing, and marketing. With a team of over 70 seasoned professionals and an impressive retention rate, they ensure quality at every step of the way. Their service rates range from $200 to $250 per hour, with options for fixed-fee engagements.
EY Doberman, a prominent web design firm, specializes in elevating businesses through innovative web design and development. The acquisition of the Swedish consultancy, Doberman, in 2020, bolstered their offerings, enabling collaborations with diverse industries to refine and enhance web presence.
Their team of over 100 web design professionals works tirelessly to tailor web and marketing strategies to meet the unique needs of target audiences and consumers, ensuring every project is a step towards innovation and improvement.
Beyond design and development, EY Doberman commits to thorough quality audits. They approach challenges from various perspectives to discover the most effective solutions, constantly innovating to stay ahead in a competitive market.
Their strategic acquisitions, including Doberman and Avalanche Consulting just two weeks prior, showcase their commitment to integrating broad knowledge and skills. EY Doberman’s mission is to forge new paths for businesses, driving growth and opportunity through cutting-edge web design and development.
Since its inception on April 1, 1962, Pentagram has evolved into a powerhouse in the graphic design world. Over the years, they’ve refined their approach, adopting a new business model that has cemented their status as a comprehensive branding and web design agency. They offer a spectrum of services, including graphic design, brand identity, and digital marketing strategies.
With a global footprint across London, New York City, San Francisco, and Texas, Pentagram has built an impressive clientele, working on iconic projects for Citibank, League of Legends, and the movie ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’
Their ability to craft award-winning marketing websites for such prestigious clients underscores their position as a top-tier web design agency. Their portfolio, prominently featured on their website, showcases their commitment to excellence and the notable brands they’ve partnered with.
Pentagram’s partners extend their expertise to various sectors, including architecture, entertainment, and social media marketing, though they are celebrated for their unparalleled skill in branding and graphic design on a global scale.
Bakken & Baeck
Bakken & Baeck excels as a digital agency, offering comprehensive services from digital strategy and web development to enhancing user experience. Their versatility extends to mobile app development, digital marketing, market research, and content marketing, making them a multifaceted web design company.
They boast a notable achievement with the creation of ‘Wake‘, a collaborative online application that has evolved into a standalone success story, showcasing their capability to innovate and execute impactful digital solutions.
Whether it’s designing digital representations, developing full-stack solutions, or crafting prototypes, Bakken & Baeck possesses the expertise and resources needed for your project’s success. Their holistic approach leverages cross-disciplinary collaboration for innovative problem-solving and effective marketing campaigns.
Their team of over 60 professionals includes web designers, developers, strategists, copywriters, and business developers, all dedicated to propelling your online presence forward. Partnering with Bakken & Baeck means setting your business up for a significant leap in the digital domain.
Code and Theory
Founded in 2001 and based in New York, Code and Theory is a leading web design agency recognized for its innovative approach to branding, digital products, and enhancing customer experiences. Their philosophy intertwines technology and creativity, pushing the boundaries of digital design to meet and surpass client expectations.
With a primary focus on Digital Marketing and Advertising, they serve a diverse clientele, leveraging their expertise to forge impactful digital solutions. Their commitment to excellence has positioned them among the top web design companies globally.
Boasting a global presence and a team of over 500 professionals, Code and Theory offers comprehensive services in digital strategy, web design, and custom software development. Their portfolio includes collaborations with startups and industry giants alike.
As the digital agency of record for notable brands such as Amazon, Adidas, CNN, J.P. Morgan Chase, Samsung, Spotify, TikTok, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, Code and Theory demonstrates its ability to deliver exceptional results across various sectors.
FAQ on Web Design & Web Design Agencies
Launching a website sounds nice and easy, but you might want to consider different options first, depending on your needs.
For example, if you need a website to run your business online, choosing the cheapest option might impact your digital marketing strategy and become more expensive in the long run. And, of course, the opposite is true as well. You should probably avoid talking to high-end web design companies if you need a simple page for an event you’re organizing.
Before deciding on anything, you should ask yourself a couple of questions first.
For example, should you do DIY, hire freelance web developers, or enlist a professional web design agency? I have experienced all three (both as the client and service provider), so I can give you some insights on what to look for, how the web design process goes, and what you can expect. They all have their pros and cons, of course.
1. When should you choose the DIY route?
When I say DIY, I mean simply buying a WordPress or Shopify theme and using it as your website’s main design instead of going to a digital design agency. You can also use drag-and-drop with WordPress (supposing your theme supports Elementor and similar tools).
In this case, the entire web design process is literally picking a theme, tweaking it, and that’s it. The problem with this is most of the time. It’s not optimized well for the web, just pretty (if you have an excellent creative sense). But it works if you don’t want to splurge on top web design agencies and just need a website created quickly and cheaply.
If you need extra functionality, you might end up spending more time and resources too by enlisting some help from web designers. But on the most basic level, expect only to pay around $100 at most. Not bad!
2. Should you hire a freelance web designer?
If you go to Upwork, you will see web designers offering their services for as low as $300-$1000 for an entire website. This can include everything, from web design services for all pages, logo design, graphic design, and initial content for social media.
And the process is simple… you provide what you need and the project scope, the web designer sends back some sample designs (usually based on an existing theme), you pick, and then they adjust according to your specifications. They obviously won’t put any thought into search engine optimization and brand identity, but you’ll get a functioning new website in no time.
Cheap, right? But usually, for this, you are just working with a one-man army, a jack-of-all-trades. And the problem that generally happens is the result is usually just average. The translation of your idea might be different from how you envisioned it to be, but it could also turn out greater than you imagined. People often choose this route, and there’s no problem with that. If you need a working website quickly, I highly recommend hiring a low-cost freelance web designer to do the job.
3. When is it better to work with a web design agency?
The most striking difference with web design companies is the price and the process. A lot of businesses want to bring their brand identity online, and it’s not just a matter of choosing the same colors, uploading iPhone photos, and writing some words. It takes more than that, especially if you’re starting an eCommerce business – you need an elaborate digital marketing strategy, which is the main value add of web design agencies.
In one of the design agencies that I’ve worked with, the process usually starts with a series of discovery calls. This is the stage where the agency’s creative director, project manager, lead developer (all three or some) will hop on a meeting with the client to literally discover the client’s needs, down to the smallest details like the color scheme, elements needed, features, content management systems, etc.
After that, a series of wireframes are usually presented to the client. If the client approves, then the designing phase starts, and so on. This is also coupled with quality assurance – ensuring that everything is up to web standards (and all other standards like the WCAG). Sure, there are a lot of stages before launch, but if you want to build a brand that will last for several years or even decades, then working with a group of experienced web design professionals with extensive technical knowledge should be your top choice.
4. What does a web design company do?
In the most basic sense, an actual web design agency will not only turn your thoughts into a beautiful website, but a good marketing agency will also work with you throughout the process and will help educate you about specific choices – which content management system is appropriate, why a certain design element should be placed and where, and why X, Y, and Z are important or even tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Typically, they have entire processes outlined with a couple of departments who will work on your project in parallel. This could be composed for a digital strategy, UI/UX design team, web development team, digital marketing team, content marketing, and others.
If a creative agency mentions that they will only work on designing your website, and if they don’t have any understanding of digital marketing, conversion optimization, and the like, you should run the other way because designing a website, which is an extension of your company’s brand, is not just simply placing elements together and making colors work. It is much more than that.
5. How to choose a web design agency?
Always reach out to multiple web design companies to learn more about their process. Schedule a meeting with them, prepare your questions, and finally make your decision if you are satisfied. Sounds easy, but it’s tough, much like deciding which architect you should sign up a deal with to design your dream home.
It’s essential that the creative agency you will choose to work with check the following boxes:
- They should have a robust website design portfolio of existing websites to verify for yourself.
- Good reviews from actual people/companies they have worked with.
- Response time should be fast. This will tell you that they know what they are doing and are knowledgeable.
- They should understand your needs (from the first or second meeting). This will demonstrate whether they have several years of experience working with various types of clients or not.
As I mentioned in the previous section, the best web design agencies aren’t just offering you to design your website. They will turn you down if you want your website done in just a few days.
It’s not just simply designing a website. It’s also about ensuring that everything is user-friendly, appealing to your audience, and well-optimized for the web, search engines, and the like. If they don’t take care of these things, you should continue looking.
How much does it cost to hire a website design agency?
As with everything else in website design, it will depend on many factors, of course, but typically a floor price of $10,000 up to six digits is something you can expect when working with web design companies. This is a huge contrast between DIY and hiring a freelancer. But one thing you need to keep in mind is that hiring an actual digital marketing agency is leagues better than having a freelancer or even an in-house designer.
For a five to six-figure price tag, you are not hiring just one person to turn your vision into reality. You are hiring the entire agency with its experts to pool together their years of experience into creating a visual representation of your vision. It is also not unheard of for companies to spend millions for their brand, which includes their logo, web design, brand bible, print, etc. So spending five to six digits is a massive discount if you think about it.
The Bottom Line
Why is hiring top web design companies better compared to DIY and hiring freelancers? Even though the price tag is higher, web design firms have an entire suite of skills and experience that will help bring to life your brand’s identity.
Why do you need a web design agency? It is a question that people in this exact situation ask themselves every day. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get noticed in the age where social media is overflowing with marketing messages and stuff. Good website design will help your business attract the right kind of attention from the right people using modern and ever-evolving techniques – which is what design agencies can offer.
If you are after an evergreen website that will last for a very long time, I highly recommend working with a web design agency that has a good track record.