There are many companies offering web design but not everybody has an actual web designer, this would be a person(s) that understands the user experience, knows how to design and apply graphical and ux elements and understands how to design a layout centered around the user and how they interact with your site on both desktop and mobile.
With the overall push by search engines (google etc..) for websites to provide the best user experience this area has really become quite important.
More and more recently we have taken over projects started by a ‘web design’ company that cannot or did not deliver the expected results. Mostly this has been down to a badly designed site with virtually no decent graphical elements, poor performance is also an issue but this would usually not be noticed until the site is live.
So how do you know if your new web design company will deliver? One simple way is to look at their current portfolio, how much design has been put into their most recent websites and what is the overall user experience like when browsing through these websites? Do they reflect the industry correctly, do they do enough to push the individual company branding?
Be specific in what you want, you want a high design site that provides a ‘great’ user experience, you want a site that performs at its best and has an advanced suite of SEO practices applied to it before going live so it is performing straight out of the box, you want design elements applied throughout the site that enhance and draw in the user, you want good design choices made in every respect because the site also has to reflect your brand correctly in your relevant industry.