Business

Best Chicago Web Design Companies This Year

If you’re visiting this page, there’s a high chance you’re a CEO, business owner, or an aspiring entrepreneur looking for a Chicago web design company that can meet your needs.

Although you could design or redesign your website yourself, you probably realize that doing so puts you at risk of falling behind your competition. This is especially true when 73% of companies are investing directly in web design to differentiate their brands and are generally rated more highly for doing so.

That’s why we’ve created this list, which gathers thirty of the most innovative and unique web design companies in the city. Many of them are award-winning, and each offers something different, giving you a truly unique experience every time.

Whether you’re a small B2B business or a large B2C concern looking for a web design makeover for your international clients, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for somewhere on this list.

What Does a Web Design Company Do?

Before we jump into what web design companies or web designers do, it might help to know what exactly web design is all about. It entails the process in which the aesthetic look of a web page is established. This includes how the design elements are rendered and how content is displayed.

With that in mind, Chicago web design companies usually focus almost exclusively on the aspects of the website that are visible to the users. In other words, web designers concentrate on the front-end or user interface of a web page, instead of the back-end elements that aren’t visible to the user.

Websites work best when they appeal to users–it’s all about the aesthetic appearance and usability of the website. As a result, web designers are typically engaged with designing, curating, and polishing everything from imagery and photography, buttons, color schemes, fonts, calligraphy, shape language, and so on. They’re also responsible for how all these design elements are arranged and presented as the user interacts with them.

As with any aspect of website creation, web design is a tool-heavy process. Web design companies make use of an assortment of techniques and software tools (like Sketch, Photoshop, and InDesign) to generate design prototypes and mockup files.

Let’s break down exactly what web design companies do to make web pages come alive:


  • Create graphical elements – Web designers are responsible for constructing the overall appearance of a web page or the entire website. They use JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and images to do so. Using their knack for choosing eye-catching color schemes, designers structure web pages so that they’re user-friendly, intuitive, and aesthetically appealing to the users.
  • Create cohesive user experience (UX) While the development team is responsible for building the UI (user interface) of the website, designers create a smooth user experience. They use design elements like buttons, images, colors, transitions, and so on to create a cohesive UX.
  • Craft the visual layout and design – Designers are responsible for optimizing the aesthetic, hierarchy, and visual communication of the website by arranging and ordering web content. The result is a visually attractive layout and design.
  • Create responsive/mobile-friendly designs – They help design fully responsive and mobile-ready web pages on mobile. Behind the scenes, they design the look and feel of tablet and mobile versions of websites or web pages.
  • Multimedia editing – Web designers edit photos, imagery, videos, and other media assets that will be incorporated into the web pages.
  • Formatting and testing – Once they’ve created designs based on formatting languages like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, designers also test and implement them in relevant browsers.
  • Generating exportable design assets – Most Chicago web design companies are also tasked with layering their design prototype files. This process makes it easy to separate and export each web page element so that developers can turn them piece by piece into finished web pages.
  • Collaborating – Web designers also work with everyone involved in the website creation process, including website strategists, copywriters, UX designers, and developers.

It’s worth saying that web design companies usually don’t write code, do market research, produce web copy, take photographs, or work on website branding.

What Is the Difference Between Web Design and Web Development?

When people talk about building websites casually, most people often throw around big-sounding terms like web development and web design. Even though the two terms are usually used interchangeably, they are actually very different when you take an incisive look at both.

If you’re looking to have your website redesigned or built from the ground up, it really pays to know the difference between web development and web design. More vitally, you’d want to get the gist of what web designers and web developers do.

As far as website creation goes, web design encompasses everything to do with the appearance of the site and the underlying web pages. Web design companies in Chicago focus on the look and feel aspect of the website and auxiliary pages. Web designers, therefore, create and style the visual layout, objects, and graphic elements that the users see and interact with.

On the other hand, web development is the process of establishing the functionality and applications of the website and core web pages. Web developers are, therefore, responsible for the website elements that you use, as they take care of the applications, functionality, and bring the design mockups (created by web designers) to life.

Web developers use a variety of programming tools and coding languages like PHP, HTML, Java, etc. to hard-wire the web design into interactive and dynamic web pages. It’s thus the collaborative work of the web designers and developers that make the making of websites possible. The question is not to choose either, but rather you need both website specialists – choosing between a web designer and web developer is like comparing apples with oranges.

To cap it off:


  • Web design focuses on the website the user sees
  • Web development concentrates on the website the user uses

Do Web Design Companies Handle Development?

Although it’s typically a standalone service, some Chicago web design companies offer web development services, as well. In fact, the vast majority are full-service agencies that take care of everything you need to create a fully responsive and robust website, from design and development to content creation and search engine optimization (SEO).

At our Chicago web design companies, you’ll find a fully-fledged team of web specialists that may include:


  • Web strategist This strategic team member carries out thorough market research to define the business goals for individual web pages (like landing pages) and overall site.
  • User experience (UX) designer This specialist creates the wireframes (skeletal designs of the web page layouts). They also optimize website elements around user needs and behaviors.
  • Copywriter – As the name suggests, the copywriter is responsible for content creation for the website, including descriptions, body copy, headlines, etc.
  • Graphic designer – This person is responsible for the visual branding elements of the website, such as the typography, color palette, icons, illustrations, logos, fonts, and so on.
  • Web designer – As we’ve already noted, the designer focuses on all the website visual elements and converts wireframes into final web page designs.
  • User interface (UI) designer – The specialist is tasked with designing forms, buttons, navigations, and other interactive elements.
  • Front-end and back-end developers – Front-end crew use code and formatting languages to create the side of the website that you see, while the back-end developers are responsible for whatever goes on behind the scenes, like databases.

How Much Does Web Design Cost?

The cost of web design does vary greatly, ranging anywhere from $100 if you want to try to do it yourself, all the way up to $100,000. While designing your own website may be the least costly route, it’s best to entrust the process to specialists, especially if you don’t have the necessary expertise and design tools.

Effective web design doesn’t come cheap. But there are diverse factors that can influence the cost of designing your website. The two major determinants are:


  • Who’s designing your website – If you’ve got the skills, you can design your site cheaply, with tools like Squarespace and Wix costing as little as $10. However, for better results, you may have to resort to an agency, where you’ll be charged anything from $5,000 to $75,000 or more.
  • Size and complexity of the website – A custom design for your simple website will set you back $15,000-$30,000 at a well-established Chicago web design company. A larger, more complex website design will cost from $40,000-$75,000. However, enterprise-level website designers can really cause a big dent in your bank account, sometimes going beyond $100,000.

You must also factor in other things, like the website’s functionality features, style, and additional services. Copywriting, site style, SEO, development, ecommerce integration, hosting, SSL implementation, and CMS integration will add thousands of dollars to the bill in extra expenses.

What Skills Does a Web Designer Have?

When you want to choose the right web design company in Chicago to handle your project, it’s vital to check what skills their specialists bring to the table. A web designer’s job is to bring out the best of your website’s look and feel, so they must have apt skills and tools to do so.

Non-technical skills like communication, collaboration, and patience can also come in handy during the actual design process. So, what skills should you look for in a great web designer?

– Ability to learn quickly and keep up with the latest industry best practices

Given that web design has been around for well over two decades, design standards, conventions, and best practices have evolved over time. A good web designer must be able to follow user behaviors and trends, as well as adhere to the latest industry best practices.

They must be able to adapt new and more innovative design approaches. This can not only be gained in part through hands-on experience and studying user feedback, but also by paying particular attention to shifts in the industry.

– Imagination and creativity

For a business, the aesthetic appearance of the website can be a competitive advantage. It takes a lot of insight, creativity, and imagination for the web designer to create unique and interesting designs that help build brand awareness and make your business stand out.

– Patience

Creating compelling web designs takes time. Your website’s designer must collaborate with other specialists and you, the client. The designer must be patient and encourage you to trust in the process.

– Well conversant with the principles of design

They must be experts with the best design principles for websites and able to apply their insights to your project.

– Software skills

WebFlow, Figma, Photoshop, XD, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Spark are only a few web design tools that the designer must be well-versed in. These skills will help the designer in photo-editing, iconography, and creating graphic elements.

– Attention to detail

A good Chicago web design company must ensure that its specialists have impressive attention to detail. Creating fully responsive desktop and mobile designs calls for nothing short of razor focus.

– Technical ability

The best web designers have in-depth and hands-on experience with a range of formatting languages like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Essentially, they should be adept at harmonizing colors, images, copy, and text into visually appealing designs.

– SEO knowledge

SEO is all about optimizing the website for better search ranking. The higher the site appears on search engine results pages, the more likely it is to attract increased traffic. It’s also a key factor for building brand credibility, establishing an online presence, and boosting sales.

– Communication

Communicating with clients and other specialists involved in website creation is crucial for the success of the entire process. It pays for the designer to have the skills to get the message across and stay in touch with others as needed.

Great communication skills will prove invaluable when it comes to pitching ideas, updating the stakeholders on the project progress, and making design presentations. The designer may also be involved in creating and editing content for the web pages they design.

Other competencies include excellent IT skills, analytical skills, typography, user experience (UX), user interface (UI), digital marketing skills, and time/project management skills.

What Makes a Web Design Company Good?

While Chicago web design companies are a dime a dozen this doesn’t seem like useful language for an article promoting Chicago web design companies., Chicago is home to dozens of superb web design companies, and many truly excel at what they do. These are web designers that deliver awe-inspiring design works that get results. But what really makes a great web designer?

Values collaboration – Web design is certainly not a fly-by-night this phrase suggests underhanded and potentially illegal. Please find another phrase process, and many collaborators need to play a part in making it a success. Thus, the web designer must have excellent collaboration and communication skills, helping turn client ideas into robust designs that can be converted into a beautiful website.

Possesses great listening skills – The client knows what they want, or at least what they want to achieve with their websites. The client must be able to communicate their ideas and business goals, making sure the web designer incorporates them into the designs. This won’t be possible if the designer isn’t a good listener or close-minded. Please rewrite, focusing on what the designer needs to have in listening skills rather than what the client is supposed to be doing.

Brings fresh perspectives and ideas – It’s not enough to listen to your client’s ideas. The best Chicago web design companies go above and beyond to add value and objectivity to the whole process. They aren’t afraid to challenge the client’s opinions and bring an external perspective to the design strategy, concepts, and ideas.

Focuses on responsive web design – As mobile usage continues to rise, it’s important to create web designs that work on tablets, smartphones, and other small screens. Web designers that excel in responsive web design create sites that get favored rankings in Google search and improve user experiences and deepen brand loyalty.

Provides an impressive portfolio – Knowing what a web design company in Chicago has done for other clients provides you with a clear picture of what they can do for you. Check the designer’s website for the range of services they offer, especially beyond web design. Can the design agency also offer SEO, development, content, social media, and other website services?

Don’t stop there. Be sure to read their case studies, testimonials, reviews, and white papers. As a rule, ask for their most recent references. This way, you can interview their references and establish if you’re a good fit with the web design agency.

Has a good reputation and track record – This is where you should pay attention. The worst thing you can do is hire any web designer only to find out that they deliver shoddy work. Or maybe the design company uses shortcuts that cost you dearly when going ahead with developing your website.

The best way to ascertain if the design agency is reputable is to hear what others — especially past clients — have to say about their experience. Check out Google reviews, Yelp, Clutch, and other review and comparison websites. A company that responds to client complaints and addresses their concerns will make for a better website design partner.

Provides diverse expertise – A Chicago web design company is as strong as its team. You must ensure the agency has a crew of experienced specialists that have worked on projects similar toyours. How much experience do they have in your specific industry or market? The team should at least have professional UX, UI, and graphic designers, but it doesn’t hurt to have SEO pros, content creators, and developers on hand.

Has well-documented web design process – A good web design agency in Chicago has a well-structured process for designing your website. They should have a roadmap for defining goals, measuring progress, and ensuring a post-launch strategy. The best designers have a clear design process that helps them keep an eye on the prize from start to finish. This plan must also factor in the latest best practices.

 

Interested in other digital agencies in Chicago? Check out our top list of firms in the following industries:

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