Common sense tells us that the portfolios you see on any business web design site are the artistic equivalent of an athlete’s highlight reel – something that’s interesting and shows you a bit of potential, but that’s not necessarily the whole story.
In fact, if you want to get beyond simple layouts and find out whether a creative team is one you should actually consider working with, there are two important questions you should ask a few past clients:
1. Has your new business website been profitable? Even a beautiful site can seem ugly if it doesn’t attract traffic to generate sales, and one that looks ordinary at first glance can seem spectacular if you find out that it’s been a bottom-line workforce. Ultimately, you want to make money from your new site, so find out whether or not past clients have, too.
2. Would you hire this person or team again? This question is related to the first, but often goes deeper. For example, if the design team was wonderful to work with, you’ll hear nothing but high praise. If they got the job done, but the process was difficult, that will probably come through in the comments past clients make, as well.
Portfolios can be interesting and enlightening, but don’t make them the final word on choosing a business web design team. Instead, be sure to ask around and find out what you really need to know. It might not be as fun as clicking on a few images, but the answers you get will be a lot more telling.