Search engine optimisation or SEO is another vitally important part of the whole process and definitely something that should never be overlooked. There are a lot of web design firms out there that can deliver you a fantastic looking website, but if it doesn’t even feature on google then it is pretty pointless. You will never get the site designed and it will be straight on the top of the search engines, but you will get a good head start if you are dealing with a company that knows a bit about this process.
I generally would recommend leaving the keyword research to the people that know what they are doing even if this mean another small expense, as it should pay in the longer term to do this. This is not always the case however and this can sometimes come as part of the package so is definitely worth enquiring about. Web hosting is also another expense that will be incurred. This can vary greatly from company to company and again the web design company may provide this, or if not you may require an external company to provide this facility.
I advise never to spend cheap on things such as this as it is vital for the smooth running of your online business, and you could lose a lot of customers with a poor hosting service. I have also previously made the mistake of choosing hosting that only offers email support. Well in the event of an emergency, no-one wants to wait for an email and this is where immediate telephone support is necessary. Online chat facilities are maybe a compromise but then I feel speaking on the phone is a lot easier, especially when my typing speeds are not so good.
In terms of where to locate a good web design company I would definitely recommend the internet for this and in particular a good search. This is mainly because a company that are placed on the first page of google gives a good indication of their knowledge with SEO and that is a must for your business to work online.