Top 5 Web Design Agencies In The World — January 2022

A list of the best web design companies and web designers to hire for your next website project.

Updated January 8, 2022

A website is the most critical business tool for any company in 2021. Your web presence is also how people see and experience your brand, so you should treat your site as a strategic asset, especially now, when online is a way of life.

While there are many web design tools and freelancers who can build a simple website, professional website design agencies can take your web game to the next level. We’ve handpicked five web design firms that can deliver a world-class website to elevate your brand and business on the web.

Clay — a website design agency
Clay — a website design agency

Clay is a beloved web design agency in Silicon Valley that combines user experience and brand identity to create websites that excel functionally and aesthetically. Based in San Francisco, they partner with the world’s largest companies and bleeding-edge startups on website design projects ranging from corporate marketing sites to immersive web experiences.

Team size: 60+ people
Clients: Slack, Snapchat, Amazon, Facebook, Coinbase, Cisco
Notable project: Marqeta

Huge — a global website design company

Huge (as their name suggests) is a large digital web agency headquartered in Brooklyn and has many satellite offices worldwide. They began their journey in the early 2000s, mainly designing and building websites. Now, they offer everything under the sun, but web design and development is one of their core offerings to date. Hire them if you believe that size matters.

Team size: 1200+ people
Clients: Google, Spotify, Hublot, Zelle, Shipt, Nike
Notable project: Verizon Blockchain

Work & Co — a digital design and web development agency

Work & Co works hand in hand with their clients to design and develop category-defining websites. They’re truly an exceptional web design agency known for their partner-led, hands-on approach. Their web designers favor modernist aesthetics that they widely apply in their work. Founded in 2013 in Brooklyn, the website design company now has 6 locations around the world.

Team size: 350 people
Clients: Apple, YouTube, Nike, Google, Mailchimp, IKEA
Notable project: NYC Live Subway Map

Firstborn — a web design firm in NYC

Firstborn is an NYC-based web design firm that lives by the “Less Talk. More Rock.” motto. Their experienced web designers and developers shape brands for a connected future. This means they deliver not just websites but a wide array of digital products, including mobile apps and AR/VR experiences. They’ve been rocking since 1997 and not planning to retire.

Team size: 42 people
Clients: Adidas, Foot Locker, Royal Caribbean, Flexport
Notable project: Beats by Dre Flex

Instrument — a web design and brand agency
Instrument — a web design and brand agency

Instrument is a web design company and branding agency based in Portland, OR, and NYC. They have a cross-disciplinary team of website designers, technologists, and strategists to ensure they’re delivering innovative yet high-quality digital products. It’s all about enriching the human experience to them. A few years ago, they expanded to NYC by acquiring ThisAlso, a Brooklyn-based brand and web design agency.

Team size: 400 people
Clients: Dropbox, Sonos, YouTube, Patagonia, Xbox, Tumblr
Notable project: Levi’s

Ready to hire a web design agency? We sifted through dozens of common questions asked by the people looking to engage a website design company or build a website. Read the tips below before you start your search!

It can take a lot of time and effort to find a website design company which is a good fit for your project. Before picking your creative design agency, you will spend many hours researching them online since web design is a saturated niche in design.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Once you have a shortlist of potential web design agencies, these are the next steps to take:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the company, using their social media and website. Do you like the usability and aesthetics of their website? Is their message clear or confusing? How do they describe themselves? When was their website last updated? What work have they done and who are their past clients?
  2. Their website is a good place to start because it gives you a good feel for the agency. If their website is buggy, never updated, or hard to navigate, that is a huge warning sign. Also, take a look at their social media. If they often post and have followers, that means they have a good reputation and are active. Check out their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feed for a glimpse into the heart of the agency.
  3. Look at their website design portfolio. A deeper dive into their web design portfolio is always a good idea, so you can see what kind of work they have done for others before hiring them for your own project. Look beyond the detailed case study. See what the live website looks like. Is it mobile-optimized and user-friendly? Does it perform well? The site should work perfectly as well as look inviting.
  4. Figure out your budget. Set aside a budget and then you can find an agency that can do the best possible job for that amount. Look for smaller boutique agencies if you’re on a limited budget. They can provide great work at a moderate price. Pay well and they will go out of their way to do a perfect job since most web designers aren’t good at sales and will often agree to your terms and then have a lack of interest in the project.
  5. Consider a freelance web designer or local web design company. Offsite firms can reduce costs but don’t forget your local options. A lot of the time, local agencies will be a better fit, culture-wise, even if they aren’t as cheap. You will also be able to have regular face-to-face meetings to eliminate the issues that can crop up with remote collaboration.
  6. Check online reviews and ask for client references. Due diligence is always crucial, even if the company you’re looking at seems to be professional and offers great examples of past projects. Check professional review websites as well as reviews on Google and so on.

The following questions are often asked by those seeking to hire a web design firm:

Q: How much do websites cost in 2021?

A: Although you can find plenty of information online about this, the numbers do vary and tend to depend on the size and complexity of your project, as well as the reputation and location of the agency. Let’s take a closer look at this, using some real-life examples:

  • An offshore website design agency (perhaps one in India, Latin America or Eastern Europe) will charge between $45 and $70 per hour depending on their reputation and skills. Expect to pay about $60 per hour for consistent communication and good quality work. Expect a bill of between $25,000 and $40,000 total for a basic 4-page website if you’re using an offshore web designer. If you want more pages, require specialized skills or your project is more complex, it should cost closer to between $45,000 and $60,000.
  • A US-based web design firm typically charges $150 to $300 per hour. US locations (NYC, LA, and San Francisco) tend to charge the most. Even a basic website can cost an eye-watering $250,000 to $500,000 at those prices and if you want a total web design and development of an established website’s corporate website the price might even exceed $1 million.

Q: How much do agencies in San Francisco and NYC charge for web design?

A: You can find out online the cost of such a project. The average cost of website design can be about $10,000 for a website built by a freelance web designer or $50,000-$70,000 if hiring a web design agency. Although this figure applies to Eastern Europe or India-based companies, you are looking at much more if you choose an agency based in the United States, especially one in San Francisco or New York.

The cost of living in the US, especially in places like San Francisco, NYC, and LA is one of the highest on the planet. Also, every local web design agency is competing with the best companies in the world for the same talent. This means depending on the experience they can expect to make somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 a year.

There can be confusion when a client reads online that $40,000 is a typical price tag for web design services but they are charged ten times that amount because they are in San Francisco, NYC, or another expensive US city. Despite the price, it still makes sense to choose a local agency because nobody else understands the nuances of the culture quite as those firms do.

Q: How long does it take to build a website from scratch?

A: Of course a lot depends on the website you’re looking for, along with plenty of other variables. If you’re a SaaS startup looking for a standard website you will need various pages on the site including a homepage, about us page, contacts, products, and maybe a couple of others.

Depending on a website agency’s level of expertise, they might begin with a couple of weeks of discovery and research enabling them to better understand your requirements and goals, gather design references, and analyze the competition. Next, they will work on wireframes so they can establish web design concepts and core layouts in order to figure out the feel and look of your future website. That will take another four to six weeks on average.

Once the concept is established, the next step is to move along with designing animations, graphics, photos and/or videos, plus creating a responsive design for every page. For this hypothetical website, you can expect around two months for the design production process.

Content management system integration and website development can be done at the same time as the website design production, taking somewhere between six and ten weeks to complete, depending on technical requirements.

So to summarize all this, a basic customer site with about 6 pages can take around 16 to 18 weeks from beginning to end. Be careful of website designers who make claims like ‘we can do this in 3 weeks for $12,000’ because they might be using a cheap template they have already used for hundreds of other clients, especially US-based ones.

Q: Where are the top web design agencies located?

A: Often the best web design company will be whichever is nearest to your location. Hiring a local company means you don’t have to worry about language barrier problems or cultural differences. It also eliminates a lot of remote work inconvenience. There are several cities in the US, such as New York, LA, San Francisco, etc, as well as in Europe with many web designers and top creative agencies concentrated in one area:

  • New York City: A lot of financial services companies and fashion brands call NY home. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this city has many traditional digital marketing companies who also design websites and run their clients’ campaigns. Freelance web designers based in New York, especially Brooklyn, are often readily available and have a lower price point than agencies.
  • San Francisco: Tech companies from startups up to industry leaders can find web design firms based in the San Francisco bay area. These design companies are experienced in creating websites for apps and startups. They will merge user experience and the brand to make an excellent website for the client.
  • Los Angeles: Plenty of digital marketing at this location revolves around the music and movie production industries. A lot of creative agencies based in LA specialize in interactive internet experiences, especially video, 3D, and special effects, since most of their clientele is music and movie artists.
  • London: You can find many traditional companies based in England’s capital, including fashion, consulting, and finance operations. London is famed all over the world for brand identity companies and the high-quality websites they can create.

Q: Where should I look online to find top web design firms?

A: Web design is the most popular element of information technology and digital design. For this reason, there are plenty of awards and communities recognizing top web designers and mobile app designers. Look at Dribbble and Behance to find anybody from top web agencies to freelance web designers offering their services.

Top web design companies often submit their work to various web design awards so they can gain recognition among their peers in the industry. Awwwards, The FWA, CSSDA, and the Webby Awards are just some of the most respected web design awards.

Look at a web design agency’s process to get a good feel for their competency. The best design agencies will work as a team along with your digital marketing department. They will be open and transparent about every step.

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

The following are typical web design process steps that you can expect from a web agency:

  1. Discovery: Any web agency worth its salt will begin with workshops with the client to understand their goals, transfer knowledge, audit the current website, define the target audience, and compile all the requirements they need for the project. The user research part of the team will probably interview your customers to discover their motivations and requirements. Web designers should be a part of that process to get the correct perspective. Some clients might feel doubtful when it comes to investing in discovery but it’s actually the most important part of the entire web design process.
  2. Research: The next phase, research, typically involves analyzing competitors’ websites plus general trends in industry web design. The web designers will compile an in-depth report which covers their recommendations and best practices as well as design inspiration mood boards.
  3. UX Design and Wireframing: Any good web designer in 2021 must be a talented UX designer first of all. Usability is the focus of modern websites, more so than graphic design. Despite this though, you should expect a design company to make a customer journey map and sitemap to figure out how end users are going to navigate the website. After this, they can make a wireframe for every webpage to discover key layouts as well as content organization. Some agencies like to test the web designs on potential visitors to gain feedback early in the project before going too far with it.
  4. Design Concept: Next up is all about aesthetics. While the previous step concerned user interactions and experience, this is about your website’s look and feel. The web design agency will explore web designs and graphics based on your brand identity and their research. They can also run these designs by customers to see which they prefer.
  5. UI Design: After the design concept and wireframes are done, the web designer then proceeds with UI design production. They will make their final responsive design mockups, animations, illustrations, and other assets required to begin web development.
  6. Copywriting and Content Creation: A good website must have good content and that’s just as important as great web design. You should have a solid idea of what your website must convey in order to get the best results from the design agency you hired. After that, you will collaborate with an agency copywriter to polish up your message and then produce the final copy. This all needs to be done before the website is designed.
  7. Web Development: Web developers have to convert all designs into JS, CSS, or HTML coding. You might want to manage existing web pages or add new content without having the developer do it, so you have to implement a content management system (CMS). There is no need to go into much detail about that here since this guide is about web design, but it’s still worth hiring a US-based company instead of an offshore one for this project.

The web design agency will continuously review the work and work in progress from the developers to make sure what they are implementing is compatible and consistent with the designs they are creating. It is also vital to follow web accessibility standards to make sure the website is optimized for visitors with disabilities.

Before your website is launched it must be thoroughly tested and bug-free. Regardless of how nice your site looks, it isn’t worth much if it performs poorly or doesn’t work right. Even if you hired the best professional web design agency, you must double-check their work for typical web design mistakes they might have missed.

Another good way to optimize the website before releasing it to the public is usability testing. You don’t even have to hire a costly web design agency to do that for you. Let your family and friends test-run the site to get their feedback. Also, recruit a small group of five to ten unbiased users.

Photo by Diggity Marketing on Unsplash

Even though there is nothing magical about a website, it’s possible for them to work magically sometimes. A well-designed website can help a business to grow its customer base by itself. So, how exactly can that happen? A website that has been developed and designed from scratch by a reputable and trusted digital company is more likely to be successful.

These companies have plenty of website designing experience as well as knowledge of how to design them from beginning to end and how to get them working perfectly. Web design companies focus on building the right user experience to convert more visitors into customers and create a site that users will like, using the best up-to-date approaches.

Having a website doesn’t naturally mean your conversion rates are going to increase though. You need to have a website built in a way that ensures visitors will want to become customers. If a visitor finds the website simple and pleasant to use without problems or confusion, they will develop a positive feeling about the company, service, or product, and data supports this fact.

Conversions are vital for a company’s web presence, as every converted visitor is a new customer and customers are the best advertiser you have. They will tell family, friends, and even strangers online about businesses, services, and products they like.

A word-class web design agency is going to offer more to you than just a well-designed website that wows customers, positions your brand as a leader, and sells your products or services.

They become part of your digital marketing team and will help you with every element of running your business on the internet. From website updates and maintenance to SEO tips and conversion optimization, a good digital web or marketing agency is going to have your back at every stage of the project.

Thanks for reading!

Seasoned UX designer and amateur writer