8 min read

How Many Web Design Agencies are there in the UK?

Shape April 2022 HR 32
Updated on 13 Sept 2022


These days people have plenty of options when browsing online, so web design agencies have become more important than ever to ensure the success of a website, and the business connected to it.

Web design is the process of planning, creating, and arranging content on a website, and the process behind it goes far beyond looks.

Executed well, it’s the art of conceptualising and controlling all aesthetic elements — such as its colour scheme, imagery, and fonts — as well as shaping the site’s structure in a way that optimises the user’s experience of it.

A recent study showed that 38% of people will leave a website if they find it visually unappealing, and almost 90% are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience.

Good web design should offer an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and efficient journey for every user, from start to finish and regardless of their intentions with the site.

UK Web Design Agency Statistics

There are currently over 2.7 million websites active in the UK, many of which will have been built by one of the 2000 professional web design agencies currently operating.

The UK’s web design industry is worth over £575 million, and it has grown 3.7% just in the last 12 months

Reputation is a huge part of any business’s success and growth, and while before the pandemic some companies may have relied on face-to-face interactions to build a rapport with their customers, this became non-viable for most. Consumers now turn to websites to get their first impression of a business, and the use of a skilled and qualified web design agency has become more important than ever.

The pandemic forced many companies to reconsider their business operations, and closures during lockdowns will have caused a potentially devastating loss of income to anyone unwillingly to adapt. Web design agencies will have been utilised to augment previously existing websites with user-friendly applications such as online booking systems and contactless ordering features that allowed people to interact with and purchase from companies despite being stuck at home.

Around 90% of agencies have seen an increase in demand since 2020, with more people than ever understanding the importance of having a strong digital presence for a business of any size and from any sector.

The growth of the industry is even more impressive when you consider that UK GDP plunged by a previously unthinkable 20% in the same year, an all-time record. High street retail giants such as Arcadia, and Debenhams collapsed into administration, and travel giants like British Airways lost a staggering £5bn in the first nine months of 2020.

Web-only pioneers have been the success stories of recent years, with Ocado doubling its earnings, and video-conferencing service Zoom emerging from relative obscurity to become a household name valued at about £85bn.

All of this is to say, the importance and need for a well-designed site are quite clear, and many companies are employing the services of web design agencies to create or improve theirs.

Web Design Agency Roles

A full-service web design agency is essentially a one-stop-shop for all creative and technical aspects of website creation including development, design, branding, content creation, SEO, web hosting, and ongoing site maintenance and security post-launch.

A typical web design agency team will include the below:

  • Creative Director: The creative king (or queen!) of the agency, they’ll be the go-to for creative ideas and work well at leading a team. They’ll also oversee maintaining the agency’s values and ethos and ensuring these are both reflected in everything the agency creates.

  • Account Manager: Essentially the logistical director of a project from start to finish, they are the main link between the agency and the client and will be responsible for liaising with the team to ensure the best possible client experience.

  • Art Director: An agency’s Art Director is responsible for translating the overall business objective into a visual solution that caters for the client and the website’s intended audience. All creative work will be overseen by them, and no major design decisions will take place without their input.

  • Graphic Designer: Graphic Designers are responsible for curating the aesthetics of a website from logos to fonts and images, and any other visual assets required to fulfil any given brief. Their role can span many different projects and include everything from creating a visual identity for a brand to creating corporate brochures and everything in between.

  • UI/UX Designer: A website is made up of several different elements, and it’s the UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) designers’ job to solve all screen-based problems to make sure a website is easily navigable, enjoyable to use and fundamentally fit for purpose. Their major focus is functionality, and ensuring a site is as pleasurable and efficient as possible for every user.

  • Brand Designer: Brands designers are responsible for designing (or redesigning) an identity for a product, company, or service. Successful branding design should help an audience immediately recognise a company, its products, and its content. They exist to breathe life into a brand and give it a tangible identity. They’ll typically work very closely with — or in a smaller agency will fall under the title of — a graphic designer.

  • Web Developer: The tech geniuses of the agency, developers use complex coding languages to build the internal structure of a website and create any required features or apps that will augment the user experience. While their primary role is to ensure the website is visually appealing and easy to navigate, they’re also responsible for the website's capacity, performance, and any ongoing maintenance.

  • SEO Strategist: The search engine optimization process aims to increase a business's organic search results, driving organic search traffic to the site. Good use of SEO will result in a website ranking higher organically in Google, which leads to increased site traffic, interest and ultimately sales. The SEO Strategist's role is to create and execute a tailor-made strategy that aligns with the client's business needs and goals.

  • Content Writer: Content writers are responsible for creating informative and engaging written content to help brands showcase their products, services, ethos, and ultimately their personality! This can involve the creation of everything from press releases to long and short-form articles, blog posts, promotional materials and more.

All successful web design agencies will house a skilled team who complement each other and can work well together to create a stylish yet simple to use website, fill it with high-quality content and assets, and optimise it via SEO to ensure it is seen by the right people.

Who can use a Web Design Agency?

If you need a website, pretty much anyone!

An agency that caters to a broad spectrum of clients and business sizes will work with everyone from small independent businesses or bloggers to large multinational companies.

Whether the project requires an eCommerce platform, an event booking system or is simply an informational site, a good agency should be able to cater to all business’s requirements and goals.

While some agencies like to work across a range of industries, others will specialise in a certain field, where they can focus on knowing their potential client’s target audience inside out, helping their clients to more easily make a mark in their chosen area.

Whether it’s food and drink, fashion, music, events, travel or more, there’ll be an experienced web design agency out there to suit.

It’s a big task but following our tips, you’ll be able to make the right choice confidently and effectively.

Another consideration will be agency size, and it’s not something that should be overlooked. There are pros and cons to choosing a large agency over a smaller team and vice versa.

A larger, established agency will have access to a larger pool of talent and resources. They’re likely to have a more diverse portfolio and may have worked on a project in your industry before (saving time on the research phase of the process). If you’re looking for award-winning designers and developers, power, and speed (and have the financial resources), it can be a more attractive option.

Conversely, a larger agency often won’t be able to give you the personalised experience you may want or require, as tasks can be passed from team to team and often no one person takes ownership of the project. This can negatively impact the branding message and final result.

With a smaller agency, you can expect a more bespoke, personable, and unique experience where you feel heard at every step of the process. Smaller agencies tend to have a more close-knit culture, where people spend plenty of time together, working and getting to know each other. These kinds of relationships are key to creating a team that understands each other and who can work extremely well together. This will ultimately show in the quality of work produced. They can also be a more cost-effective option, a big plus for a smaller or new business that’s keeping a close eye on its budget.

The Future of the Web Design Industry

Web design continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and web design and development professionals are finding themselves in a job market crying out for their skills, allowing them to command highly respectable salaries.

Online shopping accounted for 32.5% of all UK retail sales in 2021, and reports show UK consumers spend more money online on average than any other country in the world, helping drive eCommerce to £160 billion last year.

Online is clearly the place to be, and with swathes of businesses launching or expanding online, many will be heading to a reputable web design agency to help them create an intuitive, attractive website that suits their needs.

The demand for quality web design isn’t going anywhere fast, and we can say with some confidence that the number of agencies will only continue to rise.

Hello, I'm Natasia, and I'm a content writer for Shape.