Top 5 Web Design Agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area — 2024

A list of the best SF Bay Area web design agencies and web designers. Hire the top website design firm in San Francisco for your project.

Chelsea Greene
16 min readSep 20, 2022

Last Updated on May 2, 2024

There’s a massive difference between making any old website and working with a top-tier design company to create something great. If you’re after the second option, you may have considered turning to San Francisco, CA. It’s the home of countless tech startups and the innovation that comes with them, so it seems like a natural place to turn to if you want the best of the best. But where should you go for the best web design services in the Bay Area?

To help you find your perfect fit, we’ll run through the five best website development and design companies, along with other must-know information. This includes which factors you should consider, what it’s like to work with a San Francisco web design firm, and questions you need to ask. By the end, you should feel confident enough to get hired.

How to Choose a Web Design Agency?

Whether or not you want to trust our recommendations for the best web design companies, it’s essential to know how to choose the right web design agency for your own needs.

One of your first considerations should be where you’re starting from and the kinds of web design services you’ll need for your project. Do you already have an existing website that you’re hoping to refresh, or are you starting from scratch? Do you only need help with the bare bones of your website, or are you looking for additional services such as graphic design or copywriting? Not all agencies cover these types of aspects.

Remember that even if you’re working with top web design companies, they may offer a different kind of service and process than you expect. If you want constant collaboration with an agency or to be more hands-off, you need to settle this beforehand, so there are no unpleasant surprises. The top web designers aren’t always the best communicators.

Finally, a practical consideration. San Francisco web design firms tend to be expensive, so you must consider your budget. Don’t leave it until the last minute to ask about prices.

The 5 Best Web Design Companies in San Francisco — May 2024 Ratings

1. Clay

Clay is a UI and UX design and branding company based in San Francisco, CA. The agency is a full-service firm, which means it uses UI and UX concepts to carry out a variety of tasks — from logo design to building responsive websites to carrying out marketing efforts for you. By combining aspects of branding with aspects of product design, the agency has managed to separate itself from the competition and keep its clients coming back from more.

It specializes in fintech and crypto companies but can also help a broader range of businesses — and with past clients like Amazon and Google and other names in the Fortune 100, you know you’re in safe hands.

Clay is a UI and UX design and branding company based in San Francisco, CA
Clay is a UI and UX design and branding company based in San Francisco, CA

2. Elephant

As an independent creative agency, Elephant prides itself on using creativity to drive change in the world and helping businesses to tap into new markets and take an innovative approach.

It has also taken this message into its team and has built a diverse workforce, ensuring that people from different backgrounds can make a difference. This is also great news for Elephant’s clients because they can pull from various perspectives, resulting in more original ideas.

Elephant works with both startups and major companies, and notable past projects include those with Beats and Twitch.

A creative company moving ambitious brands into new worlds
Elephant is a creative company moving ambitious brands into new worlds

3. Huge

With a team of 1,000 employees, nobody would say that Huge was lying when it chose its name. The company is based in Brooklyn and the Bay Area in San Francisco but has 13 offices across the globe, and it has been around since the early 2000s, so it’s not short on experience. But it’s far from complacent and always tries to do things differently — as shown by its decision to open new office space at a dock on the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

As a creative and web design agency, Huge offers its clients a wide range of digital services, including names like Gucci and Nike.

Huge is a full service digital agency headquartered in Brooklyn with offices worldwide
Huge is a full service digital agency headquartered in Brooklyn with offices worldwide

4. Ogilvy

Few names are more legendary in the world of copywriting than David Ogilvy, so you’ll be standing on the shoulders of giants if you choose to work with the company he helped to found (although Ogilvy merged with an agency from another marketing superstar, Edmund Mather).

Ogilvy is a New York advertising, marketing, and PR agency — and since it was founded in 1948, it has accumulated more than 100 offices and a huge team. As you might expect, this legacy means an impressive portfolio, including projects with everything from Twitter to Amnesty International to IKEA.

Ogilvy is a advertising, marketing, and PR agency
Ogilvy is a advertising, marketing, and PR agency

5. Designit

The name says it all here, leaving no ambiguity about what Designit can do for its clients. Its team consists of hundreds of different creatives located in various offices worldwide, from designers to analysts, who all aim to help brands create great work.

Designit also aims to make a difference in society through its work, considering itself a group of visionaries and entrepreneurs making a change. And it has worked with the Nobel Peace Center, so it’s fair to say the company is sticking to its principles.

Designit is strategic design firm
Designit is strategic design firm

How to Choose the Best Web Design Agency in San Francisco Bay Area

You don’t need to take our word for the web design companies outlined above as the top job choices. It’s time to run through key factors to consider when comparing different firms. Some apply to companies worldwide, while others are specific to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cost

In an ideal world, you could work with whichever web design company took your fancy without considering how much money it could cost you. But realistically, everyone has a budget, and the cost differences between different agencies can be significant.

San Francisco, CA, is one of the most expensive regions in the world, so if you’re not careful, you could be hit with a hefty quote. But don’t let that put you off working with a website design company in the area — we’ll run through some of the distinctions and benefits of a web design agency in San Francisco shortly.

Size

Some web design companies are just one-person shows subcontracting the bulk of the work. Others are organizations of considerable size with a whole host of employees. Then you get the boutique agencies that are somewhere in between — a core team is all involved with the projects.

All of these structures have their merits. Larger organizations may have more concrete processes, while smaller companies can offer a more intimate and personalized experience. Think about your priorities and which size firm you may be best suited to.

Experience

It’s not all about the size of a company. Some small firms may be brand-new startups, while others have decades of experience and are small by design to offer a more personal service.

Of course, just because a web design company has many years of experience, it doesn’t mean that it automatically offers the best development services. Check for testimonials or industry awards to see if they know their stuff.

Team

It’s not all about the companies — you also need to consider web designers as individuals. What are their qualifications? How long have they been working in the field? Do they have a specific style they’re best suited to? Ensure you know who you’re working with and what to expect from them.

This ties in with the company’s size because you’re more likely to work with senior professionals when you hire a smaller web design agency. On the other hand, go with a more extensive design agency, and you may end up working with junior web designers who don’t have the experience of the company’s executives or founders. It’s always best to check, though.

It’s not all about the companies — you also need to consider web designers as individuals. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
It’s not all about the companies — you also need to consider web designers as individuals. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Specialization

Different firms may focus on slightly different areas of web design. Some may be great at visual design and even help with logo and graphic design. Others may not offer this but are great at technical aspects, such as mobile app development and ensuring you have a responsive web design on all potential interfaces.

Then there are branding and design agencies that can help with your brand strategy and other marketing services.

Some companies may also focus on specific websites, such as WordPress web design or landing pages custom websites.

If you’re looking for a website redesign rather than creating a new website from scratch, you may be interested in consulting services to ensure your website is hitting the mark.

Whatever you’re after, there’s sure to be a firm that meets your needs.

Speed

Sometimes, speed is of the essence — and that may not be something a web design company can help you with if it’s fully booked for the next few weeks or doesn’t have the capacity or workforce needed to make tight deadlines.

You should always check if the design team you’re working with can meet your time frame.

Processes

Two web designers or agencies may take different approaches to develop a new website. For instance, one may involve you in every step of the process and ask for constant feedback, while another goes away and builds the new website after the initial consultation.

There’s not necessarily a “right” and “wrong” approach, but knowing what you’re signing up for is important.

Sector

Sometimes, you can benefit from working with a professional web design company familiar with your specific sector. In some industries, it’s essential to have a 100% professional website, while it’s okay to take a more casual approach in other sectors.

However, you don’t necessarily need to agonize over this too much — sometimes, the most creative solutions can come from web designers who are used to working with different industries.

FAQ on Choosing San Francisco based Web Design Companies

We’ve already gone through some of the most important aspects to bear in mind when comparing web design agencies. But how do these factors translate into deciding the web design company you want to work with? And is there any you need to know about agencies in San Francisco, CA, specifically?

We’ll answer these questions and more.

Why Are Web Design Agencies in San Francisco So Expensive?

If you’ve started looking for the right web design company and made a few inquiries to firms in the San Francisco area, you may have been surprised at how high the quotes you got were. So, what gives?

Cost of living

For one, San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world, ranking number 16 out of everywhere in the world. Therefore, any company based in San Francisco has to pay local prices for everything — including rent and the wages of any employees.

Naturally, they need to charge higher prices to cover their own higher costs, which is something an agency based in a small rural town or operating remotely from Bali won’t have to worry about so much.

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Photo by Joonyeop Baek on Unsplash
San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Photo by Joonyeop Baek on Unsplash

Better qualified employees

Being based in San Francisco, CA, doesn’t guarantee that a company contains a team of highly qualified professionals. However, it certainly increases the probability of this being the case.

A San Francisco Bay Area base gives you access to a talent pool of highly skilled professionals — many of whom may have worked as developers or designers for top startups or businesses. After all, the Bay Area is home to 7,894 scaleups (startups that have raised at least $1 million since their launch). No other city or even country comes closer to this figure.

According to the US Census, 58.8% of adults over 25 in San Francisco have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 36% of the country’s population. That’s a huge difference, and it’s only skimming the surface of the kind of talent you’re likely to find in the area. According to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, San Francisco ranks number 12 globally, which shows that it boasts policies to attract and retain the best human capital possible. This is due to factors such as the city’s excellent job market and the fact it’s known as a place with a high quality of life and some great schools. And since it’s so expensive, it’s a given that only the best can afford to live there.

Premium positioning

Every business has its target audience. For San Francisco, CA, agencies, the target audience in question is often a cut above the standard industry. The area is full of major companies like Adobe and Salesforce, as well as up-and-coming startups that have raised millions in their funding rounds and want to use it to invest in growing their business — including by updating their company website.

And since web development companies are aiming to attract premium clients, it only makes sense that they charge premium prices. Prices are an indicator of a company’s positioning and brand identity, so having higher prices is a way to indicate they mean business. If you’re not a Bay Area startup and want to invest in quality web design, that’s probably not what you want to hear — but the good news is that many of these San Francisco agencies are worth the money.

Benefits of Hiring a San Francisco Web Design Agency for Your Business

Although it’s possible to create a responsive website using a drag-and-drop tool these days, turning to a design company from San Francisco, CA, is a much better idea if you want the best results. Here’s why.

A more coherent strategy

It’s one thing to create a website that looks visually appealing to the average person and captures the attention of leads, but it’s quite another for that website to have the right strategy behind it.

When you work with a San Francisco design company, you know they’ll be thinking about all the essential questions. How will they use user interface and user experience considerations to ensure leads stick around? What will they do to understand your brand’s positioning and identity and communicate that to visitors? How will they appeal to your target audience through web design?

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

A modern design

As with anything, web design trends come and go. If you unknowingly use “old-fashioned” sensations on your site, you may turn away potential leads without realizing it.

But working with a San Francisco CA agency helps ensure that your web design is on the cutting edge and can impress anyone, even if they know about the latest design trends. This should be true of all web design firms, but nobody does it quite like San Francisco.

A more functional site

If you try to take shortcuts when designing your site, you might find that it doesn’t work across all devices and browsers. When you work with an agency in San Francisco, the team will ensure you have fully responsive websites that work in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari across mobiles, laptops, tablets, and more — all without glitches or errors taking web visitors away from web pages.

What Makes San Francisco-based Web Design Studios Different from the Rest?

As we’ve said already, the location of a creative agency isn’t a guarantee of the quality of its web development work. But a few factors differentiate agencies in San Francisco from just about anywhere else in the US. Some of the factors that make web design agencies in San Francisco so expensive are the reasons that working with them is so special. But in case you have any doubts, let’s spell it out.

They take an innovative approach

Every web design company under the sun (maybe even every business under the sun) likes to claim that it’s innovative and forward-thinking. But how many of them truly deliver on this promise?

The Bay Area is different and genuinely has a culture of innovation. It benefits from the network effects of having a vast array of startups and tech professionals (including web developers) in one place. As San Francisco’s reputation for being an innovation hub and the high number of work and education opportunities in the region grows, more and more innovative people will move there, which creates a snowball effect.

Plus, everyone in the area can bounce off each other, with events related to entrepreneurship and conversations about tech trends commonplace. As a result, everyone becomes more forward-thinking, so you’re likely to work with more innovative professionals than if you hire web designers from any old city.

They’re likely to have experience with top-tier firms

The standard web design company in San Francisco is more likely to have experience working with top-tier firms — purely because there are many companies of this caliber in the area. Targeting services to this level of clientele requires high standards, to begin with, and being able to keep up with and satisfy the people who work for them is a learning experience in itself.

You can, therefore, rest assured you will be working with a professional firm that knows its stuff and stays on the cutting edge of innovation.

The designers are more likely to have impressive portfolios

To make it in San Francisco, you need to be good at what you do since surviving is so expensive. As a result, the web design studios in the city tend to be precisely that: very good at what they do.

You can expect to work with many web designers with impressive resume and portfolio that includes projects where they worked with high-profile clients. They may even have worked for these kinds of companies as employees themselves in the past. Why work with a team that created web designs for local small businesses in their state when you could instead work with a design team that has helped the likes of Google and Apple? It’s a no-brainer.

Top Questions to Ask a Web Design Agency in San Francisco before Hiring It

We’ve already outlined some key factors when comparing one web design agency in San Francisco with another. But when you’re going through the vetting process to figure out which web design company you want to work with, how can you ensure that you make the right decision?

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Below are some top questions to separate the top trumps from the try-hards.

Do you offer full-service web design?

Two companies that call themselves web design agencies may offer different services, so it’s essential to ensure you know what you’re signing up for.

If you’re looking for a company that can help you build a modern brand identity and custom web design from scratch, you will need a full-service web design firm for the job. This is a firm that can help you with all of the following:

And maybe even more. However, if you’ve already handled some of these tasks with a previous firm or your in-house team, you may be better suited to go with a web design firm specializing in the specific area you need help with (e.g., visual design). Or, you might need a team to review your website and make the necessary amendments.

What is your research and review process?

Most agencies tend to follow similar processes when they’re developing and designing websites, but chances are that they won’t follow the same approach.

The research phase is essential in the web design process before the website begins to take shape. Ask an agency how it plans to get to the bottom of your brand’s story and identity (or create it from scratch). Will they review the sites for your competitors and figure out what makes you different? Interview you to understand every tiny detail of your business. Or something else entirely?

Many inexperienced businesses shy away from asking these questions since they’re not sure what the correct approach is. Still, it should be up to the agency to explain a research process that makes sense to you. If the response doesn’t convince you, it’s time to back off.

Who will be working on the project?

Suppose you go to an agency’s website and see they have a team made up of highly qualified designers with outstanding portfolios. In that case, it’s only natural to assume that these are the people that you’ll be working with to create your website. However, this isn’t always the case — especially for large organizations.

Will you be working one-on-one with a designer, or will there be a project manager overseeing everything along the way? Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
Will you be working one-on-one with a designer, or will there be a project manager overseeing everything along the way? Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Some firms will place their most impressive-looking designers on their websites to reel prospects in, even though many of their clients will be working with more junior professionals. This is especially true if you’re a smaller company.

If you’re working with a boutique firm (which typically has a smaller team), there’s a higher chance of working with the people you see on the site. Still, it’s always best to be sure instead of assuming.

Similarly, it’s a good idea to see who will coordinate the project. Will you be working one-on-one with a designer, or will there be a project manager overseeing everything along the way?

The Bottom Line

Finding the right web design agency in San Francisco is no easy task, and it’s not one that you should take lightly. Crafting the perfect website is a task that tends to require a lot of trial and error, so you need to work with a web designer or team that can both understand your vision and executes it.

But hopefully, the advice contained here will take you one step closer.

Thanks for reading!

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Chelsea Greene

I’m a designer that loves UX, fonts, and sunny beach days