How to choose a web designer?
Tips that may save you time and money
Welcome to part 2 in our series on how to create a successful business website. Yesterday we discussed how to choose a domain name, today we’ll look into how to hire a web designer or a web design agency.
Step 1: Searching for a Web Designer or Web design firm
- Do a search online for web designers + your local area. That way, you will find web designers that are local to you and that you can keep accountable. One way of suppressing cost is by looking for foreign website developers, but keep in mind that creating a website is never a once-off job. You will want updates in the future, your web designer will from time to time need to update the security of your site to prevent your site from being hacked, and you might want extra functionality.
- Always look at more than one web design company. Do you like the design of their site? Next, you should check out their portfolio. Do you like the style of the work they’ve delivered? Does the work look sufficiently different from site to site? If the answer is no, you are dealing with a company that only can create a generic, ‘one-look fits all’ site. If the answer is yes, you have found a design company that is flexible enough to cater for different needs.
Step 2: Conducting the interview
- When talking to a web design firm, really notice how much they talk about your business. This is a good indicator of what type of partner they will be in the project. If they try to close the sale too hard without showing interest in your business, they will offer little value. Only a firm that wants to know your business intimately will be able to represent your business as it is.
- Make sure you ask them if they do all the design work of their websites themselves. Some firms hire outside designers and only take care of the technical side of creating websites. That means that you are dealing with a middle man when it comes to trying to get your site designed, which pushes up cost and Chinese whispers can soon get the better of your project.
- Equally, ask them if they did the programming of the websites in their portfolio themselves. If the company doesn’t know how to program a site and hires third party service providers, you might be facing unpleasant surprises that the firm cannot solve easily. Programming a website isn’t that hard for a firm, but managing a third party programmer (usually in India) can lead to a number of accountability issues.
- Ask your web designers for a structured process on how they develop a site, clearly detailing every design phase. It will show you how organized they are. They should be giving your an opportunity for input with every step along the way, otherwise how could you make the site into an accurate representation of your company?
- Do they know about SEO? SEO is the art to have your site rank well in the search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Your site should be designed with the search engines in mind, so that you can be found online for your products and / or services.
- Also ask how you will be invoiced. Never accept a ‘payment up front’ arrangement. Instead, look for a deal where you pay 50% now, 50% after satisfactory delivery of the website. We offer payment terms of 30% at the beginning, 30% midway through and 40% payable 30 days after the website has been launched, giving you every opportunity to spot mistakes in functionality before you have to pay the full sum. It is important that you can agree with your web designer that you don’t have to pay on the day of completion, but that you get plenty of time (a minimum of 14 days) to ‘play’ with the live site to find if there are any glitches. This makes the web designer more accountable.
- Ask if they will maintain your site. The more dynamic your site is, the more it will need security updates, in order to make sure that nobody can hack your site. What are their terms, how much will you be charged on a recurring basis?
- Ask them if they offer technology that helps you edit your site yourself. You don’t want to have to call your web designer each time you need to update text on your website or each time you want to add an image. You should be offered a simple way to update your website yourself.
- Make sure that any contract states that you own the copyright of the look and content of the site and that you own the domain name.
- Tell your web designer what your deadline is and what sort of compensation they offer if they go beyond this deadline.
Your website is a crucial part of the success of your business. If you pay attention to the above tips you will find a web designer who will be able to meet your needs and help you make a success of your website, and in turn, your business.
If you’d like to talk with us about your website design project, please contact us.