Finding the Right Website Designer
Choosing the right website designer depends largely on the goals you want to reach. While price plays a role in decisions on choosing the right developer, other factors should weigh when assessing the fit between your company and the development firm. We have laid out ten ideas you may want to consider before hiring for your web-based project:
Ten questions for web designers:
- Despite being told not to judge books by their covers, we do judge businesses based on the aesthetics of their website design. Make sure you ask your potential web designer to show you their web design portfolio to gauge creative ability.
- One method used by developers to create websites quickly is to use pre-fabricated website templates. Nothing is more upsetting than to see another company using your website design. Make sure your developer employs an in-house artist capable of creating unique designs without using templates.
- Good websites are regularly maintained, yet hiring your web developer to make frequent edits can add significantly to annual costs. Ask your developer if websites are created with easy-to-use and built-in software to allow self-editing.
- Continuous website development is a must to compete in today's business world, and taking advantage of new techniques, customer-friendly enhancements, and functional data processing on the web means you need a company capable of handling the web programming needed to take you to the next level. In order to not "outgrow" your developer, make sure you ask your potential web development firm if in-house--not outsourced--programmers are on staff.
- As in considering upgrades to a new car's price, optional items affect pricing for websites. Understanding what is included in the base price is vital to make a fair comparison of website development costs. Ask for specific examples of website designs and layouts, learn what elements were included in the base price, and finally, find out the price paid.
- The web is full of linear website layouts using stock photography. While those present a professional appearance, they tend towards a familiar and hum drum look. On the web, snap judgments rule, and nothing forms the basis of that judgment more than the overall aesthetics of your website. If you want a website with real pizazz that represents your company, ask to see website samples that utilize 100% width designs, custom created graphics, and complex layouts such as multi-column configurations.
- Successful websites utilize functional elements that get your visitors to do something. For example, you can use discreet Flash banners to catch your visitor's eye and direct them to special offers. A "Join Our Mailing List" function attached to educational pages gives visitors an opportunity to be updated on any new material added to your website. Ask your website designer about creative ideas they can employ to engage your audience.
- Sometimes a plain Jane website can be enhanced using Flash animation. Unlike a few years ago, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers usually have the Flash plug-in installed. If you are generally happy with your existing design, ask your developer to suggest Flash elements to kick an attractive website up a notch.
- In order for a website to be available on the Internet, it must be "hosted" on a server or computer that is connected to the Internet. Most website developers offer hosting, yet even hosting services vary. For most, losing access to email hammers home the importance of a good hosting service. Yet while email outages might be viewed as inconvenient, losing your website's data could bring your company to its knees. Absolutely vital to your company's long term health--especially for those businesses that have invested heavily into building an extensive website--is a managed backup plan to keep website contents safe in the case of a server crash. Learn about your developer's hosting service, and get their backup plan in writing.
- "Website traffic" refers to the statistics behind the who, what, and why on visitors to your website. For example, it is important to know if your website is being "indexed" or tracked by search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Total visitor counts give a real measure of success, and you'll want to watch for a general upward trend in the numbers. Knowing if your page is book marked or saved as a favorite measures the success of your content. Ask your website developer what kind of statistics tracking tools they offer with the completed site.