There is a wealth of website designers from whom to choose, but which one is the best choice? This article provides some tips to help select the ideal website designer.
Many people are quick to say that building a website is easy. But for those short on time or expertise, or who want a very polished, professional-looking site in a relatively short period of time, a website designer may be the answer. However, there are so many designers from whom to choose. Here are some tips to help screen for the best person or company for the job.
Identify Web Design Needs
It is essential to define specific website needs before shopping for a website designer. Requirements range from a basic site so customers can find a place of business and contact information to highly interactive, multimedia sites. Think about whether the planned website will stay the same or change over time. Is there a need for continuous site updates by the designer? Write a list of the desired features of the website, then do a search for sites that might provide some additional ideas. For example, a writer would search for other writers’ sites and save printouts or screenshots of sites that are particularly appealing. Finally, it is crucial to get a handle on the budget available for website design.
Narrow the Website Designer Search
Check favourite sites for the web designer (usually listed in small print toward the bottom of the page). Narrow your choices by searching for local website designers or designers who specialize in a particular type of site (e.g., “writers web design” search).
The breadth of Web Design Experience
Start by checking out the overall look, readability, and navigation of the website designer’s own site (if they do not have one, that is a bad sign!). Website designers can range from college kids who create the occasional website to teams equipped with experts in graphic design, marketing techniques, writing and editing, the latest technology developments, and search engine optimization (SEO; using keywords or phrases to help drive traffic to a website). If the goal is to reach a wide audience, it is important to evaluate the prospective website designer for SEO skills.
Experienced web designers will provide samples of their previous work so potential customers can get a feel for what they have produced. If every page looks the same, it may mean the website designer favours templates rather than providing custom website designs. If the samples look good, also evaluate how many types of sites the designer has built. A wide range of customer types and website capabilities can indicate a high level of creativity, skill, and flexibility.
Availability of the Website Designer
As customers and website designers work together, many questions will arise. Seemingly simple issues, such as how visitors will navigate through the site, can end up requiring several rounds of questions and answers between customer and Web designer. New questions are likely to arise as the website develops, and it is expected that the customer will need some terms and concepts explained.
Ask a prospective designer about how he or she communicates with clients. Try to get a feel for the designer’s people skills as well as the demands of his or her workload. Especially if the planned website is relatively complex, it is important to find a designer that can be reached in a timely manner and who is willing to take the time to explain Website development.
It may be an advantage to hire a site designer that can meet in person, or at least be available by phone, rather than relying solely on e-mail exchanges. It may also pay to speak with some of the Web designer’s previous customers to see if they are satisfied with their Websites and how smoothly the process went.
Website Design Prices Vary Widely
When communicating with prospective designers, it is essential to be clear on the available budget as well as the expected time frame. Determine whether the designer will charge a flat fee or an hourly rate and whether they will provide estimates and itemized invoices. Do not forget to ask about fees for hosting, training customers on updating their own sites, and any other ongoing or special services.
In a nutshell, the best advice for choosing a website designer is the same, time-tested advice that applies to most consumer ventures. Be sure to identify the site’s specific needs and budget and evaluate what the designer has to offer. Perhaps most importantly, do not hesitate to ask lots of questions. A thorough search and screening upfront will pay off by finding the best website designer to meet your needs.