Choosing a web designer in today’s competitive Internet is not an easy choice, but it’s one you need to make and make soon. If you have any type of online business then you will need to have a web designer. For a personal website or blog, many choose to do their own design, but if you want to really stand out, a web designer is the way to go.
If you own a business and you need a website for that business, hiring a professional web designer is essential. Being a business owner your time is very valuable and limited. There may not be enough hours in the day to learn how-to design a great website, never mind how to market it after it’s built. It is best to get a great web designer and or a web design team and let them do it for you, while you focus on running your business.
What exactly is a Web Designer
Before we get into exactly what a web designer is, let’s look at some other skills that a web designer may or may not have, he may know several of the following or he may have a team that knows all of them.
Project Manager, that’s right, this is one of the most important things you should look for in a web designer, it should be at the top of your list. This includes how the designer treats you as a client, is he pushy, impatient and not willing to go the extra mile, or is he easy to work with, informative, helpful and willing to go out of his way to make sure your project is exactly like you want it? The personality of the person you are dealing with throughout your project is crucial to the success of your project. This is even more important if this is your first website and you know nothing about web design. Even if you are not dealing with a freelancer, you will more than likely be dealing with one person and this person weather they like it or not is your project manager.
Web Interface Designers design the graphics, layout and help choose the colors of your website. They are also, usually, the one in charge of the site’s navigation, typography, images and graphics and other visual elements used on the website. They usually have a degree in Graphic deign or a related field. Make sure you view their portfolio to make sure that their designs are recent, and fit the style you are looking for.
Website Developers do all the technical stuff to make sure your website runs properly. This includes taking the design of your website and coding it so that everything runs smoothly for your visitors. They usually are the ones that create a fully working website from a design created by the web interface designer. They create scripts that make the website do things, such as; record a form to a database or send a newsletter.
Search Engine Optimization Experts also know as SEO experts modify your website to have the best chances of ranking well in search engines organically, this means without paid advertising. They do research on many different aspects of your website to see how strong it currently is and how they can improve it to rank higher in search engines such as Google.com. Each of your web pages should be written with the reader in mind and then a far second for search engines. Since the recent Google Panda and Penguin updates, it’s very important that the content of your site is 100% unique and very useful, so that others will link to it, or share it via social networking websites such as Google plus, facebook.com, twitter and hundreds of others. But your content still needs to be correctly optimized by a highly skilled SEO expert for it to be truly effective. The more unique your content is, the more chance it has of ranking well.
Internet marketing consultants, don’t forget this this one, this is the person that will take your website from zero to hero, without him your toast. You need a very good marketing plan, as good as your budget will allow. Your marketing expert should do things such as:
- Provide current advice on the latest trends and issues concerning Google, Yahoo, Bing and anything else that is recently effecting the online marketplace
- Create effective email marketing strategies
- Create effective online advertising campaigns such as Google AdWords and banner advertising campaigns
- Create a Google friendly link building and social marketing strategy and a plan to implement that strategy, that is within your budget
- Any other online marketing, such as press releases, youtube.com videos and blog posts with the help of a writer
Web designers are sometimes the project manager for your website. They must take your ideas and use the above skills to create a website that represents your business on the internet. Web designers may possess all of the above skills or have someone who does it for them. Even if they are getting help from other freelancers or business partners, web designers should have a very good working knowledge of each of the skills listed about, so that they know of to integrate them all together as one website.
Some Tips On How To Choose A Web Designer
Local or Telecommute?
One of the first things you need to decide when choosing a web designer is your willingness to work over the phone and internet with a designer or do you want to stay local. Both have advantages and disadvantages. By staying local, you can meet the designer personally and see how he or she operates. In addition, they can visit your business to see how you operate. However, if you are willing to work with someone over the phone, you have a larger field of web designers to choose from, plus there is now software such as gotomeeting.com that will allow you to meet with web designers virtually, with screen sharing features that make it feel like you are in the same room. Also saves the trip to their office and there are less nerves involved which usually helps the project progress better.
Check their Work
Of course, the first thing you should do is get examples of their previous work. Normally a web designer will have a website right! So you will want to see that, and also their online portfolio, if they don’t have one, then don’t let them build your website. Look at the style of the websites they have designed and see if their style fits your business. Have they designed websites that are related to the industry that your business is in? Do they have a lot of testimonials on their site from past clients? Ask if you can contact a few of their previous clients as a reference.
Are They Organized?
Check to see if they have a planning process that leads you through the design, development and marketing phase. This can be very helpful as you work through the process together. Do they use a project management system or any design mockup software that is online that will aid the process? Do they have any outlines of their online marketing procedures?
Are They Interested in Your Project?
Pay attention on how many questions they ask about your business. If they are designing a site for your business, they should know your business intimately. This is the only way to be sure that the site they design fits and reflects your business. Keep in mind that a designer gets many estimate request per week, so he cannot spend too much time with you until he knows you are serious about hiring him. So if you are ready to hire a designer be sure to let them know so that they open up more to you and get the information they need to start your project.
Can They Do it For Themselves?
Ask about internet marketing and search engine optimization. It is nice to have a great looking site, but if people cannot find it through the search engines, you could be loosing a lot of customers. Ask them if their website is ranked high in search engines and for key phrases that are not very long and within their target market. For example if they are number 1 in their city for the key phrase “web design city name” then that is pretty good, even if they are in the top 5, but if they don’t show up within their own city ask them what they do show up for and if they can’t give you any proof don’t let them do your SEO. This does not mean they should not build your website, but it’s usually best to get someone that knows both well and can prove it.
So How Much Will It Cost?
Of course, you want to find out about the fees that they charge. While web designers will not be able to give you a good estimate until they have discussed the full details or your project. You should expect to pay $1500 – $3500 for a high quality design and layout for a 10 page site. Their fees will depend on how skilled they are, how well known they are and how many years they have been a web designer. The cost can increase depending on the features added such as a blog, a newsletter, a shopping cart, auto responders, SEO, as well as an ever increasing list of features that you might want on your website. Be sure to clearly state and write out what you want the designer to build then ask them to put it into a written contract that you both sign and date. This will solidify the agreement and each party knows exactly what has been agreed upon.
What Related Services Do They Offer?
Are they able to host and or maintain the site after they set it up? Some web designers don’t like to maintain a website after they design it. So be sure to ask about maintenance after the initial set up. If they do, what are their fees for maintenance? You may be able to get a virtual assistant (VA) that can hep you maintain the site for a lower hourly fee but keep in mind that they will more than likely be less skilled than the designer and could mess the site up if not supervised. If they are also hosting your website, ask them how much server space, bandwidth and email you are allowed and if you can move your website at any time. Also ask them if they will provide backups of your site and how often. When your website is finished and you have paid for it in full make sure they agree to give you all of your website files in a zip folder so that you have them for safe keeping.
Can You Update Your Own Site Easily?
If you decide to maintain the site yourself, be sure that it is created so that you can easily maintain it. This should not be a problem as most modern designers use some form of content management system. There are many different content management systems available such as; WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, DotNetNuke and many others. Also, you might have the budget for a custom developed content management system. All of these allow you to update your website will a simple to use interface that allows you to add, update and delete content to your website without any programming.
Protect Your Online Business
Be sure that you own the website address, known as a domain name, even if the web designer registers the website address (which I do not recommend). Also be sure that the contract states that you own the copyright to the entire site, except for the stock pictures and third party software as this is normally owned by whomever created it.
Also be sure to get the open source code for your website. This will allow you or another web designer to easily edit your website later on if something needs to be upgraded or fixed.
So How Do You Choose a Web Designer?
Choosing a great web designer is very important for your website. If you are sure to follow the above recommendations you will be able to do it fairly easily and have confidence that you hired the correct web designer. I personally recommend OmegaWeb.com but I’m a bit biased on that as I’m the owner, but if you want a free quote let me know with this form.