Having an attractive and well-designed website is a crucial aspect of your business. Your website is typically the first impression that potential clients will get of your company. As such, you want them to be greeted with a site that’s responsive, user-friendly, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. But getting the whole website design process started can be daunting. How do you choose the best website designer for your business?
Research, Research, Research
If you start by doing a simple internet search for designers, you’ll be overwhelmed with hundreds of millions of search results. Truth be told, there is no shortage of website designers out there anymore. But instead of starting solely with an internet search, take the time to talk to friends, family members, or professional contacts who may have some recommendations to pass your way.
Should none of your close acquaintances be able to provide you with information on potential website designers, you might want to consider turning to your local Small Business Association. Many times, they’ll have lists of local service providers who have gotten good reviews from other small businesses. If that doesn’t pan out, then the internet will be your next best choice. Search for web designers in your area. You’ll have fewer results to sort through but there will likely still be quite a few. This process will take some time but don’t get discouraged. The time you spend researching web designers will be well worth it once your new site is up and ready to go.
Use a critical eye as you look at designers’ websites. Their sites should be representative of their skill sets. Anyone who has a site that’s not attractive, easy-to-use, or functional (for example, if you came across 404 or other types of errors while browsing) should be taken off your shortlist. Additionally, if they’re missing a section that shows their previous work, take them off your list. Their portfolio should show off a number of different types of designs that reflect the individuality of the companies in question. If all of their previous work looks the same, this suggests that they use a one-size-fits-all approach for all their clients.
Schedule Some Meetings
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to two or three potential designers with whom you’d like to work, it’s time to get to know them better. A good designer will take the time to learn about your brand and your business’ goals. If you already have website, they should have also taken some time to look at your old site prior to your first meeting. They will listen to what you want in terms of look, functionality, and features.
While discussing your new website, make sure that it will be responsive, or mobile-friendly. As more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet, search engines take a site’s responsiveness into account. If your site is not responsive, it will rank lower in organic search results.
What Type of Experience Do They Have?
Find out about the designer’s background. It’s important that they have a good working knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and marketing and that they use the best practices when creating your site. There’s also the question of who will be responsible for creating content or copy for your site. The answer to this question may vary significantly among those with whom you’re discussing the project. If they also provide content writing services, find out whether the cost of this is included or if it there will be an additional charge.
Will they be responsible for both the design and programming of your site or are there other team members involved? If there will be multiple individuals working on your project, feel free to ask to meet them as well.
Do you want to sell products on your site? If so, make sure the designer knows this. They’ll need to be able to integrate a merchant account into your site so that customers can purchase your products quickly and easily. Find out how they’ve handled the e-commerce needs of other clients. On a related note, what steps will they take to ensure that your site is secure? HTTPS is required for some website features, but it should be enabled throughout your site to prevent any misuse. Depending on the backend platform they intend on using, there may be additional security steps that can be taken to protect not only the site, but site users as well.
Pin Down the Cost & Timeline
As you iron out the details and the designer gets a better idea of what you’d like, he or she should be able to provide you with an estimated timeline for the project. Regarding cost, different designers will have different pricing structures. Some may charge a flat fee while others may charge by the hour. For those who charge a flat fee, go over exactly what that fee covers. You don’t want to be surprised by an extra bill if you request something that’s considered to be an additional charge. If your designer charges by the hour, they should know their abilities well enough to give you an estimated cost that’s fairly accurate. Either way, you should feel that they will treat your budget with respect and not try to upsell you or tack on additional costs. Let your potential designers know that you have a firm deadline for your site’s completion. Find out if they’ll be able to accommodate your timeline.
What About Future Needs?
Ask about website maintenance going forward. Websites need to be periodically updated and on occasion, portions of them might need to be completely changed. Will your site have an easy-to-navigate backend that you can use? If so, will the designer take the time to walk you through the system so you can take care of updates on your own? Alternatively, will they provide updates or site additions if needed? If so, will they charge for these changes? It’s also definitely worthwhile to inquire about their availability for future questions about your site that may arise. Issues with your site can come up at any point and you need to be sure that you’ll have the help you need when you need it.
You’ll want to make sure that once the site is complete that your designer provides you with any original source files. In addition, make sure that you will own the copyright to the site as well as the domain name. If you’re setting up a new domain name, your designer may take the steps of registering or setting up the domain. Find out who will be responsible for hosting services. Your designer may offer the option of hosting your site, but may charge additional fees for doing so.
Once you’ve gotten a good idea of how your project will move forward, but before you commit to a designer, take the time to talk to their previous clients. Ask about their experience with the designer, their satisfaction with the final product, and any other questions that will help you to form a good idea of the designer’s skill and professionalism. You can also check out their online reviews to see if they receive consistently positive ratings.
Make Your Selection
When all that is said and done, you should be armed with all the facts you require to choose the best web designer for your needs. Above all, your chosen web designer should be someone with whom you feel comfortable working and who is dependable, trustworthy, and committed to your project.
If you have more questions about web design or need help with a design project, Green Monkey Marketing is here to help. Give us a call at (720) 389-0564 or contact us to schedule your free consultation today!