How to choose a web designer

 In Tips for Clients & Business Owners, Web Design

It could be your first time needing to engage in a web designer to design your company website. Are you clusless on where to start and how to go about with it? Here are some tips for you.

What Types Of Web Designers Are There?

I don’t think there is an “official” definition, so I’ll give you MY definition:

  • Website Designer – helps you to determine the page layout, graphics, text location and colors of your site, as well as the navigation and how pages will cross-link to one another. He may also do the actual computer programming and graphic art work for the site, or may hire out that work to a programming specialist. A Website Designer is the project manager for your site design.
  • Website Programmer – takes the design from the Designer and creates the code to make the site run. She is also responsible for all the technical stuff that happens behind-the-scenes to make sure the site works properly for your visitors.
  • Graphic Designer – creates the graphics for the site, including page layout, colors, etc. Think of this person as the “visual artist” for your site.
  • Internet Marketing Consultant – helps you to determine how your website fits into your overall marketing strategy, and how to get more traffic and sales from your website.

To begin creating your business website, follow these 4 easy steps:

· Set out your aims
· Calculate your budget
· Choose a web designer
· Choose a web hosting company

Set out your aims

Before you even begin looking for a web designer, you need to spend some time considering what you hope to achieve with your website. This is crucial information any web designer will need to know before starting work on your site. In order to establish your aims, ask yourself the questions listed below.

· Why are you creating a website?
· Are you selling a product or service?
· Does your merchandise change regularly?
· Who is your website aimed at?
· Have you got a brand?
· What industry are you involved in?
· Do you know your competition? Who are they?
· What do their websites look like?
· How will you accept payments? Will you take credit card transactions online?
· How quickly do you need your website completed?
· What will happen if you don’t have a website?

Take your time to go through each of these questions and write down your thoughts on each one. These are questions most web designers will want you to answer before they even begin creating your website. If you spend time now considering your aims and objectives, you’ll have a better idea of what exactly it is you want from a web design company, making the selection process that much simpler. For instance, if you own a restaurant, you’ll want to choose a web designer who knows about the industry and has created websites for restaurants before.

Calculate your budget

Next, you need to consider your budget. How much do you plan on spending on your website? Typical costs vary greatly depending on individual requirements and which designer you choose but you could pay anything from $100 all the way up to $100,000. Set yourself a maximum figure beforehand and never, ever tell the web designer what this figure is! Ensure the quotes they give you are based on your requirements and not your budget.

Choose a web designer

This is perhaps the most important part of creating your website so take your time to find someone who is right for you. Explore all options and you may like to consider the points listed below.

Build vs. Design

Depending on the type and size of website you would like, it might be a good idea to choose two separate companies to create your site. Building a site requires expert technical knowledge whereas designing one needs a very creative mind so you may decide to choose a different provider for each principle. Some companies specializing in web design don’t offer any developing process whatsoever. Think of it like building a new home. You wouldn’t expect the construction workers to offer an interior design service as well. It requires two entirely different areas of expertise. The same principle is true for creating a website. The developer is the construction worker and the web designer is like the interior designer. However, in the IT world, you’ll find many builders who also claim to be interior designers. Always ask to see other websites created by the company or provider and ascertain the process they have for build vs. design. If they have no idea of the difference in concept, walk away. It would be like asking the builder to decorate and furnish your home. Ensure you have a detailed blueprint of exactly what you want as this will determine a more accurate price before work begins. Without this, you could end up paying a lot more than you had anticipated.

Assess Experience

Has the web designer created any sites similar to the one you require? How many qualifications or how much experience do they have? As with any other service in everyday life, you want to hire someone who has the necessary skills and experience to carry out the job to the highest possible standards. If you want to sell products or services through your website, ensure the web designer you choose has sufficient knowledge on creating an e-commerce site complete with the ability to accept secure credit card payments.

Examine their portfolio

Any experienced web designer should have a good portfolio of sites they have created for previous clients and you should always ask to see this. Spend some time looking through these and evaluating them. Are they well designed? Do they appear professional? Is there any particular style that you like? As well as examining the portfolio ask the designer for references from previous clients and follow these up. Contact the customers and ask about their overall experience with the web designer. Were they pleased with the results? Was the site completed in a timely manner? How did the designer respond to their input? Was the website costly and did they get exactly what they paid for? Was there anything they didn’t like about the company? Would they recommend the designer? It’s important to get definitive answers to these questions to ensure you make the right choice of web designer.

Compare Costs

As already mentioned, the cost of designing a website can vary greatly. There are usually three ways in which a web designer will charge for their services.

· Per Hour. This calculation is based on the actual time spent creating your site. The web designer will have a specific hourly rate and this will be multiplied by the time spent to give a final fee. For example, if the designer charges $50 per hour and it takes 100 hours to design your site, the total due will be $5000.

· Fixed Price. Some web designers will charge a set fee depending on your individual requirements. Once you have established exactly what you want, the web designer will quote you a fixed price to create your site.

· Component Pricing. This generally means charging by the page, so the bigger the site, the more you will have to pay. However, some web designers will charge additional fees for features such as animation or graphics, so ensure you know exactly what is chargeable before agreeing a contract.

It’s vital before going ahead that you get a complete estimate for all the work that needs to be done. All associated prices should be included and everything put down in writing. Always ensure prices are understood by both parties before signing any agreements. It’s a good idea to have a structured payment method whereby you release percentages of the total amount in stages as the work progresses, with a portion held back until the work is complete. Set milestones with agreed dates for each percentage and lay out terms for what will happen if these aren’t met.

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