Choosing the right web designer or design firm for your project can actually make or break your company image on the world wide web. It is essential that before hiring a web person for your project that you follow the proper steps to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that you are confident in your decision to choose the right person or company for your project.
Step 1: Know EXACTLY what your needs are.
Before you can meet or speak with anyone, they will ask you a series of questions, which you will need to be prepared for. Its OK to not know EVERYTHING up front, because after all, a good web designer should also serve as a consultant and give you some advice or recommendations for your business website goals. But its crucial to know at least the following things before even contacting a consultant:
- Will you be selling services, products, or both on your site?
- Approximately how many pages do you think your site may be? For example, a SERVICE based site might only need 5-10 pages, usually consisting of: Home, Services, About Us, Testimonials, Before/After Photo Gallery, FAQ, etc. if you sell products, how many products do you estimate the site will display?
- If you sell products, what FEATURES/VARIATIONS do they have? For example, size, color, etc. The more descriptive you are, the better.
- What is your color scheme?
- DO you have a logo or need one designed?
- What sites have you seen that you LIKE/DISLIKE and why? This gives the designer an idea of your style.
- And anything else that is crucial to your business.
- Again it’s OK not to have ALL the answers but the better you come prepared, the better you live leave with answers and not more questions.
Step 2: Ask for referrals from people who are happy with their designers.
Just with anything, it’s ALWAYS best to start by asking for referrals from people who have had experience with a web designer. People always want to do business with someone they trust. You would be in a much better position also to call someone saying “Mr XXX gave me your number and they are very happy with your services, so I would like some information please”, rather than making a cold call and starting that conversation from scratch.
Step 3: Searching on the Internet or Social Media
If you are not able to get this or no one has directed you with some names or referrals, the next best step is to start searching online or through social media. NEVER choose the top few companies that show up on Google, as those are PAID sponsorship ads, and there is a reason they are on top. They have paid good money to be there and chances are their prices will follow along with those costs as well.
Step 4: Visit the web sites of a few companies
There are some factors you want to check out when going to their web sites, and these steps are very important in deciding if its a good fit for you.
- Is the company local to you (are they willing to meet in person?) Or do they want to work strictly by phone, email, internet? A company that is willing to meet with you IN PERSON will have a benefit over others because they prefer more “relationships” with their clients which is a good thing for the long run.
- Make sure you call a few companies that you are interested in and leave a message or send emails inquiring about services. See how long it takes them to get back to you. Reasonable amount of time is anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours. Anything past that they are either too busy or are not responsible with their clients. After all, if they are not excited about returning a prospects call, think about in LATER times when you need them.
- Check ratings. Today there are many sources available to help you do this. Google, Yelp, Facebook, any social media. See hoe they are active n all of these channels. No ratings, NO SALE! Please check all ratings and be fair about what you read. Bear in mind sometimes people post negative things which also make no sense. Web companies with good ratings – GOOD CHOICE! Also if there are negative comments, see if the admins responded to try and resolve issues because that also says a lot for the reputation of the company, that they care about their clients.
- Check their portfolios on their sites. ANY good web design company MUST have a portfolio on their site. Click on them and see the work they have done. See if anything they show is the style or type of project you are looking for.
Step 5: Have a REALISTIC Budget in Mind
Web sites can range in price, from low to high, depending on your needs. You CANNOT get a decent website built for under $1000 unless you are hiring a STUDENT to do your site (and you won’t be getting someone with experience). Realistically a good website can start at around $1,500 and go up again, dependent on your needs. Make sure you state your budget to the web designer. Many times, you can start with a smaller site and build onto it in the future.
Step 6: Ask the Right Questions
Again, depending on your needs, make sure you discuss the following options while interviewing a web person:
- Will they give you ACCESS to your web site so you can make your own changes? Beware if they answer NO. This is a red flag. YOU should have the option of paying the designer to maintain your site or if you wish to yourself.
- Will they be doing SEO (Search engine optimization) to your web site? Note: This is a VERY expensive thing to to and completely optional, GOOD SEO people charge $1000+ per month for SEO services, but if you’re not going with that option, make sure they get the web site SEO “ready”. That means at least they put SEO tags, name images properly, etc.
- Find out how much they charge for future services AFTER the site is built. Many will try and BIND you into a contract with a monthly amount. That is your choice if you would like to do that or if they charge for “as needed” services.
- Find out how much they charge for web hosting. Ask if you can host it in a place of your choosing or they host it. if you do not KNOW this company its best that YOU choose your hosting, because once on their server they have FULL control and this could be dangerous. If you trust them there is no issue there.
- Make sure they provide a contract. No contract, NO SALE. Another red flag. Look for comments like “don’t worry about it”, or “that’s our job”. You should be informed of everything they do, every step of the way.
- Ask if they provide a mockup, or what is their procedure to see a design feature before they move on.
- Ask how payments are broken up. Normal procedure is 50% up front and balance on completion, although some companies break into three payments for larger sites.
- Ask how long it takes approximately to complete the site – knowing that m,any times, they are waiting on your content so that might hold them up as well.
- Ask how future support and maintenance works on websites, as there are always updates needing to be done from a technical aspect.
Following these steps when choosing a web designer can help you feel assured that you made the right decision with your choice. We hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In these photos, me consulting with a client on my lunch break at a local Facebook conference.