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Choosing a Website Designer

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Choosing a good website designer is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make. Choose a bad one and you could be left out of pocket with a poor business image to promote, but choose a good one and your business will have an excellent grounding.

When choosing which website designer to go with there are certain aspects that require checking and questions to be asked:

Does the website come with a content management system?
If it doesn’t think strongly about whether you require one. Being unable to make text changes without sending over the changes to a web designer is time consuming and costly.

Check their portfolio
Look at the design of their websites, how fast they load, how they look in different browsers, and whether the sites have been a success. Don’t be afraid to ask to able to speak to previous customers – excellent web designers should be more than happy to provide you with references.

Agree on a fixed price for the project, not an hourly rate
Agreeing a fixed price is the industry standard but there are still some website designers out there that claim that they have to work at an hourly rate. Never agree to this. Paying hourly rewards inefficiency and you’ll almost always end up paying more than you should.

What happens if changes are required to the initial design?
Misunderstanding and bad feeling is sometimes created through customers asking web designers to make too many changes to the overall design. Clarify this process before going ahead – you should be able to request as many changes (within reason) that are required.

Never pay for everything up-front
If you’re paying builders to build a house you wouldn’t pay them all the money up-front. It’s the same with web design – the final installment should be due once the website is complete.

If they mention SEO see if you can find their other websites for particular keywords
Many web designers are mentioning that they can provide search engine optimisation (SEO) support as well as web design. In truth, few web designers fully understand search engine optimisation, and even fewer would be willing to dedicate the time to optimise your new site through researching appropriate keywords and working on link building. In short, if they mention SEO take a look in the search engines for yourself.

What kind of after-development support is provided?
It’s all very well having a website designed at a great price but if the after-sales support is priced extortionately then you haven’t got a good deal. Find out how much changes will cost, and if possible try to negotiate one month free support after your website has been completed – there are always unexpected changes that are required.

Ignore the size of the company
The web design industry is not about developing economies of scale. Size doesn’t matter. Often a smaller company will be the better choice as each project they undertake is more critical to their success.

Where are they based?
They don’t have to be based in your local area but it’s usually beneficial to have someone who is based in the same country. Having different working hours causes delays and is particularly frustrating when there’s a problem and your web designers aren’t even awake.

Feel free to ask about academic background and qualifications
Asking about these qualifications is fine but the answer shouldn’t give you your conclusive answer regarding whether to recruit them. Qualifications don’t create great designers – creative flair tends to come from within. Whilst qualifications do help with background functionality people who have taught themselves are often equally capable, and you can be sure that they enjoy what they do.

How long have they been in business?
This is important. You don’t want web designers that are around one day and gone the next.

Can they help with other marketing material?
Web designers will usually design your company logo but find out whether they can design your other marketing material as well, such as leaflets and letterheads.

How do they test on different browsers?
There are so many websites out there that are incompatible with certain browsers, and often the owners themselves aren’t even aware of the problem. Good website designers should check that the site is displayed properly in all browsers.

What security features are used?
No one wants to have an excellent website designed, build up a list of members, only to have a hacker destroy it all. Ask what the web designers intend to do about this.

Is the website database backed up?
Sometimes however much security you have an unfortunate incident or dedicated hacker can delete your database. Therefore check that your database will be backed up regularly.

Will you create your own unique design or customize existing design frameworks?
There are many standard design frameworks that can be used and using them is particularly appealing for web designers because of the time saved. Make sure that you’ll be receiving a unique design and, if not, that you’re paying an amount to reflect this.

What about hosting?
Find out whether the developers can host your site and if they can’t whether they can arrange for reliable hosting with another company.

Look for a rapport
This is very important. The relationship with your web designers is likely to be a long one so it’s vitally important that you get on well with each other.

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