From personal blogs to online stores, when it comes to choosing a web designer, knowing how to select the person or company that is right for you can be very difficult. To ensure you get a final product that meets or exceeds your expectations, you should use a process to narrow down your search of web designers.
As the customer you need to be ready, or close to ready, to start the project. You need to have worked out some of the details and have an opinion about how the site is structured, how it functions and your desired goals for the site.
Understand what it is you hope to accomplish with your website. If you are starting from scratch then there is more prep needed. Most websites that work well for users have a logical hierarchy for site content. So for example a site like cnn.com has sections for articles such as sports, world, finance and travel amongst others.
To help you understand what organizational needs your site may need you can search online for similar businesses. This will allow you to see the choices of competitors and peers and will start you down the road of likes and dislikes both in structure and design.
When determining who becomes your web designer keep in mind how prepared you are. If you need help with structure and forming of your site then make sure to talk to possible designer candidates and make sure they are comfortable taking you through that process.
One key to finding the right designer for you is to ask about their previous work. You want to get information on two parts of their history, years and recent examples. It’s important that you work with someone that has experience in covering a wide range of site designs over a decent period of time. A person that has been creating websites for over 5 years with several sites designed and provided as examples should be your minimum requirement. If a designer has more years of experience, do not expect to see more examples of their work as often sites can be redesigned every five years to no fault of the designer but rather changing company needs.
If a designer has a lot of work in their portfolio but very few are recent then you need to ask why and understand that it may be because the designer is not following current design trends. Part of being current is about visual and how pleasing the site is to a large and diverse audience. The other part of current design is about best practices with clean coding and can be the difference in having a slow site or a fast loading site that search engines find easily.
One way to get referrals is if you already have web design candidates. Ask them to provide you with referrals that may be similar to your site so you can ask them about their experience with that designer. Ask the referral about project deadlines, communication, originality, focus and other elements important to you. Keep in mind that this is not unlike hiring an employee and you need to feel comfortable with all aspects of how the designer works.
Getting information from referrals will help you make your final decision but should never be a sole factor. Referrals can be anyone from life long friends of the designer to customers that were very hands off. What you hoping to gain from contacting referrals is an understanding of what to expect and how those factors match your needs.
Become A Detective
In any given day you probably come across three or more websites and something new at least once a week. When you see a site that catches your eye, take the time to find out who created it. For larger companies this may not be possible because mostly it is a staff that has created and maintains the site. However, an even larger number of companies use outside resources for their site creation and maintenance. At the bottom of most pages you should be able to find some sort of contact info and if you are lucky some webmaster info.
If you cannot find web designer information then call the company. Some companies may be unwilling to give that information for fear their site will be copied so it is best to contact companies with businesses unlike yours.
Like anything in life you want to get the best value for your dollar. In creating a website this should be no different but you need to be smart about what value means. If you look for only the cheapest designer you are most likely going to get bad results. If you pay top dollar you may find yourself wondering what you paid for down the road.
To find the right cost for the creation of your site, write down the scope of the project. How many pages, what features you would like, comparable sites, project deadlines and what industry you are in. After getting this information gathered make a post on craigslist and leave out how much you are willing to pay and ask for what they would charge. By leaving out the cost and giving a good description of the project you should start to get some bids. Most likely you will have a high and low bid to immediately throw out. You’ll also have some from oversees which I recommend throwing out as communication is difficult with time zone issues and language. The remaining bids should be within a reasonable range of costs and taking that average should be your budget.
Once you establish what seems like your budget you will be able to have better and more detailed conversations with designers. Do not be unwilling to adjust your budget a bit because it is possible that having a phone call reveals more details of the project and thus raises the budget a bit. Also, be willing to raise your budget in favor of a designer you feel more comfortable working with.
Between experience, cost, communication and style, take every factor in choosing a designer and decide which points are most important to you. Talk to friends and colleagues about your new project. They can offer feedback and advice in addition to possible referrals. Be honest about what you want and hope to gain with your new website and be open to advice.
Finding a web designer can be a daunting task but when you use a process you can feel more confident that the designer you choose is right for your needs.