What are the 9 things you must know about your web designer?
A new website is a big investment for your business. It’s also an essential marketing tool.
Two of the biggest determining factors in the success of your website are:
1. Has it been well thought out before commencing, to ensure it is targeted correctly to contribute to your business goals?
2. Have you got the right skills yourself to create a professional website, or have you selected a suitable web design professional to help you get what you need?
If you find that you don’t have the skills or time to create the sort of website you want to represent your business, you’ll be looking for outside help in the form of a web designer. But not all web designers are created equal.
You’re more likely to have a good outcome for your new website if you put the time into choosing the right web professional to help you. Here are 9 things you must know about your web designer before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Are they recommended?
If you belong to any business networking groups or forums, or have friends in business who have recently developed a website that you like the look of, ask them about their experience and whether they would recommend their web designer.
If you have already found some web designers whose work you like the look of, check their testimonials, case studies and portfolios. Visit the actual websites that they give as examples, rather than just looking at the images, and see if you find them user-friendly and customer-focussed.
If you’d like to speak with one of the designer’s previous clients about their experience, ask the designer for their contact details. A good question to ask when seeking a reference is whether an existing client would use the same designer for a similar future project.
2. Do they listen to you and ask intelligent questions about your business?
A good website designer will take a holistic view of how your website contributes to your business and marketing goals, not just how it looks. If they don’t ask for (and you don’t offer) information about the bigger business picture and listen carefully to your requirements, you are likely to get a less effective result. For example, they should want to know who your target market or ideal client is, in order to tailor the website to appeal to this audience.
Your website designer or digital firm should have a strong insight into marketing techniques including lead generation and calls to action, and be able to offer solid suggestions about setting up your online presence to contribute to your business goals.
3. How experienced are they?
How long has your prospective web designer been in business or worked in the field? Experience is often (although not always) reflected in the cost of a designer, so if you have a limited budget you may be looking at selecting a less experienced designer – perhaps a recent graduate – who wants to build their portfolio.
How many platforms does the designer have experience in building websites on, for example WordPress or Drupal? Do they specialise in one particular type of website (e.g. ecommerce sites) or do they work across a range of technical solutions?
Does your designer also have development/coding skills or are they foremost a graphic designer? If your website has specific technical requirements such as complicated databases, you may need a designer who either has development skills or works alongside a website developer.
Choosing a designer with a specialisation in developing the type of website you need can be an asset. However, there are talented designers working across a range of different platforms who can propose the best solution for your website.
Essentially, you want to know that the web designer you select has significant experience in developing websites for businesses like yours – or be prepared to make compromises for a cost saving.
4. What is their style like?
The look and feel of a website contributes to your business branding. Check out as much of your prospective designer’s portfolio as you can. Do you feel confident they can deliver a website you’ll be proud to promote?
Having a well-designed website is important if you operate in a brand conscious field such as lifestyle and fashion. It can also be essential for Business to Business organisations that are trying to look more professional and credible.
5. Are they geeky enough?
As gifted a designer as your website provider might be, they also need to understand better than anyone how the back end of your website works and be able to translate this to plain English for you.
Does your designer do their own web development or outsource this to a specialist? The technical requirements of your site will dictate the balance between design and development, but remember you need a website that functions as well as it looks.
Your designer should also understand and implement usability principles. Usability means that the experience of using your website is pleasant for visitors, and that they move towards your sales goals.
Last but certainly not least – do they know their SEO and adhere to current best practices, so that your nice looking website can actually be found by search engines?
6. Do they just do websites or can they offer other services?
Do you want to project manage all the elements of your website build yourself, or have it taken care of for you as a seamless project?
If the latter, look for a web design company that can offer some or all of the following services in addition to website design, so that you don’t have to coordinate these yourself:
- Hosting and maintenance
- Web copywriting
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Search Engine Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Video marketing
7. Where are they located?
Global outsourcing has become a growing feature of website development. This is an attractive option for many, particularly businesses developing their first website who want to cut costs. Australian businesses simply can’t compete with the lower labour costs of many other nations, particularly India, The Phillipines and even Eastern Europe so websites made by overseas firms can be cheaper. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, the end result can be disappointing.
Business owners who choose to outsource their web design overseas should be highly technically literate, so that they can specify their website design needs very clearly. Don’t skimp on time to do due diligence including getting referrals and seeing examples of previous work, to avoid disappointment.
Choosing a local web designer with a full-time business (and a phone number that you can speak to them on) can make your designer more accountable. It also means that your web design company may be able to provide you with better term services such as website maintenance and content creation to grow your online presence. Again, references and examples are essential to make sure they can deliver what they promise.
8. Are they professional and pleasant to work with?
Because a website is a significant investment of time and money for your business, it’s important to choose a website designer that you work well with. In addition to having all the technical and creative skills you expect of a professional website designer, the following are also important:
- Provision of clear costings and timelines for the work, so both parties understand the commitment.
- Good and ongoing communication, including responding to your enquiries in a timely manner.
- The ability and willingness to educate clients on how to use their website in an ongoing way, including Content Management System instructions or training.
Importantly, your website will need ongoing investment of effort and/or money to work at its best for your business. It can be an enormous stress and time saver to be able to return to a trusted advisor for this.
Unless you are highly technically proficient, you may need a degree of outside assistance in promoting your online presence. If you can build a good, ongoing relationship with your web designer, they will be an asset to your business as you grow.
9. Do they care?
As with everything in life, the best people in any area are passionate about what they do.
Good web designers live and breathe online design. They may even challenge your preconceived notions to get the best results for your business. This is the sort of person you want on your team, using their expertise and passion to your advantage.
The final word
The truth is that in a web design project, both the client and the web designer are responsible for achieving a good outcome.
As a business owner, you will get the best results from your web design project by:
- Educating yourself about what your business needs, focussing on outcomes.
- Doing due diligence and seeking examples and references when assessing website designers.
- Creating a strong brief that acts as a checklist against the job, and ensuring your designer can deliver the specifications you require.
- Thinking of your website as an ongoing asset rather than a one-off project, where your web designer can act as an online business advisor.
- If you don’t have the time or skills to do online marketing yourself, seek providers who can supply a range of services such as web copywriting, social media management and online marketing.
Getting a great online presence should be a big boost forward for your business, not a painful experience that you never want to relive.
Invest the effort in choosing and briefing a website designer who can help contribute to your business goals.
Need professional web design and content writing for your new business website?
Contact us to book in your free consultation on 0404 086 140 or drop us a line
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