A quick guide to lead you through the sometimes difficult process of choosing a webdesigner.
1. Plan – before you get going make sure that you have talked to all the important people in your business. If you are a small operation its good to consult the wife/husband because they usually have some great ideas. Pencil your ideas onto a bit of paper. Think about what the website is going to do for your, why do you want a website: usually its because there is another business in your industry who already got one, and now you are jealous (at least of how successful it is working out for them).
2. Experience – the next step is to ask around for a good web designer. Personal referrals will always give you better options than a wide scale search of newspapers and the internet. When you make contact with the designer don’t look for a huge corporation but rather look to see what their portfolio looks like and check previous clients for references. There is a caveat, web designers who have got stuck in web 1.0 (read 1990′s) technology can be unaware of the latest developments such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Services. It is important to check that some of the previous websites in their portfolio have facebook, or twitter available on the sidebar content.
3. Customer Service – Make sure you speak with the designer on the phone, they should make you feel comfortable and be ready to lead you through the process of webdesign. Although it is not usually necessary to meet with your webdesigner, it is important to stay in constant contact throughout the design process. Also make sure that the Web designer is prepared to fix all problems which may occur after the completion of the project. A good rule is fix it if its broken pay for it if its new development; no different to any warranty on any other product.
4. Cost – cost is a difficult one, often a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. You could pay €10,000 for the complete website experience, but if you are a small concern its more reasonable to pay under €1000 for a contract. Set a maximum budget for your marketing make sure to factor in your funding, grant, and investment proposals. Then specify the minimum requirements for your website: facebook integration, a newsletter system, content management system etc. Then get some quotes that meet the minimum requirements. Sometimes this can be a bit catch 22 because you don’t know what you want until you see it. But a website design service which has a clear pricing structure will help you to figure out your costs more easily, so look for companies which provide up front prices.
5. Act – this seems simple, but the quicker you get something, anything at all up onto the internet, the better it is for your business. Many people wait far too long for the perfect moment to launch their website. You can always have an official launch later. You can always revise the website, hell you should revise your website. The beauty of the internet is that there is not any physical cost in changing your website (and thats why you should make sure that you have a content management system).
A few notes for when you are assessing a website designer. Now days most of the web is built on standardised platforms which have proven themselves to be the best at what they do. It is dangerous to trust a web designer who claims to have built a system completely from scratch when there already perfectly good systems which have been completely tested. Here is a list of the best platforms for each aspect of your internet marketing:
- Content Management of websites – wordpress/joomla
- Hosting – Dedicated or bluehost/hostgator
- Newsletter Systems – Aweber