How to Find the Right Website Designer

Tips for Building Your Website

Finding a web designer to create or update your website can be a challenge, especially for small businesses or entrepreneurs. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips that should make the process of finding the right partner for your web design project a little easier.

Function comes first. Think about what your site needs to do – what’s its purpose? Is it just a bulletin board with static information about your company, or a central hub of social activity? If you use your web site for ecommerce or interactive applications, your needs will be quite different that someone who just wants an online presence for additional visibility.

The functional requirements for your site will make a big difference in the scope of your web project. A design and development firm that can provide integration with shopping cart applications and other technically advanced capabilities will be more expensive, and require a longer and more involved development process than a simple marketing or promotional site.

What do you really want to do? Make a list of your priorities for the project, as opposed to your “wish list” of things you’d like to include on your web site. Understanding what’s really required will help you avoid being pulled into a more complex project than you need or can afford.

Think about things like social media integration, ecommerce, online pricing, videos or image galleries and where they might fit into your project. You might even want to assign certain tools a rating on a 1-5 scale. If you discover that you need to do your project in phases, this can help you decide which items to skip.

Once you have a good feel for what you want to accomplish with your site, you’re ready to start meeting with web designers. Get referrals from people whose websites you like, and meet with at least two or three firms or independent designers. Look at examples of their work and check their references. Ask if the person who will be working on your website is the same person who created the sites you like in their portfolio.

Have each firm provide a written, detailed proposal with specifics about what they will do, and when. Make sure the items that are most important to you are detailed on the proposal so there are no misunderstandings about deliverables. If you’re expecting things like social media integration (adding a Facebook “Like” button, for example) or search engine optimization, make sure that is included on the proposal.

Pricing can vary widely and the lowest priced provider is not necessarily the best or worst choice. Lots of times, the price will depend on the firm’s overhead, size and technical expertise. Often, a small business can get better, more efficient support from a smaller firm or independent designer. This is especially true if they have experience working with businesses similar to your own.

When making your final selection, consider things like responsiveness, communication skills and rapport with the team, quality of work and skills that fit your project needs. The overall success of you project depends more on these items than the price. You need to be comfortable that designer you choose can bring the technical skills and experience you require.

Your web designer must also be able to collaborate with you to create the end result that you are looking for, and not another cookie-cutter site or something just like the project they completed last week. Ideally, you’ll be working together long after the initial site design, so you want to enjoy the process.

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