You have less than eight seconds to create a positive impression on a visitor to your website when they first land on your website. Be very selective when it comes time to choose the website design firm for your website project. Here are some suggestions / tips to consider when selecting a website design firm:
1. Do they have a portfolio? Make sure your chosen website designer has some experience under their belts. Website development has come a long, long way in the last ten years. It is not possible for one person to know everything that is necessary to design, program and promote a successful website. Think hard about hiring that independent programmer that works out of his house. The price might be enticing but, what will you end up with?
2. Can the website designer you are considering cater to any type of business? Look through their website portfolio for variety across industries. Also, do their client websites all look similar in format and structure? A custom designed website establishes a much more professional image for your own company. Templates can be a substitute but, are resold many times over. Your website may look like many others. Also, website templates require your content to be presented a certain way – a presentation that may not be appropriate for your business.
3. How is that potential website designers response time? This is vital to the success of your website. Take note of their choice of response on their website. Is it by e-mail, phone, fax, instant messenger? How quickly did they respond to your inquiries. If you prefer to do business over the phone your website developer should accommodate your preference.
4. Does the selected design firm have a contract? It is important that everything is understood up front when beginning a website project. When it is written it can be referred to. Also, before signing, make sure you read the entire contract, including all the fine print. Don't hesitate to ask any questions. This will be best for you AND the designer. Answering questions and ensuring their is understanding between the web design company and your company will help prevent bad feelings, a poor job and/or missed deadlines.
5. How reasonable is this web developers prices? You do get what you pay for. There are many "web designers" that work out of their home. They have created a couple of websites, are hungry and will price low to get more experience. Do you want them to gain experience on your dime? Most web designers work on an hourly basis – this is ok if they have a comprehensive budget they plan from. There is a good chance you will want extras once the website development process starts. You should check to see your chosen website developer has planned on contingencies in their website proposal budget. Your website is going to the link between you and your customers, so make sure it is the best it can be given your budget constraints. Nowadays, you can find websites for $500 or, website builder applications for some monthly flat rate. Be careful! Consider if you will get what you need in these "value" packages. How will your customers view you. You can always consider building your website in phases. This will help keep the cost down and the quality up.
6. Can your chosen website designer help you market your website? You may have a gorgeous, functional website but, if no one knows it is there – it is useless. Online promotion of websites has become a whole new industry – search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media, linkbacks – all very important and experience in these areas is essential to making your website a success. Ask your web design firm what they feel is best for your company. You should feel comfortable in their explanation and reasoning, otherwise move on.
7. Does the website designer have happy clients? Can you find client testimonials on the site? Ask for referrals and then CONTACT them. Ask probing questions like what was your over all satisfaction? Did the website designer go over budget? Is your website performing for you now? It's better to spend 15 minutes on the phone than months of hassle and pain with the wrong web developer.
8. Can your chosen website design firm meet all your needs? Do you want an e-commerce store, can they program Flash elements or, a custom web application? Can they perform search engine optimization and / or search engine marketing? Discuss their goals and confirm they can do what is best for your company and meet the expectations of your website goals? Choose a firm that has the full corporate solution for your needs - that usually means more than a guy in his bedroom or garage.
9. Can they deliver on time? Discuss your goals as they relate to timelines. Be comfortable with their explanations of delivery.If you need your website done by a certain date, tell the designer / developer. Can the web designer you choose confidently state they can complete by that date?
10. Does the web designer you are considering take a personal and friendly approach? Is the website designer willing to help and suggest their own ideas, or do they robotically go along hoping they got everything you want? It's always best to find a website designer that has some ideas of their own, with fresh ideas.
Although this blog entry can seem like a no-brainer to some, many companies will often run into difficulties and conflicts within their website development project. These are simple steps that often are overlooked. Keep this list in mind when looking for a website designer and you should find the right one to create a successful website!
Have you had a bad experience with a website developer? Do you have something to add to the list above? Please let us know in the comment section below.