Sue Studios Holistic web design that works

How to Find The "Right" Web Designer

Professional-looking websites are not created at the mere press of a button after talking to you for ten minutes. There are plenty of people who can turn out professional websites. There are even fewer who will put in the time to create a commercial marketing vehicle - for less than the cost of a Super Pages ad.

This involves many hours of planning, consulting, what to include and what to exclude, designing a clear and unconfusing website, appealing text, good copy and pictures and all the other major and minor details.

The experienced web designer can implement your ideas and enhance them, spotting possible pitfalls and making recommendations along the way. She/he will help you to understand the procedure and give you the benefit of her/his experience and understanding of the Web, so that you come away not only with a website but with an enhanced understanding of the Web and online business. In short, she/he will work with you and be effective.

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Thinks Like a Business Person

As a broad rule, Web designers think technical or think business. You want the latter, not the former. Unfortunately they aren't always easy to find. Many designers come from a technical background, and might place greater importance on pretty designs, high-tech features or cutting-edge technology than in designing a Web site that meets your needs.

Listens to Your Needs

Designing a website is an intense endeavor, and the designer will need to work with you, to get a feel for your business and industry, and to ascertain your preferences and goals. You want a designer who asks questions, listens to your needs, and then uses the appropriate technology to design a Web site that meets those needs.

Speaks in as Non-Technical Terms as Possible

Can the designer explain Internet and computer terminology to you in plain English or does she/he leave you feeling blank and spinning? Or worse, does she/he not explain anything at all? The truth of the matter is that Web terminology is simply horrendous and at some point, you may need to understand a little more of it than you do now. Does the designer take the time to explain it so that you can easily understand it?

Look at Their Work

Look at the designer's clients' websites. Do they look professional? Are they logical, easy to use, and provide what's needed to help customers achieve their (and the clients') goals? Images need to be pertinent and professional and ad copy should appeal to your customers. The pages also have to download fast, and work in a variety of browsers (at a minimum, various editions of Internet Explorer and Netscape for PC and Mac). That means that a lot of business development has gone into them.

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Easy to Work With

You'll have to feel comfortable with your designer, and to know that she/he will give you the benefit of his knowledge of the Web and marketing. Does she/he get super-touchy when you ask for changes, or does she/he listen, learn and give the benefit of her/his expertise? All this you can only find out by talking to her/him by a phone call or through meetings.

Offers Other Services You May Need Along With Web Design

Getting online requires more than just the design of a site. There are many other services you may need to get your site online such as:

Domain Name Registration

You need to register your website domain name. The domain name is like your "address" on the Internet.

Web Hosting

Once you have your address, you need to pay for space where your website will actually sit on the Internet. A good design company should be able to recommend a good hosting company to you or offers hosting itself.

Web Development

Web designers traditionally look after the front-end of your site (what your customers see: the "pages" that display the graphics, the images, and the text on your site). Web development refers to the "back-end" of the site (such as databases that are used in more complex sites). A good Web designer will also have experience in collaborating with a Web developer.

Maintenance

Ask the designer about ongoing design and content maintenance. What will they charge to make regular updates such as pricing changes, addition of new products, removal of old ones, and changes in links to other sites? How often can they make these changes? How much will it cost to add new pages or scan in additional graphics?

Look for a design company that helps you in other services you need.

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Understands Search Engine Optimization

A good designer will know how to build a site that will place well in search engine rankings. Actually, this is difficult for most people to tell - but you can ask the web designer. He'll either know and be able to show you some examples, or he won't.

For top rankings in search engines, some search engines charge. Your designer should be able to explain this difference to you.

Level of Bureaucracy in the Web Design Company

A web design company that requires each and every nuance of the design be approved by five people and two committees. That will eat up a ton of time and the job will drag on, taking longer than the same site design would for a small firm.

Good Follow-Up

Find out what your designer plans are after your website is completed. Many clients appreciate an ongoing relationship, the ability to follow up, get website maintenance, plan future expansion strategies, or just kick ideas around. Some design houses just design; ot`hers are available to help with marketing strategies.

Can you meet our deadline?

The best design team in the world is of no use if it can't meet a deadline. It's not unreasonable to expect a design team to have a working site ready to go within a month. Set up mini-deadlines along the way, to make sure everyone understands how the site should progress.

What to Avoid

Here are some tips on what to avoid in a designer:

  • Anyone who doesn't know HTML

  • Someone who uses Frontpage. There are security holes in the Microsoft Frontpage extensions, sites made with Frontpage are difficult to maintain without the continued use of Frontpage, it doesn't generate standards-compliant HTML, and there is a good possibility that someone who uses it does not actually know HTML. This is a possibility with anyone who uses any WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) software, designers/ developers who handcode are highly recommended.

  • Any person or company that does not have a business web site with their own domain. Their site should not be hosted on GeoCities, Angelfire, etc.

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