Choose the Right Web Designer
Choosing a web designer can be a minefield, especially when there are so many unprincipled designers around. Some of our clients have been affected in one way or another by their previous experience with unprofessional web designers, and with this in mind, we have provided some information on what can go wrong and how to avoid it.
Are They Experienced Or Start-Ups?
Experience doesn’t mean a design company should have been working for years in the field, instead, many start-ups provide excellent work at competitive rates. The purpose of looking at experience of the company before hiring is to know whether they have worked over some relevant projects or not. If they have worked over similar projects efficiently, more are the chances they will deliver something excellent. Experienced companies will charge you more whereas start-ups will charge you less. Make a choice, but remember not to compromise over the quality aspects.
What Qualification And Skills Their Designers Have?
Designers of the design company should have designing-specific qualification and the relevant skills. Good companies don’t hide such information and always ready to share their strengths with their prospective clients.
What Does Their Work Display?
Looking at the portfolio of the design company will give you a clear picture whether they can provide you with the design that you want. It will also show their level of expertise as well as professionalism they follow in their designs. For an e-commerce website, you will have to see whether the company has experience of making such websites or not. Also, check if they have some particular designing style or they love experimentation.
How Much Do They Charge?
Check the design packages of the company and do ask in advance if they have any hidden charges or charges of extra features that you may demand during the process of web designing. You may get cheaper options of average quality web design. But, that’s not a profitable deal in the long run. You need a website yielding business and supporting higher ROI, so invest generously, but cautiously.
More valuable tip
We’ll assume that you have a fair idea of what to look for in a web designer, but we’d like to add one more vital ingredient to the mix. If you’ve browsed our site you’ll have noticed that we’re sticklers for valid coding, which can make or break a site. We strongly recommend that you:
Then go one step further… test some of their portfolio sites – after all, what you see in a shop window isn’t necessarily what you end up with!
Do They Meet Deadlines?
Along with asking whether the web design company is capable of meeting deadlines, provide them with realistic timeline, so that results could be as expected without frustrating both parties.
10 Questions to Ask a Prospective Web Designer
This the aim of this section is to suggest questions that you may not have thought of, but we think are prudent to ask. We think you already know the first one…
- Can you guarantee that all the pages on my site will conform to W3C specifications?
If you’ve read the ‘technobabble’ section above, you’ll know why this question is so important…
- Will it be tested in all the popular browsers and on different-sized screens to ensure that it displays well?
- Do you use tables to lay out your sites?
Unfortunately quite a few Web designers use invisible tables to hold the page layout together. For the client, this is something that is hard to detect, since it’s not evident when looking at the design itself. But it is something that needs to be checked — a site that uses tables won’t be accessible(a legal requirement in some countries), will perform less well in search engines and will take significantly longer to load. Tables should only be used where tabular data (such as a list of products) is being displayed.
- Can you register a domain name on my behalf, and provide web hosting — if so, what are the costs?
- Do you hand code your web sites?
This is important. It shows a level of expertise that you cannot get with designers that use software to develop the site.
- Talk me through the design process…
Know what to expect from the point of commission.
- What kind of after-development support is provided?
It’s all very well having a website designed at a good price but if the after-sales support is priced extortionately then you haven’t got a good deal. Find out how much changes will cost, and if possible try to negotiate one month’s free support after your website has been completed as there are always unexpected changes that are required.
- What about updates?
Depending on the likely frequency of updates, you may be offered a Content Management System so that you can manage your website yourself, but this can be costly – anything from £200 to £500 a year. An hourly rate for updates is a common solution proposed by design companies. Ask if you will be charged a minimum amount of time per update such as a full hour of service even if the task takes less time.
- Is web design your main business?
It’s surprising how many print designers offer web design services these days, as do many graphic designers and even computer programmers. It’s usually best to go with a company that specialises in web design rather than a ‘Jack of all trades’ that has recently branched out. The skills required for each discipline are really very different.
- Do you refuse to wear Crocs?
How can we put this? It’s doubtful that someone who would create a clean, elegant site would be caught dead wearing shoes that look like chew toys. Yes, they are practical and comfortable, and you won’t slip off a boat if you’re wearing them; but you need someone who’s a stylist as well as a geek — someone who is up on colour palettes, branding, typography, and page design that doesn’t obscure message or content. (Side note: If they subscribe to Grafik Magazine, that’s a good sign.)
Lastly, it’s important to establish a good rapport with your web designer. You’ll not only be working closely with them for the duration of your project, but will be collaborating with them for site maintenance for some years to come. If you’re instinct tells you that you’re not going to get along, then look further afield.