What to look for in a website designer.
As a small business owner, a website can seem like a big investment, whether it be in time or in money it is still a critical decision for your company. A well developed and healthy website can bring your brand to life whilst one that is slow and unwieldy can push your customers away.
Let’s start you off with a few helpful tips & hints to selecting and ultimately employing a website designer.
Before we get started there are a few things you will need to know. In certain circumstances, developing a website will need the expertise of a variety of different people:
- Graphic Designer/Artist: This person will help to create some of the graphic elements to your site, such as your logo, illustrations, photos etc. A lot of graphic designers can create a visual representation of what your site could look like before the building commences.
- Website Programmer: This person takes the design from the graphic designer and creates the code or builds the site to make the original design come to life. They will also be responsible for the technical elements behind the scenes that make your site run smoothly.
- Marketing consultant: They can help you to understand the role that your website will play in your marketing plan. They can do this by not only using it as a static site but as a living, breathing advertising machine.
- Copywriter: This person can help you to develop the text content for your website. Ensuring correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If you decide to have a go at the text for the website by yourself make sure to get someone you trust to read over it as well. It is not the job of your website designer/programmer to correct this for you. Often if your content involves technical elements they may not understand when something is not right. Some website designers can create content for a site but at an additional cost.
- Website Designer: This person can help you build the page layouts, graphics, text locations as well as the site navigation and how pages will link together. Thereby creating the fundamentals elements required for the site itself. In most situations, the website designer will also be a project manager, bringing the various pieces together, either by themselves or combining the expertise of their team to give you a complete solution.
So how do you find a good website designer?
Choosing the right Website designer for your business will depend on certain criteria being identified at the beginning of your journey.
Potentially you may prefer someone local to you that can sit down with you to discuss the site, or if you are happy to work with your designer remotely, make sure they are happy to work with you on those terms.
Remember if you are approaching multiple designers, always give them the same brief, otherwise, you will end up with inaccurate and confusing quotes for comparison.
Here are a few things to think about when approaching a designer:
- Pay attention to how much they ask about your business. Most designers will want to get to know your business, your target audience and how you intend to market your website. This can have a big impact on the design of the site. Remember, your designer is building the site for your customers to use, most of them will have experience in various industries and be able to adapt appropriately. Some of your ideas may not be right for your customers. A good designer should be able to explain why things are done in a certain way to make the most of your site.
- Take a look at sites they have designed in the past. Most designers will have a portfolio section (or similar) on their website. This will give you an idea of their overall “style” of works. Good designers are flexible and have a range of different site styles.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if they do all the work themselves or if they have a team working with them.
- If they don’t do everything themselves and you need other pieces, ask them for recommendations. Good designers will have a list of service providers that can help.
- Do they have a plan that you can follow? Most designers will have an outline plan of what they need from you at various stages of the build to keep the project on track.
- Can they meet your deadline? If you have a deadline that needs to be met, it is important to bring this up right at the beginning of discussions. Designers often book work in 4-6 weeks ahead, meaning if you have a 1-week deadline it can be difficult to accommodate. In situations like this, some designers will still do their best to help but you need to ensure you have all of your content ready to go, your agreed deadline relies on you meeting your agreed deadlines for content etc as well.
- Ask them about Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation. Make sure they know what you intend to do with your site. Building a pretty site is great, but, unless you do something with it you cannot expect customers to find you. A good designer will build the site to meet your wider goals.
- Ask them about what platform they will build your site on. There are a lot of different platforms out there which require a variety of skills. Your designer will most likely choose a platform which is familiar to them. Avoid paying for sites designed on template platforms such as Wix and Squarespace. These platforms require little to no skill to use and are targeted at self-builders. You may often be paying a premium for such a site that will not be suitable for your wider goals. Also, be aware that a site built on such platforms cannot be migrated. If for any reason your relationship with your designer breaks down you are stuck with them if you want to keep your site without a major rebuild.
- Ask them about ongoing maintenance. Most websites require regular maintenance, which, unless carried out will mean your site will not perform at its best or is open to attack from hackers. If you intend to maintain your own website after it has been designed make sure they can teach you how to do it. Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure a safe environment for your customers. Remember, most designers will charge you to repair a website if you make a mess of it or if it becomes infected through lack of maintenance. A maintenance plan with your designer can help to ensure this doesn’t happen, at a fraction of the cost of a potential repair.
- Ask them for their price structures. This one might seem a bit obvious, but it is important to get a clear idea of what you are paying for. Be wary of designers who try to increase your budget once the project has started by suggesting new add-ons etc. Also, be careful when changing your mind mid-project. If the designer has agreed on a particular brief for a set price, making alterations during the design can increase costs. You are as responsible for sticking within your budget as much as your designer is.
- Ask about how you will be charged. Also, make sure you know exactly what and when that will happen within the project. Most designers require a deposit upfront. This is to secure their time for your project and is often non-refundable. They will probably have different terms on payment throughout the rest of the project. Remember, do not expect your site to be put live until the final payment has been cleared by your designer. If your designer offers you a monthly payment plan, make sure you are prompt with your payments each month, they can and often do take your site down if you fail to pay.
- Ownership??? Make sure you know who owns your website after the project is completed. A good designer will ensure that you retain the copyright to your site content, except for stock images etc. Find out more about website ownership Here.
- You will need to build a good working relationship with your designer. Make sure they are compatible with your ethics and clearly understand what you are trying to accomplish.
Your website can be your most important marketing tool in this digital age. Avoid thinking about it as just a necessity. Your website should be a living organism, constantly evolving and enticing your customers to want more from you. Make sure you choose a designer who listens to you and can create a site that reflects your business needs whilst keeping within your budget and agreed timescales.
We hope these few helpful hints guide you in choosing the right website designer for your needs. If you are at all confused about where to go or what is your next steps then please, do not hesitate to get in touch Here.