How should you choose a Website Designer? With so many options it can be overwhelming. The array of web designers available is huge! So are the different website platforms. Should you have a completely bespoke, coded website? A WordPress content management system? Or even a 'do it yourself' with a website builder like Squarespace or Wix?
Choosing a Website Designer can be difficult for a small business. A website is a big investment and it's not a decision to take lightly. When you choose a Website Designer, you're doing a lot more than finding someone who will show you a pretty design.
Here are some questions to consider and help you choose a website designer:
What do you need?
If you haven't already thought about this, you need to start! Although, if you choose a good website company they will help tease out the answers from you. Every successful website does more than look nice. It has a function, a purpose. Before you try to choose a website designer figure out exactly what you want from your website. Having a clear picture in mind of the goals for your website will allow you to find the most suitable designer. What is the list of things you need your website to do? You will need an easy to use navigation. You want to make it easy for customers to contact you. How do these needs stack up against some of your "wants". Such as an online booking system that could be more of a priority at a later date as you grow.
Have you considered if you only need your website designed? Or do you need help with domain names, branding, graphic design, photos and website hosting? Can you choose a website designer that offers all these items? Or will you want/have to work with a multitude of people to get your desired website?
What website platform will you build your website in?
Does the website designer use open source software such as WordPress or Joomla? We advise that you choose a website designer that uses open source software. This is because if your web designer falls under a bus in a year's time then you can find someone else who can take over.
Bear in mind also that web designers are not copywriters. If you need help pulling together some content for each page you may also want to approach a copywriter.
Will you be able to make changes on the website easily once it is live?
If you want to make changes easily yourself you need a content management system for your website? Without it, you'll be calling asking your designer regularly to request an update to your site. This will get expensive! Good web design agencies should be familiar with the best content management systems. It's important that your website has regular updates for it to rank well with Google. So it will be easier all round if you can make changes yourself. Choose a website designer that works with a content management system and offers training on updates.
Have they got a portfolio of work?
Every website designer should have a portfolio they can show you.
When you look at the portfolio, pay special attention to more than the picture they show you. Make sure you visit the site itself. Check the footer and see if that company is still doing the company's website work. Check out how the sites look on your phone and your desktop. Designers have their own style so you’ll want to choose a designer whose style you like. See if the websites they’ve made for others — and even businesses not in your industry — look appealing to you.
Can you find testimonials from website clients?
Will they be around for years after your site has launched?
This is the most common problem I hear from new clients. They went to someone that was cheap, someone they knew, and/or a family member of a friend. Either way, it's a year later and they can't get in touch with the designer and have no access to anything they paid for. Work with a website designer who wants a lasting, long-term relationship with your business.
Check to see if they outsource any of their work. Know if you are dealing with a website designer or a middle manager trying to make a quick profit.
Choose a website designer that offers ongoing support.
Website support means that you know you can contact your website designer and get prompt service. Whether it’s to fix a technical issue or make changes to your site. For this, they should offer a fair 'pay as you go' price. Or better still, do they have a cheaper monthly maintenance package? A good support package includes ongoing maintenance on your site. Websites have to be kept up to date. Especially if they use third-party plugins or software to function. You may not want or have the time and resources to make regular updates to your website. Having the designer take care of that side of things for you can save you a few headaches in future.
Do the website designers make the security of your site a priority?
Ask your website designer about plans for security. Do they use security software to prevent attacks, do they use a regular back up service. Do they scan for malware? There's no point in having a beautiful website if the site goes down or gets hacked.
What is your Budget?
You need to have a budget in mind. As tempting as it may be to go with the cheapest option to save money, it is not recommended. A website that doesn’t fit your needs or performs well, is going to cost you more in the long run. Get a quote, consider your needs vs your wants and prioritise. A good website designer can add features to your site at a later date as you grow and have a larger budget.
Don't forget to look at the payment terms. Do the scheduled payments fit your budget or if they offer a way of spreading the costs
What is their timescale and availability
You may find that some designers have immediate openings. Whereas others are booked out for Web Design months or even a year in advance. It is best to ask up front so that you can factor the time for completion into your launch.
Do they have a good understanding of SEO?
A website designer may not offer a full, ongoing SEO service. You will still want to hear good advice on SEO basics. Such as; relevant content, page structure, keyword research, local search SEO, social network integration and so on. A good web designer will optimise your images, and carry out basic optimisation for each page such as meta descriptions. They should also submit your site to search engines on launch
Do you like them?
A decent amount of time and effort goes into developing a website. This involves efficient communications with your website designer. So you need to like them! Establishing a simple working relationship and trust is key!
Creating a quality website involves many skills. Web Design requires an understanding of graphic design, the various types of Web Design software, and programming & coding. Furthermore, a good website designer will know the specs of different browsers and computer platforms, as well as how search engines spider through websites. With a little prep work, you can make the process a little easier and choose the right website designer for you!