Category Archives: Web Design

Choosing the Right Web Designer

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design company for your site is extremely important. Unless you run a web-based business, you probably do not have web design experience within your company. Building your web site will take time and a little homework!

To create a web site for your business, follow these 4 simple steps:

  1. Establish your goals
  2. Determine your budget
  3. Pick a web design company
  4. Pick a web hosting company

Establish Your Goals

Before you begin looking for company to help you design and build your web site, take the time to understand the goals of your web site. This will be extremely important to help set expectations with the web design company you choose.

In order to set your web site goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you want a web site?
  • Are you selling something?
  • Do you have a catalog of products that changes on a regular basis?
  • Who is your target market?
  • Do you already have a brand?
  • What is your industry?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Do they already have web sites? If so, what do they look like?
  • If you’re selling something, will you accept credit cards over the internet?
  • How soon do you want your web site?
  • What happens if you never create a web site for your business?

Take the time to answer each of the above questions and if you have time, write the answers down on a sheet of paper. These are the same questions most web design companies will ask you before they begin to create your site. If you have these questions answered up front, you will have some criteria for choosing the right web design company. For example, if you are a real estate agent, and want to publish listings on your web site, you should seek a web design company that knows about the real estate business and has created web pages for other real estate agents.

Determine Your Budget

How much do you want to spend on your web site. Web sites can cost you anywhere from $100 to $100,000 depending upon what you want it to do. Know your spending constraints before you begin negotiating with design companies. Whatever you do, do not tell a web design company what your budget is!! Always get pricing based on your needs, not you budget.

Pick a Web Design Company

Your choice of a web design company is a very important step. Take your time to investigate all of your options. Here are some important items to consider.

Design vs. Build

Depending upon the scope of your web site, you may need to choose two different companies. Building a web site is a highly technical process. Designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. The process of creating a web site is similar to the process of building a new home. Before you ask a construction company to start building, you first seek out an architect who creates a blueprint of your house taking into account what you want (number of stories, square footage, etc.). Creating a detailed blueprint before construction begins can help you accurately estimate the final price. Without the blueprint, you may end up paying a lot of money for a house that does not fit your needs. Creating a web site is exactly the same except most web site “builders” also claim to be “designers”. The good news is that you can look at other sites a web design company has created (like looking at other homes that a home builder has made). Make sure you ask the web design company what their process is for designing a web site vs. building a web site. They should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don’t, they’re probably builder that think they can also architect.

Evaluate Experience

Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? As with any services company, choosing someone that has relevant experience. If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience doing just that?

Review the Portfolio

A well established web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you? In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn’t they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

Compare Prices

Pricing for creating a web site can vary. Typically, web design companies will charge one of three ways:

  • Time and materials: price is variable based on the actual number of hours spent working on your site. For example, a web design company may charge you $75 per hour. If it takes 100 hours to create your web site, your price would end up being $7,500.
  • Fixed Price: some design companies will charge you a fixed fee based on a fixed set of requirements. If you outline your requirements very carefully, many web design companies will quote you a single price.
  • Component Pricing: some design companies will charge “by the page”. By creating a price based on the number of pages, you can control the cost by designing a specific number of pages. Buyer beware: some design companies will charge by the page but will have “special pricing” for components such as custom graphics, animated images, and the like.

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front. Also make sure that you understand what “done” means. Try and structure the payments such that a significant portion of the fees (20%) are not due until you “accept” the final web site. Include the agreed-upon dates in your contract and provisions for what will happen if these dates are not met.

Solicit bids from multiple web design companies and compare both the pricing models and the prices themselves.

There are thousands of web designers across the country and they should all fight feverously for your business! Be picky! If a web design company dismisses any of your questions regarding their design process, pricing, or client references, take your business elsewhere!

How to Hire The Right Web Design

Regardless whether you manage a small business, charitable organization, or Fortune 500 company, choosing the right web design firm can quickly become a full-time research project. With thousands of design firms to choose from, what factors truly determine which design firm is best for your business?

The primary considerations for choosing a web design firm are:

* Price

* Customer service/access to support

* Credibility indicators of the design firm

* Portfolio and design experience

* Other services offered (domain renewal, hosting, SEO)

* Turnaround time

Let’s take a closer look at each consideration in detail, and explore how to identify and qualify the right design firm.

Price

Like many products and services we purchase, both personally and professionally, deciding on a web design firm can often come down to price. But the value of the services rendered is really what’s important. A $200 web site usually turns out to look, feel and perform like a $200 web site.

The price of your site’s development will depend on three factors: the features of the site, the amount of content, and the service options included with the design package, such as hosting.

Because pricing varies by firm, here are several principles to use when determining the validity and value of a web design quote:

* Does the quote state one all-inclusive price for the entire project?

* Is there a reoccurring monthly fee for hosting?

* Is the site custom-built, or is it customization of an existing template?

* Is there a separate fee for content development, such as writing sales copy?

* Is domain registration/management included in the package?

* Will the firm provide multiple design concepts, prior to actual development?

It’s important to compare quotes from at least three firms to, determine the value of the services offered. Looking for the best value is important in a competitive service market.

Customer Service

There’s nothing worse than signing with a firm that offers a great product, only to find out they are impossible to contact. Consistent, open contact with your web design firm is important for ensuring success before, during, and after your web site is developed.

Throughout the design process, you may identify text, photos, or contact information you’d like to change before the site goes live. If you have immediate questions regarding your site’s development, you’ll be glad to have immediate contact with customer support staff by e-mail, telephone, or live chat.

If you are limited to e-mail technical support, consider other firms that offer a wider range of customer service options such as telephone and live chat support. E-mail is great for convenience – when it’s convenient.

Credibility Indicators

Identifying “credibility indicators” can help ensure a firm is trustworthy, and will be around after your deposit or full payment is sent. Credibility indicators include, but are not limited to:

* Toll free telephone support

* 24 hour customer service

* Better Business Bureau affiliation

* Human e-mail address contacts

* Google PageRank of 2 or above

* Presentation of a hard-copy quote/design contract

Design Experience/Portfolio

Does the design firm have experience in working with similar types of businesses? Even if a designer doesn’t have a web site in their portfolio related to your industry, the firm you select should have a strong working knowledge of how to develop an effective site for your business type. Product and service web sites are not the same. Your designer should have a plan of action for developing a site that reaches the maximum number of prospective customers in your target market.

A few good questions to ask about a firm’s design experience include:

* Does the firm offer a number of diverse, finished web sites available for review?

* Will the firm conduct research regarding my competition?

* Will my web site highlight the features, benefits and value of my product or service?

* Has the firm outlined a plan of action for creating an effective site, start to finish?

Design experience need not always relate to the type of web sites the firm has previously developed. If you have a specific look in mind, ask the firm if achieving a similar design is possible. The ultimate goal is to know you’re going to get a tangible benefit out of your site through effective, affordable web design.

Additional Services

Many web design firms offer design, but do not provide other required services such as hosting and domain name registration. Ideally, your web design company should be a full-service firm, offering at least basic hosting, domain registration and search engine optimization services tailored to your needs. Research each firm to determine other key lines of business, so that any future expansion of your site will be seamless as your business grows.

Turnaround Time

An effective website should take 30-60 days to go live, from the start of production. Unless you’re offering hundreds of individual products or services on your web site, the entire development process, start to finish, should take no longer than 60 days. Turnaround time should include:

* Upload of your web site to the hosting provider

* Configuration of any scripts or forms on your site

* Domain propagation (accessing your web site and e-mail via yoursite.com)

Hiring the cheapest, fastest, or most elaborate web design firm does not always equate to hiring the right web design firm. A limited amount of front-end research can save time and money in the long term, and maximize the sales revenue from your web presence.

Offshore Web Design and Development

Sooner or later every small or medium business owner realizes that he needs a web site for his business. And almost everybody wants to have great web site for affordable price because usually web site design budget is quite limited.

There are few ways to find the best solution.

  • Somebody prefers to design the site by himself – but it takes much time and labor, distracts from the general business, and let be frank – you have seen many of such “DIY” – web sites -they lack professional touch and look unfinished or overworked.
  • Somebody decides to hire a professional web design company but in case of limited budget he has to say “good-buy” to many features he wants to see on the web site, because web design companies are also businesses and they can’t work for “thank you very much” only.

So what to do when you want to have great web site but your web design budget is limited?

Think about IT-outsourcing and offshore web design and development!

There are many web design companies in other countries, mostly of Eastern Europe and East-Southern Asia that operate with small budgets and offer great web design works

How it is possible? There are different economical factors which condition on low internal expenses of the companies in these countries so they can do the same volume of work but for lower price than it costs in USA, Canada, UK, Western Europe or Australia. So offshore web site design and development helps to keep prices at least 3-5 times less.

You can say “Yes, this is cool that I can save my money but how they will do the work if I am here in USA but they are in Ukraine, for example?” Easily! In our age of Internet this is not a problem at all! Practice proves that for web site design project it’s enough to have communication through email, instant messenger (ICQ, AOL, MSN) or IP-phone.

You can say “How can I trust somebody whom I have never seen before and most likely will not ever see?” Actually this question must the web design companies ask, not you, because there are many of IT-outsourcing companies and competition is quite strong in this area, so to get a customer many companies allow the first payment after 30-50% of the project completion, i.e. you pay after you have seen good results and satisfied with the work.

And as in onshore web design you need to pay much attention while choosing web design company: look at their previous works in portfolio, and ask about previous customers’ references. Ideally all this information must be accessible on the company’s web site.

As for the rest there is not much difference between offshore and onshore web site design process. You see the results of work in the progress, make your comments, see changes, agree them. When the project is complete and the site is ready to be uploaded to your server, you make final payment. It’s also not a problem – you can make payment by credit card, PayPal, wire transfer, Western Union, etc.

So let’s resume what you must know when dealing with offshore web site design:

  • If you are on “tight budget” and can’t afford spending thousands of $$$ for your web site design you should think about trying offshore web site design opportunities.
  • There are many countries, which take part in offshore web site design; the most well known are India, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Philippines.
  • To make right choice of offshore web design company for your web site design take into consideration the company reputation, portfolio of previous works, previous customers’ references, quick and competent feedback to your initial request.
  • To avoid problems you must be attentive and ask exact questions about payment policy and method, timescale and milestones of the project, conditions of the ready site delivery, warranties, post-development support and maintenance.

At your first experience with offshore web design you can see it to be too risky and complicated, but this feeling will be replaced with real satisfaction when you will see your new great web site live in the Internet and you realize how much you have saved on its design.

Learn the Truth about Your Web Design

When you start building your online business and search for a web design company that will implement all your needs for the web site you must understand that it is a very serious step because you are entrusting your business along with its reputation and future.

That’s why it’s very important to make the right choice.
There are several factors that must define your choice, and one of them is portfolio of previous web design works the company has done. It can tell you more than all words and promises, just be attentive and try to analyze. I will tell you what you must pay attention to:

1) Presence of portfolio

Yes, it seems to be obvious that web design company must have own web site with portfolio of previous works. But don’t be astonished too much when you see one without it. There can be various reasons for this but I wouldn’t recommend you to tempt fate. Portfolio is like a “face” and it’s pride of web design company, it must be full, substantial, and routinely updated…and IT MUST BE!

2) Total number of works

This can tell you much however there is no standard number that will guarantee you are going to deal with web design guru. Yes, 50 successfully finished projects is better than 5, but their quality is also important. Compare the number with period of time during which the company operates in the market and calculate average number of projects per year, month, or week. Remember that average web site design takes 2-4 weeks to be finished.

What this information can give you? Firstly, you can see that the company has got enough expertise. Then this shows that it has stable flow of works, adjusted schedule of development process, and enough staff to perform it, so if you commit your web site design to the company you can be sure that the work won’t be for them like a bolt from the blue or well-paid but not feasible overloading.

3) Type of works

Look attentively at each work in the portfolio. How many projects are similar to the one you need by type of site, technology used, industry, and look and feel?
At least 2-3? Good!
More than 5? Excellent!!
None? There can be a reason for this – owner didn’t want to make it published, or web site is no more live – so if all other works show professionalism and expertise, you should ask the
company if they have ever done the task you need.

If you need any particular technology to be used for your web site implementation it’s more than necessary to see examples how the web design company worked with it. However sometimes it happens if the technology is not common used and very popular that the web design company hasn’t had chance to work with it for commercial purpose but it might be used for internal projects development, so you will loose nothing if ask the company to show you some examples if they exist.

If you need a web site for exact business, for example dating site or real estate site, it’s also better to view such previous works in the portfolio because there are can be specific features and it’s better to make sure that the web design company is experienced with them. Also some web design companies make demo packages that also can show you the abilities and experience.

4) Quality of works

Learn carefully each live site (or the ones which are similar to the site you need). How long does it take to load the site home page?
A few seconds? Great, the web designer knows how to optimize images.
A few minutes? It’s normal if this is a Flash site because usually the whole site is loaded at one time, not only the home page; or it’s a Flash intro which goes ahead entering the site
and also can load longer because of movie and sound.

But if a simple HTML web site loads more than 2-3 minutes and you can’t see all images or they are shown partially, you must be watchful. Check another HTML sites from the portfolio – if they are also loading for ages, it’s better to search for another web design company because this one is not professional.

All of the aforesaid is correct only if bandwidth of your Internet connection is normal and usually you don’t have problems with loading web sites.

Test the site for user-friendly navigation, pay attention to colors combination, and estimate general impression from the site – all this must reflect professional work. But sometimes a web design company is forced to design a site strictly according to the customer’s wishes, so if the customer lacks for good taste the site also looks tasteless. There can one or two such sites in the portfolio, but not all!

5) Happy owners

Web design business is a highly competitive area and as in any business there are honest and dishonest players. Sometimes it happens that you see the same site in portfolio of two different web design companies and it’s difficult to find the truth to which of them the work really belongs. Some quirky companies place cheap templates in their portfolio with fake owners’ contact info.

That’s why it’s very important to know real references of real owners of the web sites the web design company has made. Ideally this info must be accessible on the web design company site under Portfolio, Testimonials, or Clients sections. Try to contact ALL of the persons listed there and compare their opinions. You may get to know some interesting facts.

6) Own site of web design company

And finally compare the own site of the web design company to web sites presented in its portfolio. Are they similar by quality, technology used, and overall feeling? If the works from the portfolio look much poorer than the own site this can mean that the own site was ordered from another web design company, more professional. Yes, it happens sometimes in web design business that start-up amateur company commits its web site design to “older” professionals. In such case you better to continue searching for another web design company.

So these 6 rules can help you to make the right choice. Don’t be afraid to spend longer time for search and analysis, finally you will only benefit by getting perfect web site that will give new prospects to your business and make it more successful.

Earn On Offshore Web Design

If you have some experience in web site design and want to make good money you can try acting as IT-outsourcing partner. Learn more what you should know and how to start.

Why offshore web design and development?

Offshore web site design and development help to keep prices at least 3-5 times less, for example, average hourly rate of web development services in USA is $35-75; in UK – $25-50, in Ukraine – $5-20.

How it works?

Typical plan is like that:

  • You find a client who needs a web site, ask his/her requirements for the project and send to your offshore partner company.
  • The partner makes a proposal and gives you the project estimation basing on his hourly rate, for example, $10.
  • You mark up the rate $10/hour as high as you wish (and can – taking into consideration competition in your region, level of demand for web design services, and other marketing factors), for example to $30/hour, and sends the proposal to the client. So if the web design project is estimated on 50 man-hours of work, you charge the customer $1500, from which $500 you pay to your offshore partner company, and $1000 is your profit.
  • The partner company works on the project and delivers it to you along with copyright for the work.
  • You deliver the site to the customer.

Result – you have a satisfied client and good profit from the marked up price.

How to start?

The first and most important step is to analyze market in your region and decide if it’s worth to start this business.

If you already have your own web design company it is easier for you because you already know situation in the market, gain certain reputation, have clients list, etc.
But don’t be afraid if you are new to web design business. Believe in yourself and work hard and finally you will be rewarded for all your efforts. As in any type of business, starting the one in web design area, you must ask yourself general marketing questions:

  1. Who will be your customers?
  2. Why they will order the web design services exactly form you?
  3. Where and how they will get to know about you?

Without having clear answers to these questions you shouldn’t try to start anything.

The second step is to find trustful and reliable partner – offshore web design company – that will work as “development center” for your business. This company must have good experience in web design and development area, good reputation, top level of customer care and communication. There are many resources in the Internet where you can find necessary information – search engines, web design directories, outsourcing portals.

For example, you can try searching in search engines for appropriate key phrases “offshore web design”, “offshore web site design”, “offshore web development” and analyze sites of your potential partners.

Discover How To Make Your Web Design

Whenever I thought of web design my face would frown, I just hated the fact that I had to do any kind of web design. I just couldn’t see why web design was simple for others and not for me.

Well, that all changed when I discovered this simple program, a web design machine made for those who just don’t understand that you can do it yourself if, you would only keep your web design as simple as possible.

Since using this program I have been able to launch two websites with my own web design style within two months, these websites aren’t perfect, but they do look very professional.

And, they carry my touch, yes, at last I can boost to my friends how easy web design is for me, because they have no clue that I am using my little secret weapon for my web design.

What does it take to design your own website?

Now, for those who don’t understand what it takes to design your own website from scratch, I will give you five important steps you need to master, before you can get your website to the next level.

Five steps for perfected web design:

1) You Need Some Type Of Web Design Software

No one and I repeat no one, is doing web design the expensive way (The truth: Some are still wasting money paying for web design). Those who has enough money, pay for their web design, and those who can’t will have to get their hands on a easy to use web design software that gets the job done.

2) You Need To Know Some HTML

No matter what type of web design software your using, you must educate yourself with a little HTML. There is no way around that. Once you get the feel for simple little HTML code snippets, you will notice that you never ever need to know more than that, because you already have my little secret weapon ( My secret web design software program, that I will lead you to very soon).

3) You Need To Know How To Layout Your Website

Wow, another killer, I had no clue how or what to do, much less layout a web site. That all changed when I bought my little secret weapon, it came with a manual loaded with tips on not only how to use the software, but also how to layout your website template.

4) You Need To Master Internal Linking

If you going to design your own website, you must know how to internally link you website together. Ah, well, not really if you have my secret web design software you won’t need to know how. This is taken of by the program, it creates all your internal linking,
without you even understand how it’s done, isn’t that cool.

5) You Need To Keep Your Web Design Simple

This one should have been number one, because it is so important and yet so overlooked. Look around the web and notice the top sites online, they are all use very simple web design with lots of white space. Don’t get flashy if your building a website for profit.
Look at Google and Yahoo, they are very simple and that’s what you need to do when you design your website.

Anyway, I have given you some tips that should set your web design on fire, if you follow and study successful web sites online, you will see the trend, simplicity wins the web design war.

And now, for the long awaited secret weapon, just browse over to this simple web designed site and watch the video, you will understand why this is a secret weapon that only the guru’s use, once you try it.

Be advised, your web design doesn’t get return visitors, it is well written and informative content, so why spend thousands on web design, while searchers are only looking for information.

Finding the Perfect Web Designer

So, you’ve decided that your company needs a web site. Now what? Since we are ultimately talking about your “online business image”, unless you yourself have web design experience, finding that perfect web designer to create your company site is a very important next step. If you’ve never had a web site created before, you will find that there is quite a lot to consider if you want your site to be successful, and you may have to do a bit of homework to find the right person for you.

Regardless of the type of site you want, to be successful, your site will need to do, at least, these 3 things:

  • Look professional
  • Function properly
  • Get good positioning on the search engines

In achieving this goal, there’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is that there are all kinds of designers out there, offering all kinds of services, and prices are pretty much across the board. The good news is that there are some simple points you can follow to help make this process easier.

So, how do you go about finding a designer?

Since there are so many different companies offering web design, you might start by making a list of what your specific needs are. Every site is unique so it’s a good idea to know what you need before you start calling around or sending in estimate forms. Some things you might need to know are:

  • Will you be selling a product online?
  • Does your site require a database?
  • Do you also need web hosting? or a domain name?
  • Do you want to have your clients contact you through a form?
  • How many pages do you think the site will be?
  • Are there any pages or features specific to your business that you would like to have on your site?

Also, write down a couple of URLs of sites that you like. Or maybe you’ve seen a specific feature on another site that you would like to incorporate into your own site. Having a rough idea of the kind of site you’re looking for will help you find the right designer for your project.

Referrals

One of the best ways I’ve found to find the right designer is to get a referral from someone you know personally who has already had their site designed and they are happy with the site, and their experience with the designer. So let your friends and family know that you are shopping around for someone to help you create your online business image. People who have had a good experience with their web design company will be more than happy to pass the information along.

If you do get a referral from someone, go and look at the designer’s site and see what else they’ve done. If you’re interested, you can fill out a free quote form on their site, or email the designer with the specs of your project.

Job sites

There are a number of online sites that will help you match your project with a number of designers who will then bid on your project. The one thing to be aware of is that these sites have all types of designers listed with their service from those with years of experience, to those who just bought themselves the latest version of Front Page and have now labeled themselves “web designer”.

Although these job sites do make it harder for less experienced people to be listed as a serious prospect, when they ask for your project description, you can include on there that “only serious professionals need apply”. You can sometimes eliminate the amount of riff-raff that will send in proposals for your project.

The biggest problem people have with using these job sites is that potential clients are usually overwhelmed with the number of quotes they receive for their project. Be aware that you may have to rifle through a lot of proposals that are not what you are looking for.

These sites usually offer a Designer’s Profile and some kind of a rating system, which can help you learn a bit about a potential designer. Reading the reviews listed from previous clients can also help shed some light on your choice of designers.

Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages ads are expensive so chances are that you will find professional design firms to successful web design individuals listed there. They will usually list their URL in their ad and it’s always a good idea to go to their site and see what they have to offer before contacting them.

What you should be looking for in a designer?

Possibly you have a couple of designers you are interested in. But how do you know for sure? There are a few specific things that you should be aware of when picking your designer.

Portfolio

First and foremost, you want to check out their portfolio! This is the body of work that this designer has recently created and it tells a lot about what they offer. All web designers should have an online portfolio that you can easily access.

Take a good look at their own site and other sites they’ve created. Do the sites look professional? Is the style of the designer something you would like to have on your own site? In addition, you can contact companies that have had their site designed and ask them about their experience with this designer.

Price

Another thing to consider, although this is not the top priority, is price. Although there is no clear-cut rule as to what an “average” price for web design is, this is one situation where, in most cases, you get what you pay for. This is simply not the time to cut corners. So in considering price, also consider that you are paying for this individual’s expertise, as well as their time and experience.

It is more important to create a successful site that has a good position in the search engine and one that you are very happy with the look and function of than to save a couple of bucks. If you get a good site, your site will be able to grow with your company and, hopefully, that’s for a very long time!

Search engine optimization

The number one mistake that most first time web site owners make is that they don’t know what to do with their site after it’s designed. It is very possible to have a beautiful site designed for you and no one ever sees it.

A good designer will not only help you create a professional looking site, they will also ensure that your site gets a good ranking with the search engines so that your site can be easily found online. Make sure that your designer will optimize your site for the search engines and submit it to the major search engines.

Specialized services

Will you be selling your products or services online? Will you need a database driven site? How about Flash or embedded video or audio? Not everyone offers these services; be sure to ask specifically about what you will need for your site.

A couple of other things to consider is web hosting and domain name registration. Make sure if you need these services that your designer can help provide them too.

Compatibility

Lastly, when you are talking to potential designers, it should be someone you seem compatible with. Does the designer seem friendly and are they willing to answer all of your questions? Do they respond promptly to your emails and/or phone calls? Basically, is this someone you “click” with?

Communication with your designer is crucial. You need someone who is willing to answer any questions and keep you up-to-date on the status of your web design. A good designer will keep in touch with you every few days, at least. You don’t want to get down to the final days of creating the site only to find out you don’t like it!

Testimonials

Most designers will have testimonials from previous clients on their web site. It’s a good idea to see what their customers are saying about their services, and again, calling one or two clients regarding this web designer’s services is a really good idea.

Summary

There are many factors involved in finding and picking the right designer to build your company’s web site, but the key is to remember that this is your business image, one that you hope to have for many years to come, so you want to pick your designer as you would pick a real estate agent to find your “dream house”. If you pick the right designer the first time, you won’t be looking for someone to redesign your site in 6-9 months.

Finding a Professional Web Designer

Your web site is your storefront window on the World Wide Web. It must grab the viewer’s attention and be clear, all in a matter of seconds. Otherwise, it’s onto the next site listed on the search engine.

Choosing the best person to create your new web site is one of the most important tasks a business must undertake. It is also one of the most difficult because of the amount of freelance designers, advertising agencies, public relation firms and web development consultants flooding the market. Following are a few helpful hints to make sure you select the right web designer.

Why Hire a Professional Web Designer?

Let me phrase the question another way, ‘Why post your billboard in woods’? Most reputable web designers know a thing or two about search engines … but that’s not enough to put your business on the map when it comes to search engine results. What you want is a professional designer who knows how to build a ‘search engine friendly’ web site.

The key between the two professionals is one will build you a web site with pretty pictures, text links and a welcome page that leaves you invisible to search engines, while the other will do the same thing but with the coding and programming that makes your web site irresistible to search engines. The difference between selling and not selling on the web, and being found or buried on page 15 of the search engine results, is knowledge in building a search engine friendly site.

Create a Web Site Requirements List

If you’re looking for a ‘one-stop-shop-solution’ you should have a solid project plan in place. This will save you money, time and effort in the long run. Browse the Internet and create a list of web sites that have the general look and feel of how you envision your own web site. Note the things you like about each of the sites. You are essentially compiling a list of the ‘best of the best’ features you want to incorporate into your new web site.
If you are shopping for web design quotes, don’t forget to ask the web design vendor some basic questions:

* Do you provide client references?

* Will I be able to edit my own web pages?

* Are the web sites you design search engine friendly?

* Is logo design included in the web quote?

* How many design concepts and revisions will you provide?

Avoid the Template Trap

The problem with Web templates is that they are “closed systems.” Usually navigation placement is hard coded so that custom programming or effects are not allowed or easily configured. Every month someone will call us to complain that their ‘template based web site’ looks horrible, or the web template system is too hard to use or understand. A great example of cookie-cutter, web template web sites abound in the field of real estate. All these sites look the same. Why on earth would a real estate agent not want to stand out from the crowd in such a highly competitive online field? The bottom line is, stay away from templates. They’re cheap in cost and cheap in delivery.

Establish a Web Production Budget

The web design process ranges from the novice who spends a few hours putting together sites of amateur quality, to high-end quality web projects that result in a world-class web presence. If you plan on spending $400 on your web site, don’t waste your time or money. Your site will most likely look cheap, be an embarrassment and actually hurt your business and image. Better off to stay as you were.

However, when you’re serious about launching a Web site to grow your business, you can do it without mortgaging your house. Here are some facts and figures from across the U.S. to consider when putting together the budget for your web site.

Small business Web sites – $2800 to $3900

Small business e-commerce Web sites – $3600 to $4200

Medium business Web sites – $3800 to $5200

Medium business e-commerce Web sites – $4200 to $7200

Large business Web sites – $7200 to $10,000

Large business e-commerce Web sites – $9200 to $15,000

A well-crafted web site can bring you new or additional online traffic resulting in new clients and customers. First impressions matter, so work with your web designer to capture the image or branding that you want to convey to your Internet visitors.

Now that you understand the basic principles of finding a professional web site design company, submit your request for design quotes online and compare what you are getting for the cost.

How to Choose a Web Design

On the Internet today, there are many people who call themselves web designers and web design companies. Some people do it for fun, as a hobby or part-time. Web designers that design full-time are the way to go.. Someone who does web design in their part-time tends not to take it as seriously as someone who does it for a living. There are also people who do web design, who have no formal training. Make sure your web designer has some formal training from a recognized school. People who are self taught, although I applaud them for doing it, have relied on the Internet for all their information, and as you know information on the Internet can be inaccurate.

Relevant Experience

The web design company you choose for your project should have relevant experience. If you would like them to design a e-commerce website, it is best to choose a web designer who has e-commerce websites in their portfolio. Your web design company should be ready to submit a proposal for your website project along with a contract. Beware of companies who don’t give you a formal contract. The contract should outline exactly what the web designer will do and how long it will take, the price, and what you have agreed to supply. A formal contract is the best way to avoid disagreements between the web designer and you. Make sure your contract outlines every possible problem that can happen.

Different types of websites

There are different types of websites such as: static HTML (brochure type), e-commerce (with a shopping cart), database, Flash and a website with your own content management system. All of these must come into perspective when you are looking for a web design company. For example if you are looking for a fully interactive Flash website you better make sure that the web design company you choose has done many Flash websites. There is a difference between companies who can do Flash headers for a standard HTML site and web designers who can create a full flash website. Your best bet when choosing a web design company is to have a face to face meeting when discussing what it is you would like to have your website look like , also some sketches and some addresses of websites that you like. This gives the web design company the chance to fully understand what you are looking for and a better chance to give you an accurate proposal.

Things to take into consideration

Does the web design company have an update package? You must know that after your website has been created, from time to time you will require updates. Maybe they will be small maybe not. If the web design company you are choosing does not have an update package, you should inquire about the price of updates after the initial design. You should take the price of updates into consideration before you begin the design process. Make sure the web design company or web designer you choose sets realistic goals for the timeline. Usually if it sounds too good to be true then it is.

Many web designers have their own personal style. For example my personal style is clean and bright colors. Some web design companies love Flash and always build Flash websites. This would not be ideal if you are looking for an extremely search engine friendly website.

You would also have to consider guarantees. Does your potential web design company offer a guarantee? Most web design companies do not. So when you find one who does, you can know that they feel very confident in their capabilities. Another thing to consider is: Does the web design company display a phone number that they can be contacted at. Sometimes as a client you would like to speak with someone, not just get a reply to an e-mail the next day.

How to a find a web design company

There are a few ways to find web design companies in your area. One way is to search the web for: “Vancouver web design” or “Sarasota Web design”, obviously depending on the city closest to you. You could also search the Yellow pages for web design companies. Most web design companies who can afford to advertise there have already built a pretty go reputation and have been in business for a while.
Another option is search the web and when you see a website you really like, check for a link on the bottom of the page or on a contact page.

What a Professional Web Designer

Once upon a time, a business could choose not to have a web site. They reasoned that they did not need a professional web site; they could do just fine without one. Then, one of their competitors decided to get a web site and a buzz was created. Not to be outdone, another competitor decided to follow suite. Then another and then another. Pretty soon customers were asking the business if they had a “Web Design is the your business”. Finally, they realized that they needed a website in order to keep up with their competitors. And so, the Internet exploded. These days, everyone has a web site. From large corporations to small businesses; families to individuals, everyone is on the Web. A friend of mine even created one for his infant child.

This article is created to speak to the few remaining businesses that have yet to tackle the Internet beast. You want to have a web presence, but it seems a daunting task. “Where do I start?” you say. “What issues will I need to address so that I make the most of my new web site?” you continue. This brief article will cover some of the areas of the webdesign process to pay particular attention to. We have designed many web sites for clients that had no idea where to start. We firmly believe that client education is a vital part of the overall success of the web project. Most professional web design companies have published some guidelines that will help potential clients answer some of their questions. It is with that in mind that we have written this article.

Why do you want a web site?

Will your web site be for personal use (just show some photographs to your family members, for example)? Will it be to advertise a business service? Will it be an informational web site, simply to pass on knowledge to the visitor? Will it be used to sell a product? Is it important that you show up #1 in Search Engines?

These are vital questions with which to begin. The answers you come up with will determine the direction in which the overall design should go.

Do you have a business logo?

If you have been in business, you may already have a logo or a trademark that your customers recognize. If that is the case, do you have the original graphic that can be emailed? It will be important to use that on your web site.

If you do not have a logo or anything by which your customers currently know you, do you have any ideas about what you might like, a sketch, a doodle or something similar? Whatever the case, usually a professional web design company can design a professional logo for you or reuse your current one.

Do you have particular colors that you want to use?

Not all colors work well on the Internet. Generally, selecting a few colors is the best path to take. Your web designer can help you select quality colors that will come together in a design that you will be proud to show off.

Have you seen web sites that you like?

Providing an example (or examples) of a site that you like is a good way to help your web designer understand the look you are after. A professional webdesign company will usually get this type of feedback from their clients. Then they will have a feel for their “taste” and can use that as a pattern for their site.

Do you have a web site domain name?

This is the actual address of the web site. It is what you will rattle off when someone asks you, “Do you have a web site?” If you do not have one registered already, your web designer can take care of that for you. Some web design companies may charge a yearly fee for this service, anywhere from $10 to $50. However, some web design companies offer this service at no charge. Make sure to ask your web design company about this upfront so that there is no confusion.

Do you know how many web pages you want for your site?

Almost all web sites have a Home page, a Contact Us page and a Links page. However, after that, you have to determine what you want features to emphasize about your business. Is it important that visitors know some history about your company? If so, you will need an “About Us” page. Do you have categories of product that you want to feature on your web site? If so, each category will have its own page. Do you want visitors to be able to fill out an order form when they are ready to buy something? If that is the case, you will need an “Order Form” page.

Your web designer will ask you about this facet of your web site, but it is good to think about this on your own before you take that step. As a rule, the more pages a web site has, the higher the cost. So choose a web design company that you are comfortable with and don’t let them talk you into more pages than you really need.

Do you have graphics and photographs to use on your site?

If you have pictures to use on your site, are they in a high-quality digital format? As a rule, a scanned photograph will not look good on your website. The best pictures are ones taken with a digital camera. These can be used on the web site and formatted so that they have a professional look.

Many web design companies are able to take pictures for you. Usually, this service is an additional charge, so make sure you discuss this option.

Will you maintain the web site yourself?

If so, do you have an understanding of the Code Languages used to create your web site. Some of these languages may include:

  • PHP
  • HTML
  • XML
  • SWF

If you are comfortable with these languages, your web design company can probably setup the web site to allow you to maintain it yourself. However, most companies will not support sites in which the client has made changes to the original code. Make sure to discuss this during your initial consultation.

Some companies will create Content Management Systems (CMS). These allow their clients to update the website without having to touch the original code. With a custom CMS, if you can create a document in a Word Processing program, you can change your website content. This means you do not have to learn any programming languages and, at the same time, you do not have to call your web design company every time you want to update your site. Of course, the company you choose should always be available to assist if you get stuck. They should also be willing to e-mail you a link to show a demonstration of their custom CMS.

Hopefully, this article has given you some good guidance to follow on the path to your new web site. With some advanced preparation, you will tackle the Internet beast with no problem. The web design company you choose should be willing to supply you with a list of satisfied clients. Take the time to review the list. Contact the clients listed and ask them for their opinions of the company. This will give you some good information to help you make a good decision.