Thursday, May 10, 2012

5 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer

Does the idea of hiring a web designer make you cringe?

When you're investing a hefty sum of money into a website, you want to ensure you hire a designer who isn't just artistically gifted, but who also genuinely cares about your business.

By looking for the following 5 items, you can help ensure you hire the best of the crop:

1. Carefully Inspect Their Portfolio

This tip may seem obvious, but they are a few pointers worth noting. First, thoroughly look over each site included in the portfolio. Is it user-friendly and professional-looking? Does the design make sense for the business?

Second, has the designer created sites for various kinds of businesses? 

And, third, consider the web designer's site itself. If the designer's site falls short, and their portfolio sites are questionable, it’s probably time to move on in your search.

2. Note How the Designer Speaks to You

If you're not naturally tech-savvy, dealing with a web designer can seem downright intimidating. Thus, if a designer starts spitting out technical jargon in an assertive voice, you may find yourself simply agreeing with whatever they say.

Naturally, there are technical issues involved when it comes to web design. But when you begin consulting with a designer, their primary focus should be on meeting the needs of your business. If they’re talking more than listening, particularly if they’re spitting out nothing but technical terms, that raises some serious red flags. 

Also, consider their tone. Are they respectful? Are they willing to explain anything you don’t understand? Do they seem interested in making you - the client - happy? If not, forming a working relationship with such a designer would probably not be wise. 

3. Are They Willing to Draft a Project Proposal?

Not every web designer routinely drafts a project proposal. However, as a small business with a limited budget, it's wise to request one. Otherwise, it's a toss-up as to what you're actually paying for.

At a minimum, the proposal should clearly spell out what the overall objective of the website is (as each business is different), how many pages the site will contain, and what information will be included on each page. I also highly recommend that it include a mock-up of what the site will look like visually. (Think in terms of a screenshot of a website.) You need to make sure the graphics, colors, fonts, etc. will make sense for your business, and that the design will be aesthetically pleasing.

You may be tempted to skip this step - especially if you’re impressed with a designer’s portfolio. But don't. Remember - your website is the most powerful marketing tool you possess, so be sure you know what you’re getting. 

If a designer is offended by the idea of a project proposal, consider moving on to another designer.

4. Are They Supplying You with a Clear Quote?

Before writing a check, make sure you have a clear-cut quote in writing. The quote should spell out several things:

  • The total cost of the project (whether it is calculated on a per hour basis or a total sum)
  • The payment terms (such as half up front, half upon completion; due dates, etc.) 
  • A project deadline (when the site should be 100% completed)
  • A detailed list of what is included in the quote (such as the gathering and editing of content, uploading the site upon completion, etc.)

If a designer won’t give you a detailed quote, run like the wind!

That being said, be aware that some fine print is routine. For example, at the bottom of a  detailed quote it may say, “Any work requested that is not included in this quote may require additional compensation.” The designer is simply protecting themselves from clients who would try to add to the project beyond what was quoted them. (Which happens!)

5. Is the Designer Pursuing a Business Relationship - or a Large Check?

From the initial consultation phase through the proposal and quote stage, ask yourself: Does the designer seemed more interested in forming a business relationship or getting a check? Just as in other areas of business, there are designers out there who on the latter, and obviously that won't help your business! So even if a designer has the best portfolio you've seen, beware. You need someone who won’t high-tail it the minute the check clears!

Have you used any of the above criteria in the past? What other things have you looked for in a quality web designer?

No comments:

Post a Comment