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Web Design Articles - Tips and Ideas for Consumers and Web Designers

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Web Design Articles - Tips and Ideas for Consumers and Web Designers

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How to Choose a Web Design Company

First ask yourself why you want a website for your company or organization. The likely answer is that you have a product, service, or information that you would like other people to learn more about and you want this message to be displayed in an attractive and accessible way to your users. A website has become, in many cases, a great way to accomplish this goal efficiently.

Selecting a Web Design Company Requires Trust

Realize that you will be counting on and giving the responsibility to this web designer to develop your company's online image. In many cases, when a visitor arrives at your website, it may be the first time they have become aware of your company or organization. The first impressions you make to your visitors will greatly influence your potential customers' feeling about the quality of your products and services.

Consider the following criteria when selecting a web designer and you'll better know the right questions to ask. By gathering some quick and specific information, you can put yourself in a much more comfortable position when it comes to making your decision and choosing your web design company.

Hire Local Web Designers

If you are located in the U.S.A, it's true, there are web design companies everywhere. Most vary greatly in experience, quality, customer service and ability. With so many to choose from it might seem daunting, but that probably just means there is company relatively nearby who can provide exactly what you are looking for. Make it easy on yourself. If you haven't already been referred to an out of state or out of county web developer by a friend or colleague, limit your initial search to local website design companies. Using a local company can provide peace of mind and the option to meet in person (if necessary) to develop a closer working relationship. Browsing through the Web Designers by State web site company directory can be a great way to find local web design businesses. This web design directory allows you to view service information for over 4,300 cities in the U.S.

Compare Web Design Quality

To compare visual quality, look at previous web sites a company has built. Most companies have a "portfolio" section on their site. Usually they may include a small blurb about each project and a direct link to the website itself.

When viewing sample sites, pay attention to these details:

  • How easy is it to navigate and find information?
  • How well is branding used throughout the site?
  • Do the graphics appear sharp? Are the photos of good quality?
  • How much time does it take to load pages?
  • Are there original and useful features?

Make Sure the Web Designer Has Experience With Features You Need

Before contacting a web designer you should have a good idea of what you want to do and the type of features you need. When viewing a designer's sample sites, make sure they have already worked on projects that demonstrate the features you need (if possible). This way you know you'll be working with someone who has the experience necessary to do the job and will be much more likely to complete the web site on time and budget.

Call for References

Some web site companies have testimonials from previous and current clients printed somewhere on their site. While these can give you an idea of client satisfaction, you are best off "cold calling" a couple of their previous clients for a quick chat (call one of the companies found in their "portfolio" section). If the client was truly impressed with the website they had designed for them they will more than likely be glad to tell you about it. They can also give you an idea of how smoothly the process went, how long it took to develop the project, and how good they thought the customer service was. You might learn things you didn't even ask them directly about - such as website pricing information.

How to Factor Website Cost Considerations

There are "qualitative" as well as "quantitative" costs to consider. You could ask a couple of web design companies how much it would cost for "such and such a project", but you might also want to ask them how much they would do for you for a set amount. This way if you have a specific budget in mind you'll be able to determine the value a web design company is willing to offer.

Realize that a well designed site, even at a higher dollar amount, can often provide the best value. Since image and functionality goes a long way to "selling" the customer - you'll want to utilize the best tool you can afford. You might also consider asking the web developer to build the site in different phases so you can better handle associated costs. Unlike print advertising that may be thrown out, your web site will persist over time and is accessible virtually 24/7/365. You'll want to get your website done right the first time.

The Web Site Design - Typically your web site will be built for you at a quoted "flat rate." Once the specific tasks that are included in the quote have been completed you will need to pay the designer additional fees for updates and maintenance. Some web companies offer set "monthly maintenance" fees that supposedly cover your regularly requested updates. While this may seem attractive, you should realize that over time either you or your web designer will probably feel taken advantage of by this arrangement. Either you won't have enough updates that need to be made or you will be sending over so many update requests that the web designer gets frustrated and customer service and response time will grind to a halt. A better arrangement is to agree on an hourly rate that you will pay for web updates. Usually these will be billed in 15min increments and may vary if they are considered "emergency" or "short-notice." This way you'll only pay for the service you need and not more.

The Web Hosting - Typically you will be paying either a monthly or yearly recurring fee for a web hosting account. Your web hosting account will store the actual web page files that visitors will access when they visit your web site. Monthly costs can range from $1 to over $100. Something around $10-50 is most typical - it all depends on features. Make sure you know what you are getting. Some web hosting account plans have a built-in control panel that will let you easily update the content of your web site using only your web browser! These plans may have a higher monthly fee, but they can save you tremendous amounts of money in web maintenance and web update fees if you or an employee of your company can do the updates yourself. Ask the web design company you are considering if they offer such an option, it's often referred to as a "content management system."

Timeline Consideration - Time is money, right? Let your prospective web design company know how soon you'd like your web project completed. Get an agreed upon date in writing with your quote. While website quality is important, you can't make sales from your site unless it is up and running.

Honestly, the single most important factor to getting your website project completed promptly is to be prepared yourself. You should be ready with your business plan in mind, and have content ready and available to provide to your web designer (or know the type of content you want) before you give any website design company a call. This will not only save you and the web designer time, you'll also get better customer service - and that's hard to buy at any price.


Fact: as a web designer about 40-50% of my clients came to me because they weren't happy with the customer service they received from their current provider. Either their project was not getting done on time or their web designer was "AWOL" when they needed additional service. A good web design company will make promises they can keep. They'll also even know how to make you a better client! They will ask you the right questions and will provide clear communication to help manage expectations. Don't be afraid to give a call to one of your potential web design company's existing clients. Ask them how long they have been working together and how reliable their design company is. Having to switch from one web design company to another because of poor service - during development or afterwards - is a time consuming and unenjoyable process.



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