I know nothing about web design – help!
Finding the right web designer is a bit of a crap shoot, isn’t it? There are so many variables to what you get for your money, and an incredible range in price. One client told me she got two separate quotes of $500 and $5000 for the very same project. How do you know who to trust?
Many people don’t know what to ask for, or what’s involved. They often find out months after their website is completed and have to work backwards, wasting both time and money.
Let’s break down the components:
- Domain name registration
- Visual design
- Functionality of website
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- Written content
- Branding (visual and written communication)
- Marketing strategy
- Social Media
- Ongoing maintenance / updates to website
Does this list make you twitch?
If most of the above is unfamiliar to you, you will either need to do some research, or depend on others for guidance. Numbers 1 – 5 are usually part of a website package, but be sure to confirm this. Numbers 6 – 9 are usually left up to you. Number 10 varies from one designer to the next, but most will take care of your updates for a fee, if that’s your preference.
If you intend on doing your own updates, be sure content management is included in the offering. Ask what level of expertise is needed to use it. This can vary from a system as easy as using a Word document, to one that requires some experience with content management software.
The Skinny Answer
If you want a quick and simple answer to ‘how to find the right web designer’, start by finding someone who’s already happy with their web designer. Then ask for a preliminary meeting to get a feel for his or her approach.
Does he / she seem to care about your individual requirements? Does she / he ask about your business, your goals, your vision? Address all the items in the list above. Who is expected to provide each component?
The Keg-size answer – let’s explore options
Domain name registration options:
- Register it yourself. I like Fat Cow, but a lot of people use GoDaddy. Advantage: you will own the name.
- Have your web designer register it. Advantage: no stress, your web designer knows what to do.
- Have your web designer register it in your name, using your credit card number. Advantage: no stress, and you own it.
- Arrange your own hosting (see Fat Cow). Advantage: Sometimes new users get specials deals.
- Most web designers will host your website for you. Ask if there is a fee. Advantage: no stress, sometimes it’s free.
Visual Design Options:
- Trust your web design to accurately reflect your brand in the design. Advantage: less work.
- Provide your own images and sketches or examples of your vision. Advantage: more control.
- Do you need any interactive elements, such as a shopping cart, user feedback forms, a blog, etc?
- Make sure you explain thoroughly what you want your website to DO and what you want a user (your potential client) to DO with your website: view images, read information, buy something, contact you, become informed, educated, excited, motivated…
SEO (search engine optimization) options:
- Ask your web designer which SEO features will be provided with your website. At a minimum, you should expect SEO friendly coding and structure. Optional features might include: incorporating key words into the title tags, meta description tags, and the body of the written page content.
- You can also hire an SEO expert to work with your web designer. Advantage: potentially better results. (When hiring: do your due diligence and if possible, get a referral from a happy customer.)
Written content options:
- Write your own content (this is normally expected). Advantage: You know your business best.
- Ask your web designer to interview you and have your content written for you (will usually incur extras fees). Advantage: SEO can be incorporated, content may be more effective at selling your offer.
- Decide for yourself how your website should be branded. Advantage: more control.
- Find out if your web designer has more branding expertise than you. Advantage: insight, an objective perspective, possibly better results and better audience reception.
- Hire a brand developer to coordinate with your web designer.
- Ask your web designer to incorporate your own marketing approach. Advantage: it’s free.
- Ask your web designer if she / he has marketing expertise to offer. Advantage: potentially better and more current resources and experience than yours.
- Hire an expert to incorporate marketing strategies during and after the website design process. Advantage: may be the most effective if you find the right person.
Social Media options:
- Set up and incorporate your social media yourself. Advantage: it’s free.
- Ask your web designer for help. Advantage: less stress, if you find this overwhelming.
- Hire a Social Media expert to help you with set up and strategy.
- Have your web designer take care of updates. Advantage: no stress, saves time.
- Ask for a content management system. Advantage: most economical, more control.
- Note: There are many CMS systems available, from WordPress to simple integrated systems which require no experience.
So there you have it. If you still find this overwhelming, there’s one simple answer: