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7 Ways to Choose a Website Designer

Your competitors all seem to have Web sites and you're itching to start increasing business with one of your own. You've made the decision to go forward but you have one small problem; you don't know who to choose to design your site. You realize that this decision will have the greatest impact on your success on the Web. So, how do you begin?

  1. Step 1: Research

    The very first step in getting on the Web is to get a general idea of what you want your site to accomplish. Don't worry about details such as where graphics will be placed, what colors to use or how many pages there will be. There will be time for that later. Instead, determine your overall objectives.

    You need, at the very least, to resolve the following:

    • The goal of your site
    • The budget range
    • Your target audience
    • Required features
    • A site similar in size to what you want
    • A site similar in look and feel to what you want
    • A list of your competitors' sites.

    Once you've addressed these areas, this information will be included in the document you'll send to prospective designers in order to get an estimate. The more details you can provide, the more accurate the pricing will be.

  2. STEP 2: Search for Qualified Designers

    Finding qualified Web designers is a challenge. There is a shortage of good designers and a large demand for websites. There are people out there who can help you now; you just have to ask around to find them.

  3. STEP 3: Eliminate the Bad

    Your goal at this point should be to narrow your list down to the three most qualified firms. Go through your list by visiting the Web site of each company. Is their own site well designed? Do they do great work for their clients? Can they help bring publicity to you?

    These are questions you need to ask yourself. Start crossing out the companies about which you don't have a good feeling, until you're left with three.

  4. STEP 4: Make Contact

    Call or email to let them know that you're interested in having them design a site for you. Show them what you want using the document prepared in Step 1, and let them know what you expect. You should also give each of them a deadline for a response (usually no less than a week).

    Realize that these companies are now doing work on your behalf for no pay. Typically a firm will spend 1 hour per $1000 dollars preparing a response in order to get your account. You should not expect them to do any "free" design work or give you lots of ideas. If you show that you value their time and creativity, the relationship will get off on the right foot.

  5. STEP 5: Check References

    Check the references (3 minimum) of these designers while they're preparing their responses to you. Try to find out what working with them is like. Ask the hard questions. No project ever works out exactly as planned and problems always occur. Find out how they handle adversity. A little bit of homework here can save you a lot of misery later.

  6. STEP 6: Make the Choice

    Depending on the quality of the responses you receive and the impressions you get from the references, you should now have a good feeling about with whom you'd like to work. Trust your instincts.

    Don't make a judgement based on price alone. If you like the most expensive designer much more than the others, contact them and see if you can come up with a way to get the costs more in line with what you can afford.

  7. STEP 7: Follow Up

    Now for the final step: Debrief in a timely manner those firms not selected. Let them know why they weren't chosen and thank them for their efforts. It's not fun to do, but it is classy. It also shows your respect for them and the industry. Even though they didn't get your business, at least not yet, the feedback from you may help take the sting out of their time spent preparing the response for your project. That should be appreciated.

    Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how to go about the process of choosing a Web site designer. If you take your time, follow these steps and trust your instincts, you'll greatly increase your chances of having success on the Web. Good luck and good searching!


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