Finding the Best Designer to Build Your Website

There are many website designers from whom to choose, but which one is the best choice? This article provides some tips to help select the ideal website designer.

Many people are quick to say that building a website is easy. But for those short on time or expertise, or who want a very polished, professional-looking site in a relatively short period, a website designer may be the answer. However, there are so many web designers from whom to choose. Here are some tips to help screen for the best person or company for the job.

Identify Web Design Needs

It is essential to define specific website needs before shopping for a website developer. Requirements range from a basic site so customers can find a place of business and contact information to highly interactive multimedia sites. Next, think about whether the planned Website will stay the same or change over time. Is there a need for continuous site updates by the designer? Write a list of the desired features of the Website, then do an Internet search for Websites that might provide some additional ideas. For example, a writer would search for other writers’ sites and save printouts or screenshots of particularly appealing sites. Finally, it’s essential to get a handle on the budget available for Website design.

Narrow the Website Designer Search

Check favorite sites for the Web designer (usually listed in small print toward the bottom of the page). Narrow choices by searching for local designers or designers specializing in a particular type of site (e.g., “writers web design” search). Sites like Web Design Plaza allow a custom search for a Website designer that fits various, specific needs.

The breadth of Web Design Experience

Start by checking out the overall look, readability, and navigation of the Website designer’s own site (if they don’t have one, that’s a bad sign!). Website designers can range from college kids who create the occasional Website to teams equipped with experts in graphic design, marketing techniques, writing and editing, the latest technology developments, and search engine optimization (SEO; using keywords or phrases to help drive traffic to a Website). If the goal is to reach a wide audience, it’s important to evaluate the prospective Website designer for SEO skills.

Experienced Web designers will provide samples of their previous work so potential customers can get a feel for what they’ve produced. If every page looks the same, the designer favors templates rather than providing custom website designs. If the samples look good, also evaluate how many types of Websites the designer has built. A wide range of customer types and website capabilities can indicate a high level of creativity, skill, and flexibility.

Availability of the Designer

As customers and website designers work together, many questions will arise. Seemingly simple issues, such as how visitors will navigate through the site, can end up requiring several rounds of questions and answers between customer and Web designer. In addition, new questions are likely to arise as the Website develops, and the customer will likely need some terms and concepts explained.

Ask a prospective Website designer about how he or she communicates with clients. Try to get a feel for the designer’s people skills and the demands of his or her workload. Especially if the planned site is fairly complex, it is important to find a designer that can be contacted promptly and who is willing to take the time to explain the development.

It may be advantageous to hire a designer who can meet in person, or at least be available by phone, rather than relying solely on e-mail exchanges. It may also pay to speak with some of the designer’s previous customers to see if they are satisfied with their sites and how smoothly the process went.

Website Design Prices Vary Widely

When communicating with prospective site designers, it is essential to be clear on the available budget and the expected time frame. Determine whether the Web designer will charge a flat fee or an hourly rate and whether they will provide estimates and itemized invoices. Don’t forget to ask about fees for hosting, training customers on updating their own sites, and any other ongoing or special services.

In a nutshell, the best advice for choosing a website designer is the same, time-tested advice that applies to most consumer ventures. Be sure to identify the site’s specific needs and budget and evaluate what the designer offers. Perhaps most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions. A thorough search and screening upfront will pay off by finding the best designer to meet your needs.