Web Design – How to Choose the Right Web Designer or Developer For Your Project

Most, if not all businesses today, can benefit from a web site. If you already have a site that is not working for your business, or you are starting the process of finding a web developer, you can save a lot of time, trouble, and most importantly money, by answering a few questions before choosing a web designer.

What is your budget?
Money and time are the two most important factors to consider before making your choice. In general most of the sites I’ve worked on, or been have asked to work on, fall into three cost levels.

Realistically, $500, is the minimum that should be budgeted for the design/redesign of any site. It should be easy to find a good designer for $300-400 to create a good basic web site. But you will most likely have a few changes and updates, especially the first month or two after you launch your online presence. So it is always a good idea to add 10-15% to your budget for any changes, etc. that will most likely come up.

Many businesses already have some sort of web site or online presence by now. If you or your organization fall under this category, and are looking to redesign and/or update your site, you probably have a better idea of what your budget will be. Most likely it will be more than $500. The web site or application redesign could even cost thousands of dollars. So for redesigns, finding a developer with the right combination of skills is going to be the next major decision made.

There are basic skills that you should look for in any web designer. For instance you want to make sure that they can truly produce a functional web site. This seems obvious. But there are professionals that specialize in developing templates, flash and or other products, that can be converted to web sites. But they are not truly a final product. These are valid and valuable services. Just make sure that your final outcome will be a published functioning website.

Other things such as communication, schedule conflicts, experience in your market area, and looking at their previous work to see if their design style is a good fit for your organization, are basic questions that must be considered when looking at your candidates for your web project. Beyond the basics skills it is also helpful to look at the exact skill sets of the various designers vying for your project.

Today, the title webmaster encompasses a wide variety of specialists and skill types. For instance, many webmasters have a graphic design background. If you or your organizations requirements call for animation, video and/or a graphic intensive design, you would want to specifically find a web designer with a lot of experience with flash, photoshop, etc.

Some other common backgrounds that webmasters come from are: Computer Science, Marketing, Copywriting and Sales. There are many more. The main idea is to have a good idea of what the internet developer specializes in and the way you want to promote your site. Matching your developers background to your requirements can make the process much smoother.

There are also quite a few, like myself, that fall into many of the categories above. Although, some webmasters have a strong grasp on multiple areas of expertise, they are few and far between. There are many though that will have all the skills you require. Most developers that work on many types of projects will be a 6-9, on a scale of 1-10, in the various competencies your project requires.

The upside to working with a web developer who is not a 10 in any area, but who has multiple areas of expertise, is just that. The entire project can be managed by one person or group. Having worked on projects where multiple developers are involved, I can say it automatically adds a new layer of complexity to the project. Since you will have several developers working on various aspects of the project, you will have to manage work flow, communication and eventually piece it all together in the end. For these and many more reasons it is always best to work with just one developer or web design company at a time.

If you are working with a company that may have many people working on your site, it is always a good idea to ask a few more questions. You still have the advantage of having the entire project managed by one entity, but the problems of communication break downs and lag times can still be an issue. Most likely the project will be handled by a project manager that will then delegate and relay requests to various people within their web design company.

A good practice is to always back up any communication in writing and make sure that deadlines are part of that communication. For instance, much of my communication is by phone. It is very helpful to type up an email that covers all the action items, issues, etc. that were covered in the phone or in person meeting. I simply ask that they respond to the email to verify what was covered, or clear up any misunderstandings before work begins on any given phase of a web project.

Written communication to verify that everyone understands what is expected, and when, is a best practice for virtually any situation. It is even more important when you are working with a company instead of directly with a single web developer.

If your budget is less than $300-500 range, try to find some extra resources somehow to allow more budget for the project. Otherwise, you will most likely need to out source it to a company overseas. You also have the option to do the site yourself; Or find a rookie designer or friend with some knowledge to help. The downside to this is that it will take a lot more time.

If you simply can not increase your budget, the best thing to do is seek out a developer on a web job board. Sites such as guru and elance have many low cost developers that will bid on your project. If you choose to go this route you can cut down on the amount of time lost by having a very clear idea of what your final site should like and how it should function.

Increasing your own technical knowledge can also save some time. Since you will mostly likely end up working with a web developer in another country and another time zone, any mis-communication or diversion from the original request can leave you out of money with an incomplete web site. And as I said, will definitely cost you days, if not more, in time.

Is Your Web Designer Going to Finish the Job? Tips For Finding the Right Team

Avoiding a bad web design experience.

Unfortunately, the following is a very common story.

Chris, a small business owner, needs a web site for his new business. He does a few Google searches and comes up with a company in a different state and finds a “Gold Package” that seems to cover everything he wants for his web site. The price is less than half of what he thinks a local developer would charge (though he has never checked) and the web site of the company looks nice, so he submits his credit card data pays for his new “Gold Package.”

He then sets about to describe in writing (the company only communicates through email) what he wants. After sending his design ideas and content, he waits. And he waits. Finally, a few weeks later, he finds all of his content placed in a web site template and is told his website is “done.” There is no custom design and the box-like web site template looks like thousands of web sites he has seen–in the early 2000s. There is no custom graphic design work, and his web site looks very old-fashioned.

When he contacts the company, they respond with a email saying that if he wants to upgrade his package, he can have a better web site. All the samples on the web site are from the “Diamond Package”, which, of course, is more expensive.

So, after tens of hours of work and a few thousand dollars spent, Chris has very little to show for his efforts. It also turns out that if he wants to keep the web site, he will have to pay high monthly hosting charges and he is not able to modify the web site without using the development company.

Chris has wasted his time and money.

What could Chris have done to save money, time and get a great web site?
1. Chris’ first mistake was not to check for local web designers. Almost every community is served by at least a handful of local web designer. He could have met with a few local designers, checked out their references and received price quotes from them.

There are several advantage to local sourcing. The most important is responsibility. A local developer is much less likely to take on projects she can’t complete, because failure to complete a project will subject her to spending a lot of time in small claims court. An out-of-state developer, or worse yet, an out-of-country developer is unlikely to feel the same legal responsibility. Furthermore, a local developer is most likely well-aware of the value of referrals and developing a network of references. Finally, a local developer will be able to communicate face-to-face–an invaluable option when talking about design-related issues.

2. Chris also would have been wise to ask the online company a lot of questions. How much would the XYZ web site in their portfolio cost? Can I have the phone contact information for some of your clients? How many revisions am I allowed? Can I have the web site hosted on my server of choice? Does the price quote include setting up email accounts, changing the nameserver information, setting up the server, a grace period for changing typos?

3. While it’s a matter of great discussion in the web developer world, a client should not be expected to make more than a 50% deposit. No reputable web developer would accept less (except, perhaps from established clients), but to demand 75%-90% before any work is begun should raise some red flags.

4. Examine the web design contract closely. If there is no contract, find another developer.

5. Don’t base a web design project solely on cost. A good web site should represent a business well for a few years (or more). Look at the total costs, including the cost of your time, when determining the cost of a project. Also consider the risk of losing everything if your developer is out of state or in another country. If you can’t meet with the designer and have to describe everything in email, your time costs will be much higher. A poorly designed web site might not be of any use to your business.

Unfortunately, web design businesses can appear and disappear as fast as it takes to set up and turn off a web site. A smart business person will look at the all the risks and costs in the web design process.

Achieve Ultimate Online Success Through Professional Web Design and Development

There are lots of commercials on television pitching instant websites where you choose a theme, add your logo, some page content and you are ready to begin raking in the dough. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. Establishing a highly effective web presence is a lot more than a professional website theme and some content.

Complement your Vision with your Web Design and Development

A highly effective web presence that’s designed to engage targeted visitors, convert them into leads and buyers and promote viral sharing is what your web design and development should do. It is an important component but not all of what you must do to achieve success online. The type of web design and development must be matched to your conversion goals and will be considerably different for projects with a goal of eCommerce, business branding, lead generation, affiliate marketing, directories or online memberships.

Blog and Sales Page Web Design and Development that Works with Social Media Marketing

Restricting your web presence to content available only on your website excludes a much larger market of social media users who could be joining your list, ordering goods and sharing your information from a Facebook fan page or sales landing page. Experienced business people and entrepreneurs recognize the value of an effective profile and presence in such social media sites as Facebook, Twittler, YouTube and LinkedIn for BTB connections. Entering content in a blog optimized with critical keywords and phrases your market is searching, allows you to reach a sizable market who finds and explores your content where they can become loyal leads and customers.

Website Design and Development for Capturing More Mobile Users

There is also a huge predominantly untapped market of people who would rather access the internet through mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. A mobile friendly conversion of your website permits them to easily search and find your information, order your merchandise, bookmark and share. This trend is on the verge of exploding and competition is minimal at this time. An alternative is responsive web design and development that automatically adjusts the size and display of your content to fit the device where it is viewed.

Strategies for Effective Email Marketing Conversions

An important component of your internet presence is your email marketing strategy and the design of an HTML template that frames your eNewsletters and single message mailers. What many business owners do not recognize is that the majority of earnings come through your list as regular mailings and autoreponders that move serious prospects and buyers further into your marketing funnel where conversions are more likely.

Communicating your Brand Identity through Web Design and Development

As you reach out to a great deal more of your market via website design and development for your website, blog, Facebook fan page, mobile marketing devices and email marketing, think about the value of your brand identity. Is there a coordinated appearance and sense which is uniquely yours – something that includes your logo, colors, artwork and content which mirrors your mission, purpose, market, credibility and integrity? Do you make it painless for visitors to find your social media presence and subscribe to your eNewsletter list? Only a professional web design and development company can meet this goal. If you assume you can copy design components of an instant website theme to use on sales pages, Facebook fan pages plus a blog, you would be violating terms and conditions that prohibit your use of copyrighted artwork in other projects.

Convert your Visitors to Buyers through Effective Website Design and Development

An essential aspect of highly effective website design and development is the positioning and formatting of elements and just how they display on the screen. Obviously, this will be rather different based on the monitor resolution and device where your content is viewed. Typically, vital elements such as headlines, main video and subscription forms should be located toward the top and above the fold for websites, laptops and tablets. The design should be engaging, easy to follow with ample white space around content elements. Website navigation and footer should be consistent on every page with web conversion design components that decrease scrolling without restricting crucial content. The content should be arranged in a logical order ending with an effective call-to-action that is clear, easy and persuasive.

Experience Outstanding Online Results with a Professional Web Developer

You may save money if you hire a novice to develop your internet presence, but do you really want to put your future in the hands of an unproven firm? In a field where skill and expertise will determine your results, you can easily be throwing away good money and wasting valuable time without access to the right professionals. Instead of watching the money roll in to your bank account, you’ll experience aggravation and disappointment as your website sits among countless other non-producing websites in cyberspace. An investment in professional web design and development together with marketing strategies based on trends and proven practices, enables you to achieve a level of online success that can change your results and change your life.