Finding the right match in the field of website design is really not that different than shopping for an auto mechanic, a physician, a plumber of a financial advisor, as there are always multiple questions to be asked: Is this person qualified? Do they have a good reputation in their field? Will they listen to my concerns and take action accordingly? Picking the right individual or company can lead to an efficient and pleasant experience; picking the wrong individual can lead to headaches, compounding problems or worse.
When looking around for the right person to design or redesign your website, it’s especially crucial to be thorough: after all, this designer will be crafting a product that introduces you to the world at large and educates your visitors as to what you wish to accomplish with your site. Will their design be engaging enough to encourage repeated visits? Will users be able to navigate with ease? Will the person you hire provide comprehensive post-design support?
The variable may seem endless, but there are some must-ask questions that can help you track down the perfect website designer. So when you begin your hunt, consider these six elements to finding a good—hopefully even great—site builder.
- Nothing is more important than choosing a designer that listens to you. After all, you know better than anyone what you want to accomplish with your site, whether it’s to raise awareness of an important cause you’re passionate about; brand and launch your own e-tail business; get information about you and your company in front of a specific customer base etc. Don’t let your designer run rampant with your site: indeed, it’s incumbent on you, the client, to stay on top of their efforts so there are no disturbing surprises when it comes time to launch. Remember, it’s your reputation and, ultimately, your money on the line.
- It may sound like a no-brainer, but be sure the designer you’re courting is using not only a wide array of web design tools but also the most current versions. This will ensure that your site operates to the latest and highest standards free of bugs. Additionally, as software designers roll out new and better versions of their programs, everything from photos to graphics to animation and layout templates will look better and stand more apart from the crowd.
- Too often, busy website designers will have a standard catalog of design templates they work from. But do any of those templates appeal to you, the client? If not, a professional designer will strive to find —or create themselves—a customizable or wholly custom template that works with your needs and desires.
- Search engines such as Google are constantly revamping the way they index and rank websites. So it’s vitally important—especially if you’re in a competitive business or non-profit market—that your page gets a good listing. Ensure your designer is thoroughly versed in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by looking at some of their previous work and doing keyword searches. Are sites they designed in the past getting positive rankings? If so, chances are they have a decent SEO record and can get your page front-and-center in search results.
- Be absolutely sure your designer is well versed in responsive design. More and more people nowadays—the majority of people really—are accessing websites on their mobile devices rather than on traditional desktops or laptops. A site crafted with response design means that your pages will appear normally to a user no matter what type of device they’re viewing it on. Not sure this is an important element for your site? Consider what would happen if a client wants to make a large purchase on your site but, when the go to the “checkout” button, the pertinent information falls of the page or doesn’t appear at all. This could quickly and easily translate to permanently lost revenue. Now imagine if that happens for dozens or hundreds of customers? Scary indeed.
- A good designer will offer—sometimes as part of their standard contract, sometimes for an added fee—backend support and personal training. This can be a vital part of the site design experience, as you may want to make tweaks right after it goes live depending on the sorts of visits your receiving, the amount of revenue it’s generating etc. Also, if you plan on administering the site yourself—making updates, editing text and photos and the like—a good designer can get you up to speed and should be available if you get stuck on something.