You may be a well established business looking for some improvements to your website, a sole trader just setting out on their business venture or you may be an entrepreneur in the making. Whatever your aspirations or goals are you realise that the internet is a fundamental factor in helping you achieve your goals.
I’ll get straight to the point.
There are web sites and then there sloppy web spaces masquerading as websites. Both are completely different. Just because you slapped some words on a pre-installed template and bagged yourself some cheap hosting doesn’t mean you have an effective online web presence.
What do you want to get from your website? What do you want it to be? Having a business website is not mandatory; you shouldn’t have a website just because it looks good on your business card. Having an effective online business presence is a vital part of your businesses image, it is by far the best sales person you can have – it does not take lunch breaks, toilet breaks, get sick or come into work hung over – it works constantly, connecting with people locally, nationally and internationally. How your website looks, works and the message it portrays is even more important when you consider that your website will be in most cases the first point of contact with future clients and customers.
Would you give your child some crayons and let them design you a new advertisement campaign. Of course not, it’s absurd. But it would save you money? Would this have a positive or negative impact on your business?
Unfortunately so many businesses approach web site design with a narrowed outlook, if they approached office planning the same way, you would find office workers sat on cardboard boxes in an unheated concrete slab with no natural light.
Take a look at the list we’ve put together, we think these are important considerations to make before you choose your web design company.
Does the web design company in question have a remarkable website?
Is the company’s website up to standard? If not, how can they help you, when they can’t even help themselves? The company’s website should be everything good about the company; it’s their chance to show off. The design should be sleek with built in features such blogs and twitter feeds. You should be massively impressed with the website design, if you’re not move onto the next one.
How good is the portfolio?
So they have a fantastic website themselves, but can they deliver to a set of requirements? This is a complete different ball game with tight deadlines and specific requirements handling clients soon becomes a difficult task.
Are you personally impressed with the websites? If you aren’t impressed with the website designs, then the chances are your website won’t be any better.
Do all the websites look the same? You don’t just want a regurgitated design. Make sure each website is individual and well designed for its specific target audience.
Have you visited the websites?
Most website designers display static images of website designs, you should view the website live. Visit the site and get a real feel for it. I strongly recommended you contact the site owner and ask how their own personal experience was.
If the website designs are creative, consistent and well planned you could be onto a winner. Keep in mind that a designer may be at the beginning of their career and could possibly possess raw talent, even though they’re lacking in the portfolio department.
Do they build websites with are fully validated?
This is a tricky one. Simply because so many websites are not validated, including some big company names and just recently Matt Cutts (Google) announced that W3C validation is not part of Google’s search engine ranking factor, although this could change. The truth is you don’t really to have validated website for it to be great; however it does portray professionalism, eases future maintenance and teaches good practice.
I personally checked the following websites:
bbc.co.uk – 24 errors and 24 warnings.
google.com – 39 errors, 2 warnings.
whitehouse.gov – 27 errors, 10 warnings.
facebook.com – 44 errors, 4 warnings.
myspace.com – 64 errors, 20 warnings.
dollopdesign.com – Zero (Passed).
sky.com – 194 errors, 119 warnings.
Visit http://validator.w3.org/ to check any web site to see if it passes the validation process.
Ask lots of questions and get to know the designer(s)
Ask questions. Interrogate them! You have the right to ask them questions and the web design company expects it. Dig deep into how the company works and I strongly recommend meeting up with them, ideally you should meet in relaxed atmosphere such as a coffee shop. Sometimes due to geographical reasons you may not be able to meet up, the questions you ask then become even more important, I’ve wrote some questions you should ask before hiring a web design company that I’ve not already mentioned.
1) Is website design their primary business?
You don’t want a graphic designer creating your website; the skills between web and print design are completely different.
2) How many people will be working on your website?
For smaller projects having just one person working on the site is sufficient, larger projects require a team of people not only to cope with the demands but more importantly to have a wider set of skills at your disposal.
3) What if I need to make changes to my website after completion?
Some companies charge for even the smallest of updates, make sure you’re not locked into any superfluous contracts. If you do require significant changes after completion, it’s very likely you will have to pay. If you just need some text changing most web design companies will be happy to do that free of charge – Some even provide training so you can do it yourself.
4) Is Search Engine Optimisation included?
Onsite optimisation is a must for all websites. Onsite SEO is optimising your website so that it will be search engine friendly. If nobody can find your website, what is the point?
5) How long will it take to design my website?
You should know exactly when the website will be complete, you can even arrange for specific targets so you can keep track of the websites progress.
6) Is hosting offered?
Find out if hosting is included in the web design package, you may have to arrange this yourself or pay extra to have hosting setup by the company.
7) Will the domain name be registered in my name?
If you don’t already have a domain name and the company arranges this for you make sure everything is in your name, you need to own it.
8) Any hidden costs?
Make sure you don’t have any recurring bills or nasty hidden extras.
To sum up
Research! Choose the right web design company for the right reasons, because they’re great web designers and are knowledgeable not because you have been won over by a sales person. Although price is an important factor try not to be swayed by this alone, because if you do go with “cheapest web designer” you will get just that, a cheap looking website, is that a true reflection of your business?