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How to Pick a Web Designer

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First, we have to admit, it is just a little ironic that you’re reading about how to find a web designer, on an Alaskan web designer’s site? Don’t worry, the irony is not lost on us.

But finding the right designer is important for both you and the designer. You want to make sure the designer has the necessary skills. But you also want to make sure it is a good fit for your business and goals.

There are many different types of websites (e-commerce, blogs, tourism, galleries, etc.) and you probably already have a good idea about what you need. However, finding a web designer who can create a site around your vision can be challenging.

So let’s make your search easier. Here are some tips to help you find the best designer for your new website.

Check Their Portfolio

A web designer’s portfolio is a window into their skill and expertise. Every designer will have a collection of past works to display.

The main reason you need to check a designer’s portfolio carefully is to see if they have the creative flair to match your vision.

Web design is a creative process, but it’s also highly technical. It’s important to find someone who can combine the two and create something fabulous that also technically functional as well.

As you’re browsing the portfolio, consider if each design truly captures the essence of the business. If the websites are unique in design and features, then it’s a good indication the web designer has the skills to help you realize your vision.

What Services Do They Offer?

A web site can be many things. Some businesses need a simple website to advertise their business; others need to manage inventory and take payments.

Regardless of your site’s purpose, there are things all sites will need. So it is a good idea to see if your design can accommodate the following needs.

Do they offer a web hosting service?
If they don’t have hosting included in the service, then you will have to find your own, which will take some time to research and set up.

What about software updates and backups?
The modern website is made with software that is continually being updated (much like your phone or computer operating system). Does the designer have a plan to keep your site up to date as well as a way to back up the site… just in case?

Do they include domain purchase?
The domain is the name of your website, such as “youramazingbusiness.com.” Some site designers will sort this out for you, but some will expect you to register your domain yourself.

Can they help you grow?
Some designers strictly make websites. Others have services that will grow with your business. You may not need these right way, but it’s good to know it’s there when you need it. These services can include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Digital Marketing
  • Content Creation (including video and photography)
  • Lead generation abilities
  • Training and Consultation

If you’re new to owning a web presence, then it’s a good idea to get all the help you can. A good web designer won’t just help you launch a website. They will guide you into the digital world and help you grow and secure an online presence.

Do They Provide Support?

Support is a big one. Websites are made with software that is constantly being updated. And during this process, things can go wrong.

It is important to have a designer who will be there when your site goes down or when something on your site isn’t working correctly.

So check with the designer about their support packages. How do you get a hold of them when you need them? You don’t want to be left alone when your site needs fixing.

Read their Reviews and Testimonials

Every business will have a few glowing testimonials scattered around their website. Naturally, these will be heavily biased, and only the best reviews will make it onto the site.

However, if you head over to Google and Facebook, you’ll see reviews which can give you a wider field of view.

Google and Facebook reviews will give you a more unbiased opinion of the designer. Of course, you can expect a few bad reviews – nobody can make everybody happy all the time. But, read through what is there. This will give you an idea of not just the quality of work, but how the designer is to work with in general.

What’s Their Experience?

You wouldn’t get your car serviced by the apprentice, so why would you hand over your web development to someone who has barely dipped their toes into the online world.

With some of the free site builders around today, it’s quite easy to knock up a website that looks good at first glance. However, spend five minutes using the site, and you soon see that it’s held together with broken code and poorly optimized images.

Experienced developers know how to tune a website so it runs well, looks good and is easy to use.

Ask your developer about their qualifications, where did they get them, and how long have they been in business?

Give them a Call

Get on the phone and chat with the designer. There’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth during the development phase, and you want to know that the communication channels aren’t going to be littered with confusion.

If your developer can explain the technical side of things in a way you can understand, then that’s a good start. During that call ask yourself:

  • Do they ask questions about your business and offer ideas on improving your online presence?
  • Do they seem pushy? Do you get the sense that they are just after your credit card details?
  • Do they listen to your needs and wants or are they doing most of the talking?
  • Are they excited about your project?

Ask for an Estimate

Once you have talked about your ideas for your website, you will want to get an estimate of the costs. The sheer versatility of web technologies means that every website cost different.

A basic five-page site is going to be a lot more budget friendly than an e-commerce site hosting a hundred products.

A designer should be prepared to give you not just an estimate of costs, but an explanation of those costs as well.

Be Prepared to Reveal Your Budget

As we hinted at above, the more complex your website, the more time and technology needed to develop it. This, of course, means a higher cost.

Be prepared to give your developer your budget so they can tell you if your goals are achievable. If you’re asking for a complex website and are budgeting $1,000, then you can probably expect a few things to be cut back or left out.

Think of it like buying a car. You may want four-wheel drive, heated seats, Wi-Fi, auto-start, a sunroof, surround sound speakers, an alarm system and a five-year warranty. But if this doesn’t fit your budget, then some things will need to be cut back.

It’s the same with your website. The more features and functionality you require, the more you will have to budget. A web designer should be able to tell what features need to get scaled back if your budget can’t accommodate it.

A Website is an Investment in Your Business

Your website says a lot about your business. If it is hard to use, put together poorly and looks bad, then this will reflect negatively on your business. So, it’s important not to cut corners to save a couple of hundred bucks.

Get the job done right the first time. Picking the right designer is the first step to getting a site that will help your business grow and succeed. If you are interested in more information on web design just contact us.