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Choosing your Website Designer

A Users Guide to choosing the best web design company for your business

It seems that there are thousands of website design companies that are keen to provide you with a website which will improve your business – How can you be sure that you choose the right one? Clearly they will need to understand your business and make sure that your site is highly visible to the search engines and consequently to potential customers.

Here is a quick help guide to assist you in your choice.

Check out your web design companies website

The first thing you should look at is the web design companies own website, is the site easy to navigate? Does it tell you enough to convince you? Is the site current and up to date or is the information dated?

Have a look at their portfolio to see what they have done recently. Do any of the sites they have created look anything like the type of site you would like designed for your company?
Your website designer needs to know how to get you found in the search engines

If your selected website design company does not rank on the first page of the search engines then you should dismiss them right away – If they cannot optimise their own website properly, what chance have they of obtaining a high ranking for you? Try a search for something like “Business Websites [the companies city]”or “web design [the companies city]” or “Business Website Design [The companies city] If they are on the first page of results then they probably know what they are doing when it comes to SEO

Tell Your Web Designer What You Need

Make sure that your web designer understands your needs, goals and objectives

Knowing exactly what you need for your site is extremely important. If you don’t know what you want from the beginning, you and your web designer can both get confused and frustrated – and the project is almost guaranteed to run over time and possibly over budget. If you do not have a clear vision of what you need then ask your web designer for ideas – he should be able to advise you on what works best for your situation.

A lot of elements go into any website. Your web designer needs to know everything you want to include in yours so he can accurately scope and price your project.
What’s the main goal of your site?

Let the designer know what you are trying to achieve. What message are you trying to project , and what is the purpose of your site? You need to know what success looks like so put a figure or target on your website. A few examples for you:

  • Achieve £20,000 in sales in the next year
  • Obtain 1000 enquiries via the website over the next 18 months
  • Increase visitor figures to 10,000 per month within the first year

Depending on what your goals are this may mean that your web designer will have to look at different methods of marketing your website – this could mean higher costs so you need to balance this against the potential returns

If you don’t know where you are going then how do you know when you have arrived?

Having set clear goals for your website you need to measure the performance of your site against any targets set. Make sure that your website designer sets up an appropriate website performance analysis package and you are trained regarding how to interpret and how to constantly improve the results from your website

What kind of site do you need?

There are plenty of different kinds of sites out there: e-commerce sites for selling products; portfolio sites for photographers and artists; informational sites with articles or blog posts…and many more.
Web designers specialise in all kinds of different sites. Some designers stick to specific kinds of sites, so find one who’s good at the kind of site you need. Make sure you describe your requirements to any potential web designer you talk to.

Is your website going to sell something?

If you intend selling your products online you need to let your website designer know how many products you are looking to sell and also if you have different sizes/flavours/colours etc of certain products. Can you obtain images and descriptions in electronic format for each product You need to tell your web designer what kinds of details you’ll want on each page.Will you be adding products on an ongoing basis? Are you happy to make the additions or is that something you would prefer your web designer to do. You can save a lot of money by doing this yourself, however you must be willing to learn how to and it should be easy to make the additions. Ensure that you discuss this – especially If you are on a budget.
How do you take payments from your website

Payment is a critical part of any e-commerce website. How will the payments be handled? Are you going to use PayPal, or some other kind of software? some payment methods (called payment gateways) require a fixed monthly fee and some take a higher percentage from each transaction. Your website designer needs to know what method you would like to use as this may add significantly to the cost of your website. Discuss with your designer what’s right for your budget,

What about multimedia?

Do you want to include any kind of audio, video, or interactive content on your website, you need to explain very clearly what it’s for and what it should do. Although this may seem like a good idea there are situations where this type of rich media will have negative effects on your website (imagine if a potential customer accesses your website from their place of work and the site blasts out a load audio message or tune – how embarrassing could this be – would they return to your website? probably not! Think about your target market and what the experience should be like for your website visitors. Remember that creating any kind of interactive experience will take more time and cost more money.

Do you need any interactive or social elements on your website?

Do you need contact forms, guest books, live chat, blogs, order forms, message boards, customer forums to make your site more interactive and encourage visitors to participate? If so then these elements will need to be added to the initial design and will invariably cost more.

Bear in mind if you create a blog on your site, you will need to manage this and frequently update it to keep the content current. If you use twitter or facebook you may want to look at utilising the content from these sites to save you from duplicating your efforts – Blogs and message boards can be integrated with other websites (facebook, twitter etc) so that they appear as part of your site — ask your web designer for examples of these so you can see if they are suitable for you.

Think about updating your website.

One thing is certain – At some point in the future you will want to change some of the content on your website. It may be some text that you need updated, add a new product or service, update your phone number, add a new page or article.

You need to decide up front if you are prepared to make simple changes yourself or to pay your web designer to make the changes for you. Your answer will determine whether or not you need a simple content management system (CMS) that you can update yourself or something more complicated that requires a developer to create or even manage for you.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be well on your way to making sure that your new website is perfect for your business!

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