Web designers and developers come in all shapes and sizes – from large specialist companies, to in-agency teams and bedroom techies. Equally as diverse are the websites they create and the prices they charge. For many businesses their website is one of the biggest marketing investments they make, and yet making the wrong decision about who will bring their online vision to life is all too easy.
So before making that critical decision, here are some things you might like to consider:
Do you like them?
It’s important that you really get along with your web designer/developer after all, you will be working very closely with them and they will be translating your brand into your website. It’s essential that you can communicate well and even have some fun while you do it! If you feel confused, patronised or bamboozled by your prospective web designer, then just walk away.
Do you like their work?
Designers and developers all have ‘signatures’ and will build things a certain way – we’re all different. So take a look at what they’ve done before and see if their style suits you and your business. It’s not a reflection on their work, just an acknowledgement that different people like different things.
What do people say about them?
Have a chat with people they have worked with – Were they easy to contact? Did they speak in technical gobbledegook? Building your website is a big deal, do your homework and make sure you’re happy handing a big piece of work over to them.
How much does it really cost?
We’ve met clients who find that although their site was cheap to set up, the cost to make changes means that the lifetime cost is significantly more than they expected. Equally people have paid extra for a content managed system, and then never changed the site. Be clear about what you need and check you aren’t locked in to unexpected costs.
With a properly scoped web project your web designer should be able to give you a fixed quote for the design and build. Be extremely wary of 'time and materials' design quotes. It's often better to pay for a day of time up front for the designer to scope the project properly - that way, the web design team has time to think about the implications of each step of the build and there should be no hidden costs. If your designer isn't keen to do this then you should definitely walk away.
Do they speak the same language?
Once the site is live, you're bound to want a few changes as it beds in and you see how people are using it. These will rightly cost you a little extra as and when they're needed. But, now more than ever it is essential that you have chosen a web designer you can converse with effectively. If you find your web designer difficult to communicate with then making changes to the site is going to be a drain on your energy as well as your purse as their interpretations of your instructions could be wide of the mark. Repeated rebuilding of the same tweak will can begin to ratchet up the costs.
Do they speak?
If emails take a long time to get replied to, or if your calls are left non-answered or worse, non returned. Just walk away. How ever much you want to use the designer based on his/her previous work, if they can't get in touch, they won't finish the job.
Can you find their work?
Lots of web developers talk about ‘SEO-ing websites’, but check that they are following current good practice. Do some searches on Google to see if their websites rank for generic phrases, not just the client's name. There could be lots of reasons why they don’t, the important thing is knowing your web designer understands why this is and can advise (or knows someone who can) on options on how to drive traffic to the site.
Are they detail orientated?
Almost everyone falls out of love with their web design team at some point during the end of the project. Even if you’ve spent a lot of time and money upfront sorting out every last detail, the final stretch of any project is hard because there are so many small details that need to be sorted out. If you like and trust your web designer this last stretch is so much easier, even better if your web designer is in control of the detail and is pushing you to make decisions rather than the other way round. Details might include Google Analytics tracking code, 301 redirects and xml sitemaps. It’s not glamorous design stuff, but is vital for the performance of your site long term.
If you need help de-coding your web designer or developer, get in contact we can help. Or we’d always recommend JSB Design - our most trusted and easy to work with web developers, they work with start ups to major banks and are about as honest and hardworking as the little engine that could – contact Kathryn, who helped to pull together this article.