If you’re looking to take your business to the next step, a professionally designed website offers you that distinct edge over your competitors. A top-notch website draws potential customers in-and keeps them there. Even though the rise of social media has utterly transformed the marketing landscape, Facebook and Twitter can’t compensate for the lack of a quality website. Your website is the face of your business-the first impression potential customers gather about your company. A poorly designed website conveys low-quality products or services, so don’t cut corners by designing a website yourself if you don’t have the skills. Hiring a professional website designer to boost your company’s image (and bottom line) is a smart investment.
When choosing a professional website designer, take the following into consideration:
Hiring Someone Local
There are plenty of start-up web design companies around the world from which to choose, but hiring a local designer offers several advantages.
First, local web designers offer you a quicker response. Don’t underestimate the possibility of communication breakdown across time zones. Good local designers offer dependable, quick responses to a client’s questions. Prompt communication is extremely key to the creation of a great website.
And because they are in the area, local designers can forge relationships with their clients beyond emailing and phone calls. This builds a level of trust between designer and client that can’t easily be replicated by a designer and client thousands of miles apart. A local designer is more likely to care about the success of a client’s business and will offer better website support to further a client’s progress.
Local designers must hold themselves accountable to clients in order to stay in business. It’s easy to find out if a local designer is credible; less so for an overseas designer.
Finally, designers have more control over your site because they know Boise. They know Idaho. They’ll be much more effective at designing a website with local demographics and your client base in mind than a designer out of state or overseas will.
Check the Designer’s Portfolio
You don’t need to randomly choose a website designer when all good designers have their best work on display.
Make sure that they have a web portfolio. Not having one is cause for alarm-either a designer has little experience or doesn’t wish to show off the work he or she has done.
Look through each of the designs and note the designer’s range, preferences, and versatility. This way you can picture how your business might be portrayed on a web page.
Visit the websites-looks aren’t everything when it comes to web design. Get a feel for the interface and how the web pages flow from one to the other. These are vital to user experience-customers that can’t figure out how to navigate a web page will quickly give up before reaching the intended page.
Call the businesses and ask how business is going since the website went live. They’ll tell you if they’re satisfied with the return on their investment based on the metrics of the website’s performance.
What framework does a designer use for websites?
There are a number of different frameworks that designers implement-learn which will best fit your needs.
Do they use a content management system (CMS)? A CMS allows publishing, editing, and modifying content through a central administrative tool. This facilitates collaboration and improves communication between users, allows data sharing and storage, and simplifies report writing.
Can users manage the page without understanding code? This allows clients to participate in the development and management of the website and helps them shape their vision for their business. As long as the CMS isn’t too technically difficult to understand, clients gain satisfaction from playing a role in the design of their website.
Does the designer provide training? Web design and code are hardly intuitive to the lay person, but a good designer will introduce a client to the basics of CMS so the he or she can independently manage their website.
Website design isn’t just about writing code-a good designer will include a range of services beyond technical skill.
Do they include content writing? While clients know what their business is about, they might not know how best to package their ideas into a web-friendly format. This is where content writers come in. Good copy in any medium can make or break a business, so providing a good content writer can save a client a lot of work.
Is hosting available? A web hosting service is what allows a business to make its website accessible on the Internet. Web hosts provide data space and connectivity to a varying degree. If a web designer provides hosting to clients as an option, this can save clients from the unforeseen costs of using a random host with little data space and low connectivity, which both acutely affect user experience.
Do they provide SEO? Search engine optimization is the secret to drawing more website traffic. SEO terms maximize a website’s hits by targeting specific keywords and search terms. A good web designer with an understanding of SEO will provide this service to clients, who may not understand SEO.
Where do the images come from? Any designer should follow copyright regulations on photos and images by using free public images or purchasing good stock photography. Resources like Google Images, Microsoft Office Image Gallery and copying another website’s images are just such cases of copyright infringement. Designers that take legal shortcuts and use trademarked images can create a litany of trouble for a business including fines of over $500,000.
Can they make mobile websites? With more and more people using smart phones to check the internet, the ability to create mobile websites can vastly broaden a company’s website reach. Many web designers don’t even know where to start with making a mobile-compatible version of a website. This can seriously limit your businesses growth over time as more and more people step away from their computer and use their smartphone and table devices to perform searches online for businesses and websites. A good web designer will be able to make your website fit a mobile device’s smaller screen and offer relevant mobile options such as click-to-call ability, coupons, and locations map. A mobile-compatible website design alone can separate you from your competition and give you the ability to dominate an entire marketing platform in your industry.
Website scalability-can it grow cost-effectively? As a business grows, the website may need to be enlarged in order to accommodate growth. Scalability is the ability of a system to increase in order to meet the needs of the business. A good designer will be able to implement a plan for website growth.
The next step for you
A good website designer stays on top of current techniques and methods of online marketing. Their job is to provide you with a platform for long-term growth of your company. Investing now in a professional web designer will not only save you money in the long run but also give you the ability to start increasing your profits immediately. The return-on-investment for hiring a great website designer is one of the highest in marketing available today.
About The Author: Justin Throngard is the owner and principal web developer for Simple CMS Design, a Boise Idaho based Joomla! web design firm that specializes in profitable small business website design.