So many times I have heard people say “My nephew knows all about computers and can do a website for my business.” or “Our neighbors daughter just took an HTML course in college and can do our website.” Would you hire someone who took a course in small engine repair to rebuild the engine in your car? Of course not! You would hire someone with experience, training, and the proper tools to get the job done right, the first time.
The same should hold true when deciding who will design and market your website. It is true that with a basic HTML course anyone can design a website. But not just any one can create a website that will present the image that your company is professional, trustworthy, reliable, and someone to do business with. But even beyond the basic design of the website you need someone to market the site, so people will find it, and someone you can rely on to be there when the site needs updating.
Ask these questions when interviewing a website design firm:
- Visit websites that they have designed. Ask people you know to visit those sites and give you their opinions. Would you buy from the company whose website you are looking at?
- Ask the Web designer for some of their ideas as to how they will lay out the site, what graphics and colors they will use. Are you able to give your input or will they just design a site and say “here it is…money please”.
- If you are thinking of an e-commerce site (on-line store) ask the designer the URL of other stores they have created. Do you like the way it is laid out? Is it easy for the visitor to make a purchase?
- Get the names and phone numbers from at least three of the Web designers clients. Call them and ask if they would hire the person to work on another project.
- Do they have a contract that outlines the agreement, what they agree to do and what your responsibilities are? Get everything in writing. What will be the final cost and when are payments due? How long will the whole process take from gathering the information till you see your first proof? How long will it take to make the changes from the proof? How many proofs are you allowed to make changes on before there are additional costs?
- Will the site be submitted to search engines? If so, get a list of what search engines and make sure they are ones you have heard of. How often will the site be resubmitted? Will you receive a report showing that the site has been submitted and how it is ranking? Are there other on-line marketing solutions they offer? What are they and what are the costs?
The main thing is do your homework. You want to find a designer who will create a site that positively reflects your business and that also brings in business.