How to find the right designer for you
As a web designer/developer that markets professionally created branding products I wanted to discuss today the importance of choosing a designer that will become an asset to your business. With social media promotions coming a dime a dozen these days it’s hard to know which designers are going to give you a quality product, a properly designed website that compliments your brand and products, because if you don’t have those things you’re at a disadvantage, compared to your competition.
If your competition implemented a strong, search engine friendly CMS, for example and consistently adds new, relevant content which builds links and traffic from the social web, blogs and other sites you can throw all the promotions and ads in the world at your dated design and you’ll never see it grow.
Now, there are plenty of designers that understand clean, effective and beautiful website design and develop it correctly, but I wanted to share with you a few things to look for when choosing a designer.
1) Check out some of the other sites the designer has created
All creative designers have a unique style to them and certain elements common to websites they develop. Browse through the sample sites on their website portfolio and be sure their style is in line with how you view your brand.
2) Talk with the designer, tell him/her what your needs are
A good designer will be completely honest with you and be happy to tell you exactly his/her capabilities. The sign of a great designer is one that will ask what your current website is, talk to you about your company and its goals and really get to know you. This is above and beyond what separates the good from the great.
3) Offer additional services for SEO.
It is their job to set you up with the tools so that your site can potentially get to the front of Google and your site is coded properly with SEO in mind. Any designer who promises to get you on page one up front for a popular term, I would be extremely weary of. However, most designers/developers do have SEO packages that will help get you there and if done right will boost your business in Google. However it’s also your job to ensure that you’re adding fresh content regularly to keep that SEO going. We offer SEO services – just contact us for a quote!
4) Don’t hire a design agency who will charge you even a cent to make minor tweaks to copy on your website
Every great website is a work in progress. There is no such thing as a finished product in this space, all companies grow, change and update. The tools exist now so that someone internally at your organisation can easily make desired changes and additions to a website. Following the steps I have listed above, a good designer will spend some time (or at least give you documents) on how to work your CMS. It’s easy with most modern ones and something you can learn without much effort. If you are paying money to make minor text tweaks to your .com after everything has been setup, you’re being ripped off.
5) Hire a designer who blogs, designs and uses the web in their free time
I may be biased in saying this, but these are the type of people with true passion for the web and for what they’re doing. The result you’ll get will be better when you work with someone who spends a great deal of their life on the web. They simply understand this space and understand usability better.
6) Don’t hire a designer who creates sites in all Flash
We’ve all heard the news that Google can search Flash now. I still don’t like it, most people using the web dislike it as well. It increases load time (one of the most important things for your website is quick load time), doesn’t work on all browsers (especially mobile) and Flash sites generally aren’t very usable or clean.
7) Hire a designer who is recommended/referred by someone who is web-savvy
There is a reason I only link to certain designers on my social media. I either have worked with them in creating successful websites or I have been incredibly impressed by their work. The best designers are in high demand due to strong referrals for being at the edge and creating the very best web sites in the world. Finding a web designer, through a referral by someone you trust is probably the best way to find the right one for you.
Again, having proper design is just the first step. It is a solid commitment to dominate Google and to get your site a decent amount of steady traffic. It is an ongoing process from your team for a time long after your designer finishes their work before you’ll see big results.
8) Make sure they’ll be there for you in 5 years’ time
This is the most common problem I hear from new clients. They went to someone that was cheap, someone they knew, and/or a family member of a friend that was trying to make some cash on the side at the time. Maybe they even tried outsourcing it overseas to get a deal. Either way, it’s a year later and they can’t get in touch with the developer and have no access to anything they paid for. Do yourself a favour and work with an established, financially-stable company that wants to build a lasting, long-term relationship with your business.
9) They know responsive design
Responsive design is not a fad. It’s simply the best way to design a website these days. Even Google thinks so. If a web design agency isn’t well-versed in responsive design or suggests a separate mobile website is always better, then they’re probably not right for you. While there are some cases where a separate mobile site might have some advantages, responsive design is generally the preferred solution. As mobile and tablet usage continue to grow you need to be sure your business is optimised for every device. The right designer will get you there.
10) They’ve worked at both local and national levels
Whether you’re a national brand or a local business, you need a web design agency that knows both. If your designer has only worked with local businesses, then there’s a good chance your new website won’t be designed for big success. The more audiences your designer knows, the better odds your website will be able to help you reach your business goals. You need a designer who can think both big and small.
11) They’re not dirt cheap
Your website is one of the most vital pieces of your business. This is not an area where you can afford to cut corners. When a web design company tells you, they’ll build a custom website for $1000, they really mean they’ll drag and drop your text and logo into a $99 WordPress theme that 12,000 other websites use. If you want a website that’s going to work for your business, you must be willing to invest in it. A great website will yield a high return on investment. A bad website will result in a stagnant business.
And let me just add one last thing. If you receive a quote from a designer and it’s not what you were expecting, please email them back and let them know! They aren’t going to be aware of a potential issue (and likely offer a solution) if you don’t communicate with them.