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First Webs, Inc.

Rockford; Chicago; the World


Web Designers; Selecting One for Your Site

Selecting a web designer is a key decision in going online or improving your online presence.  Selecting the wrong web designer can spell disaster from "day one".  But how does a business owner know how to choose a web designer that is a good fit for his/her firm?

First Webs, Inc. hopes the following lists help you determine your web site needs and assists you in selecting a web designer. We serve the Rockford and Chicago area with web site design, search engine optimization, and Internet marketing.

Define Your Needs

  • Review why you must have a well developed business web site.  Do you generally agree?

  • Define what your web site is to accomplish.  Challenge yourself as to how it fits into your overall marketing plan?  Your overall business plan?  Write out your Internet Marketing plan, and learn why Internet Marketing works.

  • Who is your target market or markets?  How strong or weak is the niche?

  • Will your site require traffic generation?  How much traffic is needed, and for what targeted phrases?  Note:  If your site does not require traffic, then possibly your need for a web site is in question. 

  • Who are your competitors?  Which of your competitors  have a good Internet presence?  Have a person skilled in SEO run a site strength analysis on your competitors.  Compare it to your site strength, if you already have a web site.

  • How much of a consideration is "branding" in promoting your business and your online presence?

  • Where do you now spend time daily on repetitive tasks?  Can some of these processes be improved, shortened, or eliminated by going online.  Use the services of an Internet Consultant to evaluate what might be done for your particular situation.

  • Subscribe to several Internet newsletters.  Read them and understand how others are benefiting from using the Internet.

Selecting a Web Design Firm; General Comments

Today there a many choices when it comes to web design.  Promoters of site builders will tell you it is easy and you can do everything yourself.  Most likely you can!  That is if you've got the time to invest to learn the site builder tools, become knowledgeable about SEO, and learn enough about CSS/HTML to get by.

Should you wish to develop your own site, consult the How *Not* To Design A Webpage! checklist on this site.  Read and understand the Web Site Design Tips page.

If you're working with a marketing agency or a graphics design firm, be aware than many firms don't have the in-house skills to complete all phases of a good business site. 

A graphics firm my not know HTML, and may not understand CSS.  It's unlikely they would have Internet Marketing or SEO experience.  A marketing agency may give you incredible content and appeal, but may not understand the process of getting a site ranked for SEO, or set up for online advertising.  Understand that they may subcontract work, and you will be levels removed from the person working on your project.

An independent freelance developer on eLance or similar talent bank may have the skills, but it may be difficult to determine that up-front.  Free lance developers may not have the relationships with hosting firms, and web platform developers to maintain and keep your web site competitive.

Your cousin, your uncle's nephew, or a college student may know HTML and graphics.  However, it is unlikely they could bring the breadth and depth of experience about the Internet that a skilled Internet Consultant would bring to your business.  The cheapest web design solution may ultimately be the most expensive  because your site simply "will not produce for your business".

Questions to Ask in Selecting a Web Designer

  • Question the background of the web designer.  Is he/she industry certified? Does he/she understand HTML, or is he/she limited by what Dreamweaver and FrontPage can do.  How many years does he/she have.

  • Question the business background of the web designer writing the content pages.  Do he/she have a business orientation?  Can he/she identify with your firm's challenges?

  • Meet with the designer.  While a local presence is not absolutely necessary, it is still the best way to evaluate each other.

  • Does the web designer have resources to bring to your site design, if needed.  Is he/she part of a larger design/development firm that can assist in difficult tasks.

  • Review the web designer's portfolio.  What kind of sites have been designed.  However, bear in mind that with today's content management systems and WYSIWYG editors, the sites appearance may not truly reflect the web designers skill set.  Customers change web sites on their own, and the web designer may not have been a party to changes after site launch.

  • Does the web designer understand SEO and Internet marketing?  Does he/she know the fundamentals of titles, descriptions, linking, backlinking, and blogging.  If not, are those services within the web designer's reach through other business relationships.

  • If SEO is needed on your site, does the web designer understand the pros-and-cons of search?  Will you be listed in local search directorys?

  • Can the web site perform keyword research into the keywords that you want on your pages.  Does he/she understand the process?  What tools does he/she use to perform keyword research?

  • Has the web designer published client case studies on his/her site?  If none published, ask what case studies he/she can share privately.

  • What level of service and support will be offered after launch?  The web designer should be open to a range of services from "pay for additional services" to "monthly consulting relationships via retainer".  Does the web designer offer customer support, live chat, phone support, or email support.

  • Learn enough about the Internet and web design to compare the services of web designers.  Often times it is difficult for a business owner to compare one proposal against the next.  Educating oneself about basic web design services can help.  If you, as the business owner, have more than one favorable proposal, don't be afraid to sit down with each web designer and ask questions about the proposal they submitted.


129 So. Phelps Ave., Ste 908

Rockford, IL 61108


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