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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.