An effective website should drive sales and move the needle of interest for your business. Not every website is effective however, and the difference often hinges on your choice of a website designer. Whether you are considering your first web site, or preparing to revamp and re-launch of an existing site, here are seven key questions that can help you select the right website designer or web design firm:
1. Does the website designer understand and clearly articulate the differences between print design and interactive applications?
Sure, similarities do exist. But, while print is static, web graphics must work interactively on different browsers with disparate characteristics for display. Internet Explorer for instance, displays differently than AOL. Choose a designer with proven success in interactive web designs as well as success in print.
2. Is the designer experienced?
Ask about other sites the designer has developed. Visit them all. Is the work visually appealing? Is it technologically interesting with the navigation features you’re looking for? Is the navigation easy? Do the look and feel of the site convey high quality? Do the websites create a unique visual identity for the business or organization? Are you treated to interesting, custom graphics or “stock” clips and photos? Is the functionality smooth? A well designed website delivers a positive, enjoyable experience for visitors with graphics that load quickly and still look impressive, and navigation that presents the information in a logical, easy to access manner.
3. Does the designer focus more on aesthetics than on problem solving for your business goals?
Keep in mind, a website must drive sales. Does the designer understand your goals and the key messages you want to communicate? Ask prospective designers to explain the objective for sites they’ve designed. Explaining how each solution uniquely fits the client’s needs will reveal important information about how that designer will approach your project. Be certain the designer has a firm grasp of your vision.
4. Does the design firm have a solid understanding of the principles of e-business?
People rarely stroll through a commercial website at a leisurely pace. They come, they scan for what they want, and leave. To be effective a site must be supremely efficient. Good, clear, intuitive navigation is crucial for a positive experience. Key messages must leap off the page. Text must be concise, crystal clear and compelling. Every graphic must work to support the key messages. In short, nothing on a website can be gratuitous. Everything must have a purpose.
5. Does the designer provide personalized service?
Access is important. Will the designer be available for follow-up? Support? Long-term maintenance? A good firm will offer you technical support and be on hand to correct any tech problems as needed and update the content as required.
6. Does the firm offer skills in communications and in technology as well as design?
Designing a successful website requires the ability to take complex or disparate bits of information and develop a clear and logical hierarchy that flows with smoothness and clarity. This requires a talent for communication and technology, as well as graphic design. Many designers have a proficiency in graphics, but lack the companion skills necessary to develop a website that effectively supports the goals and objectives of business. Pages in a website can be viewed in any order. The design of your site, must give your visitor an intuitive sense of where they are-and why–to keep their attention. Only if messages flow through the site smoothly and efficiently, can you capture the customer-and the sale.
7. Is there chemistry and rapport between you and the designer?
Chances are, the design firm you select will not only create your site, but will also host it and help you market it, as well as update and maintain the content. Rapport is important. Look for designers and firms that feel comfortable and compatible. You’ll be working closely together on planning and implementation, hosting and follow-up.
Your website should generate more money, or save more money, than it costs to develop and implement. Good design is an investment that can increase revenues and broaden your sphere of potential clients. Select a design partner that displays a proven track record for excellent graphic design, good technical and marketing communication skills, and a clear understanding of ROI.
Recommended Books on Hring a Website Designer
- The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Volume 3: Inspiration from Today’s Best Web Design Trends, Themes and Styles
- The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Vol. 2: More of the Best Themes, Trends and Styles in Website Design
- The Web Designer’s Idea Book: The Ultimate Guide To Themes, Trends & Styles In Website Design (Web Designer’s Idea Book: The Latest Themes, Trends & Styles in Website Design)
- The Web Designer’s 101 Most Important Decisions: Professional Secrets for a Winning Website
- Website Design and Development: 100 Questions to Ask Before Building a Website
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