So now that you know why you need a website and what you need in a website… you need to decide who is going to design the site? Typically, there are a few options: an agency, a freelancer, friend/family, or you. Large agencies can do a lot more than just your website, but tend to be quite expensive. Freelancers will (or should) get to know you and your business and help you with more than just the design of the site. Friends and family may be cheaper, but let’s face it – it’s friends and family and we all know how that can work out. And… then we have you. Are you tech savvy? Do you have more time than money? This may be your answer (and possibly new career). The learning curve can vary depending on your ability and the platform you choose to use.
Things to have in mind when deciding on who should design your site:
- Budget – this alone may determine who will be doing the creating/maintaining of your site. As I mentioned, large agencies are expensive. Freelancers or small firms can be very helpful and quite reasonable. And if you have the desire or lack of funds to hire someone – you may find yourself learning to build websites.
- Site design and layout – It is very helpful to find some sites you like and don’t like. Even if you’re doing it yourself having examples and guidelines makes it easier. Also – and very important – you need to know why you like or dislike them. Just knowing you like something is only part of it – why do you like it?
- Colors, fonts, logos – Do you have a logo? The site should match or incorporate the colors from your logo to create a more unified experience. What font do you want? Font? Really? Yes. If you have a technical or scientific site you probably don’t want to use Griffy. Google fonts is a great place to see some examples.
- Do you plan to have a Newsletter – Mailchimp, Aweber and Constant Contact are some options for you. They have APIs to help connect to your site and get people added to your distribution lists.
- Do you take Payments – What payment processor works best for you – Square, Paypal, another processing company? How can you integrate this into your site? (You should have an SSL if you are handling payments and customer information)
- Who is going to update the site? Many developers offer maintenance plans to keep your site up to date, maintain backups, handle minor changes and so on. It can be well worth it, as hourly rates can be high.
- Is the site easy to update or will it require training? Will your developer hand you the keys and say “good luck” or can you get some training if you will be updating the site yourself?
- Who will be looking at, interpreting and acting on the web analytics? Ah yes – websites are more than just pretty pictures on your screen. Google analytics are the big player here. Do you know what the demographics of your visitors are? What are their interests? What browsers are they using and do some work better on certain pages? Where does your traffic come from? All this and more can be gleaned from looking at the analytics.
What to look for in a web dev
So you’ve decided to hire someone. Great! (You know VISKA does web design along with writing amusing articles, right?) Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a web designer.
- Do you like the other sites they have done? (Yes… know why or why not)
- Do the sites work and work well?
- Are their sites fast? Remember, Google likes sites that load fast across all devices.
- Does the site rank in Google? This is not always an indication of the web designer’s performance. Some do not handle SEO, others may just build the site and someone from the client company may be responsible for the content and how well it targets their audience and keywords.
- Are their sites easy to navigate and can you find what you’re looking for?
- Does the developer have examples of functionality they have implemented that match your needs? Just because you don’t see an example of what you want, does not necessarily mean they cannot create what you want.
- Will the developer meet with you? This is a great way to get to know the developer and if you like them. You may spend quite a bit of time conversing with them so be sure you get along well and can understand each other.
- Does the developer provide what you want/need? Do you need someone to work with graphics? Does he/she do that or have someone that does?
- Communication… this is HUGE. What is the level of responsiveness of the developer? If you expect someone to return your calls/emails in 8 hours, can they do that? Perhaps some sort of Service Level Agreement is required?
- Can he/she speak intelligently to each of these services and provide examples of when they did that kind of work?
By now you should have a good idea of who should be designing your site and what you should look for when searching for the right person/agency. Now… go forth and make it happen!