My own web designers, Perfect Arc, have produced me a couple of fabulous websites, with my B&B website winning gold in the Regional Enjoy Excellence in England Tourism Awards.
Here are Anna Wilde's, one of Perfect Arc directors, tips on how to choose a web designer.
Choosing a web designer
Don’t ask your next door neighbour/grandson/the girl down the road at art college
to design your site. Web design takes in a whole series of skills e.g
Usability and Accessibility
Technical – hosting, email, databases, content management
Unless your contact is a skilled freelancer they are unlikely to have the full range of skills required. Also bear in mind STICKABILITY – what will you do when this person disappears to backpack around
Do ask people you know for any recommendations
. Word of mouth is a good place to start and if you know someone who has had a good experience with a particular company or individual, start by asking them
Consider setting a budget
and asking the web designer what they could do for that amount. Be realistic! Say that you will want extra pages added later so the designer can factor this in. Remember that bigger companies will charge VAT which will make it more expensive for you if you aren’t VAT registered. On the other hand they are likely to be more professional.
Make a list of what’s essential and what’s nice to have and what’s optional
. Don’t forget domain names, email addresses and hosting. Draw out a family tree diagram of pages required which will help them to price the job. Then look for some examples of sites that you like (and don’t like) so you can show them the sort of thing you’re after. Remember to think about your target audiences whilst you are doing this – if you are aiming to attract older people, stick with something that’s classic and traditional.
Decide when you would like to have the site ready and make sure the designer knows this at the outset.
Most good web designers should be able to produce a small 4 – 6 page site in a month or two – providing you don’t keep changing your mind and they have all the words and photographs needed as soon as possible.
Look at the designer’s portfolio.
Does their style please you and fit with the image you want to convey? Do the links work? Are there spelling mistakes? If their own site looks scruffy, you can bet yours will look worse if they get their hands on it.
Search engine services
are usually separate to the actual design and build of the website, so expect to pay more for this. When your site is new you may have to wait for several months before you appear on Google, so don’t believe extravagant claims about getting instant listings on 500 search engines.
Now make some phone calls.
Outline your requirements and see if they suggest a meeting – most web companies will offer a free consultation and discussion of your needs. If they don’t, look elsewhere. They may be able to give an approximate cost over the phone. Try to get a few quotes to compare but remember that you often do get what you pay for. But also – remember that the person you choose doesn’t have to be in the same area – or even the same country – it’s perfectly possible to have a good job done by someone you never meet face to face.
Ask for a written proposal
outlining what will be done with clear costs and a list of what’s included. This will form the basis of a contract between you, so it’s useful to know what you are getting.
You’ll need to supply the designer with the words and photos for your site.
No one knows as much about your business as you, and therefore you are the right person to write the copy – don’t expect them to!