Are you thinking about creating a new website for your business? You might consider building a website yourself, especially if your business is small and your budget is limited. However, once you reach a point where you want to invest in important marketing tools like a website, you might consider hiring a professional to create or redesign your website. There are a lot of people building websites these days. It can seem overwhelming to know how choose the right web designer for your business.
A Website Is An Important Marketing Tool
Running a business involves expenses and investments in order to help the business grow and succeed. A website can be a very effective piece of your marketing plan. Even a simple “brochure” website can promote your brand, collect leads and create engagement. Once you commit to making your website help you meet your goals, you should hire a professional to help.
How To Choose A Web Designer For Your Project
The first step in hiring an agency is finding a good fit.
- List your goals for your website to define your requirements.
Look at other websites to see what your competition is doing and get ideas. This will help identify the type of professional you will look for. If you need an e-commerce website where you are selling products online, look for agencies that specialize in e-commerce.
- Define your budget.
Determine how much you are willing to spend. If you are going shopping for a new house, your real estate agent will want to know your budget to identify homes you can afford. The same applies for a website. There are freelancers who will build a website for $1000 or less, and there are large firms that charge $20K or more. Most professional agencies will charge $3,000 or more for a website.
- Ask for referrals and read reviews.
Your friends and colleagues in your network are a good source of information for finding contractors. If you see a website you like, ask them who built their website and if they were happy with the agency/developer. If want to choose a web designer who is local, you can look on Google or Yelp, read reviews and look at portfolios. Another source is hosting companies, like GoDaddy, who often have a directory of recommended developers. LinkedIn can also be a good resource for finding an agency who may specialize in your business or website category.
Questions To Ask When Hiring A Web Designer
Once you have a list of designers and agencies to contact, be sure to check out their website, portfolio and reviews. You may find that some names on your list are not a good fit based on their stated fees, availability or a general feeling you get from their work that doesn’t feel right for you.
Here are some important questions to ask to help choose a web designer that is a good fit for your project:
- How long have you been in business?
Someone new to website development likely charges less than someone with a lot of experience. If you have a tight budget and a simple website, you might consider working with someone who displays some talent and seems easy to work with, but may not have a large portfolio. In general, however, it is better to work with someone who has a lot of relevant experience to ensure your investment produces an effective website that will help meet your business goals. This will likely cost more in the short run in order to have a longer lasting and more impactful site.
- How many people are on your team?
Many website professionals are one-person shops. There are benefits to this, in that the cost is usually lower. Keep in mind that they may be good at everything they do, but not great at any one thing. Your project may require a higher level of design, which would be best served by a team that has a super-skilled designer.
- How many projects do you work on at a time?
Any agency that takes on too many projects at once, without enough staff to handle the workload, may result in your project falling behind and to the bottom of the pile.
- What is your process?
In our experience a website project is the most successful when a process is followed. This helps ensure things happen on time, as expected and things do not fall through the cracks. There are lots of project management systems and systems to help an agency manage the process. An agency that cares about their process, and likes to tell you about it, likely values this and will be easy to work with.
- What software/platform do you use to build websites and why?
Make sure the website will be something that you can own and edit easily.
- What is your preferred method of communication?
Some agencies require their clients to use a project management system. If you are not willing to learn and use a new system this might not be a good fit for you.
- What are ongoing costs and commitments after launch?
All websites need some care and attention after launch. Software updates may be necessary, monitoring of uptime, performance, website traffic are all things you should be aware of. Your hosting plan needs to be renewed, and there may be other annual software licenses to pay for as well. These costs add up, so it is a good idea to ask up front. Many agencies offer maintenance and support plans which may include some of these tasks, as well as time for making edits and providing support after launch.
Trust Your Gut
After doing your research and asking good questions, when you finally choose a web designer, check your “gut instinct.” You should have a general good feeling about the person or agency you hire. A good working relationship is as important as qualifications. Choose someone who will be nice to work with!
Follow these suggestions to help you choose a web designer. Once you have made a decision to hire a professional to make or refresh your website, be sure to have a contract that outlines the scope of the project, the timeframe and your payment commitments. Clearly specifying the details up front will avoid miisunderstandings and help ensure you end up with a website that you love and that was a pleasure to create!