It’s obvious, a cheap website isn’t the best way to make money or spread a message. Creating a brand identity online will take time and effort. Having a professional design your website will only make the transition and process easier and save you money in the short and long term.
Identify the Fake Web Designers
With the prolific and needed growth of content management systems (CMS) we’ve seen a new breed of fake web designers. Their extent of knowledge is in the use of templates and themes, changing color schemes, images and font. While this will save you money initially it will haunt you when problems arise. They won’t have the tools ready when you need a solution. Problems will arise, browsers change the way they view code language, it’s frustrating but that’s life. You may end up having to bring in another individual or company to correct issues when they arise all the while costing you money and time.
Fake web designers will have trouble with the following:
- Create changes to layout (ie moving location of sidebar, additional sidebars, creating drop-down menus, moving or adding elements within the header such as search boxes and opt-in forms, creating custom page templates such as a unique layout for specific pages within the site, control width depending on theme)
- Troubleshoot cross-browser compatibility.
- Troubleshoot PHP errors (site functionality)
- Making changes to accompany your vision.
The bottom line: the use of a CMS website (WordPress, Joomla) is imperative but you must ask appropriate questions to screen out the fakers. If you neglect this you’ll be stuck wanting.
Effective web design is a process of planning. Knowing exactly what sells and how to convey an effective message. The website is a marketing tool; understand how to advertise with emphasis on value and benefit. When this process is handled by a knowledgeable marketer you’ll reap a reward tenfold. When you entrust a novice you’ll step backward, further away from your desired accomplishments. The process should feel like a smooth communication process, a broad mash-up of ideas that produce measurable results.
A great, inviting layout and color scheme that engages the viewer will build value but will be worthless without SEO and keyword strength. Determine what your competition does and take what works and don’t be afraid to drop dead weight.
Know what to do after the website is finished. You get it; the website is another marketing tool. An effective team or freelancer will not only help you create a professional website, they will also ensure that your website gets noticed. Get a commitment on what this means to them and how it will benefit you.
Most designers will have testimonials from previous clients on their website. It’s a good idea to see what the customers are saying about the services. Follow the web links and contact previous clients, find out if needs were met and if they’d recommend to a friend.
You’ll be sharing your vision and some important business or cause information. It’s important if not essential to feel comfortable with the individual you’re working with. Have the individual restate your vision and how you view it being accomplished. You’ll know how well they were listening and how well your ideas will be carried out by the response. Intellect is paramount, if they don’t understand your vision you’ll most likely be frustrated long after the website is complete.
The web designer or team you select better know the ins and outs of hosting, ftp, HTML, CSS, PHP, and cross-browser compatibility.
Ask the question: “If my website goes down or isn’t functioning correctly in IE and there’s an error what will you do?” They should know with great precision how to host the website and how to fix cross-browser issues. This may be more important than you think.
Content Management System
There is no reason I can think of that would justify a website not being a CMS. With a CMS website you update the information on the website with zero code knowledge. It saves you money and gives you control. If it’s not CMS, run away.
Fresh information helps get more visitors to your website. It shows off your knowledge and builds value in your product or service. Without a blog you will be out-witted by your competition.
Discuss price after you’ve met the designer or team. A low price is meaningless if you reap little to no reward. Pay too much and you’re bad with money. You need to feel like you’re getting a great deal, something good enough to tell a friend about. If your budget is small see if there is something or some way to work out a deal. If you don’t ask you’ll never know. Bottom line, it should make sense and you should be excited. Go with your gut.