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Website Designer Questions

July 2013


The list of design and content related shortcuts that people have attempted for their web pages could easily fill a book. Statements like, 'My daughter is doing my website for me.' , 'I will do my own' and 'We have an in house web person.', are just a sampling of the many shortcuts people use to save money.
Web design seems to be one of the first places small business owners want to use to for cost savings. This is probably due to the fact that web design is one of the most misunderstood components of the business process in today?s market.
You will hear commercials that shout at you; 'Anyone can make a website in 10 minutes' , 'Design your own website without any programming knowledge' , and 'FREE & Website Templates'. Yes, all are true to some extent butlet us be realistic for a moment.

Visit the site for your bank, or select a local radio or television station. These layouts provide for easy navigation and colors that are easy on the eye and more. Conversely, many other sites may leave you wondering if the business is real or just some guy or gal working from the living room.
I can verify the many long hours spent 'learning how' to use these products by many of my clients.
Web design is part art and part technical. A talented website designer can quickly get your visitors past the point of wondering if they should do business with you or not. We have all heard that we have 30 seconds to make a first impression. This is even more true with your website and the time frame is about 3 seconds.

Having a successful website on the Internet has everything to do with trust. You've got to be perceived as real first. You must also show that you can provide something that helps to fix problems for your potential customers. If your visitor questions your validity right off the bat, it is likely you will lose that person forever.
A professional website designer can create credibility and a website where you'll make a solid return on investment (ROI) as a result. Still, you need to review the credentials of the web designer.

Here are some questions to ask your candidate and make your website decisions more informed:

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Ask about sales experience. Your designer will be one of your sales people and should have a sales reflection in the structure of your content and layout for you to be successful. A basic understanding of sales is necessary. The best designers are creative people who are able to create a need and offer a solution with their layout concepts.
Find out what type of Internet marketing strategy training is in their background. Not only should a designer know how to sell, they should also have a working knowledge of how to sell on the internet and how it relates to your site. In the movie 'Field of Dreams', Ray Kinsella hears a voice whisper, 'If you build it, he will come'. That will not happen in real life, you need a marketing strategy and someone who understands how to make it work.
You will also want to find out if this is a full-time job for your web designer. Always work with full-time internet professionals. Others may have time conflicts at the worst time possible for you. Professionals will be accessible when you need them.
Stability is also important to you. Find out how long this person has been in business. You need a person and a company that has a strong potential of being here next year and the next. Don't let this be a deal breaker, some one person companies are very solid, just ask about their history.
Look into their offerings in terms of Internet marketing services beyond website design. Building a web page is just part of the process and an internet strategy should have the objective of business growth.
Ask about the services they offer and the results they have had. Beware of the designer who claims to have you at the top of the Google search. Marketing is an on-going process and takes time, testing and monitoring.
owner Be the owner of your Website and URL and Content. At the end of the day, you should own your website and all of its contents. If you don't have access to all content , (usernames, passwords, scripts, graphics, etc.), you will not be in control of your site. Think of the 'Mack Truck Secnario' where your webmaster is no longer available. At best it can be a puzzle even to a professional to figure out what is going on with webiste structures. Do not leave it to chance. Minimize your anguish, maintain full control over all parts and pieces. Get receipts for iStockphotos or purchase them yourself. Image resale companies visit sites and charge for photos that are not paid for. Don't get caught in litigation for a five dollar item.
Find out if designs will be made from pre-made templates or hand coded? Some are against using pre-made templates. Others don't understand why you'd use anything else. Templates are great for a low-budgets and can be of fairly high quality. Custom sites will usually provide a more unique branding to your site. Each has its place and both are valid under certain circumstances but you need to know which is used just in case.
Always ask 'What is your average turnaround time per project?' Two or three weeks is normal but some more involved sites may require more time. You will provide much if not all of the content so be ready to submit it as soon as possible then the designer can work editing, graphics and layout with you much faster.
Know your Cost Structure up front. A site may cost you $100, $5000 or more. Ask up front for the price and don't enter into an open ended agreement without control. You will need to know if you can make your money back in a few months or if it will take longer. The return on investment (ROI) is usually measured by months not years in this scenario. Hourly rates should typically apply only to design modifications or upgrades.
Find out if you can make content changes to your website. Content management systems (CMS) are available and anyone with basic typing skills should be able to edit text and add or change photos. As mentioned before, the website is your business card. Either you or an employee may need to have content control without the requirements of webmaster involvement. Look for support options in the CMS. You may need some help be sure you know when and how to get it and any associated costs.

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Only an inexperienced designer will ask for a logo and photos before asking for a planning session.

With any website project, your goal should be to generate new business. That will not happen with only photos and a logo.

The first step is a planning stage and a clearly defined end result. Then add graphics and pictures as needed to clarify and enhance.

Your business website is your business card. The decision of choosing a website designer is an extremely important one and should not be taken lightly.
Volunteers, a friend or a family member are all great money savers but be cautious, it will only be a matter of time before that element gets side-tracked. Always have content control and always insist on a backup of everything a designer does for you. Most important; take charge of your road map to a successful website design. Formulate a business plan and outline for the designer to follow.

Website security

To me, this is perhaps the most compelling argument for outsoursing your business website to a professional.
Professional heart surgeons do heart surgery. Professional dentists do dentistry. Professional website devlopers develop websites. Today your web property is the heart of your business.Your web site is your business card and your marketing arm. It should be professionally developed and optimized for maximum return on investment.

While having a website may seem like an unnecessary cost if you're not a prolific internet user yourself, a recent survey showed around 97% of the US population now has access to an internet connection - that's a big business opportunity you'll be missing out on if you don't have a web presence. Even if your business' website lists little more than your address and opening hours, maintaining a web presence could give you the edge over more technophobic competitors.
We are the home of the $250 website, give us a call today 503 808-0021

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