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How to plan making a website: Choosing the right web designer(s)/developer(s)

Updated on October 5, 2014

"Web designer(s)/developers" let me address this...

Just so that you know, when I write "web designer(s)/developers I want to show that there is a difference. Web designers are more on the graphical side of the website but tend to also do coding whereas developers are more on the coding side of the website but can tend to do the designing too. You should evaluate what you need from a designer and search out the one that'd best help you. For example, if you need an online e-commerce site you'll probably want to hire a developer to do a lot of complex coding whereas if you want to have a site that shows information and tries to attract an audience you'll choose a designer.

Why is it important to research first?

In the previous article I wrote about why is was important to plan and the content within that paragraph is still very relevant. If you haven't seen it you'll definitely gain from reading the article but also this is continuation so there may be references to it. Now, in any business you'll be wanting to get the best service for your money so it'll always be wise to 'do your homework' on the topic. By not researching first you're opening yourself up to paying way more than you need to.You need to learn as much as possible to make an informed and wise decision. Above all it improves your productivity and efficiency with time.

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Their website

From looking at potential companies' work (portfolio) and their own site you'll get a good idea of how good they actually are. However, bare in mind that companies often only put in their portfolio the sites they feel are their best as well as considering that designing your own site, from the perspective of the designer, is extremely hard. You shouldn't judge them too much on their own site but instead should look at sites they've made as well as going a quick search online such as "websites made by ......." as well as "reviews of .......", looking at sites they don't publicise as well as what people think of their services.

In-depth research

As I've briefly mentioned in Their website (above) you should try to find reviews of the company online. Of course not all companies will be large enough to have many reviews but all successful companies tend to have social media sites, etc. so you could visit their Facebook wall and see what people have written. Furthermore you could contact the website owners of a few companies listed in their portfolio via their website (they'd probably have a phone number/email) as well as the companies you've found by searching "websites made by .......?".

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First contact

Once you've gathered a list of a few potential companies, that you'd like to hire, you should have everything from part 1 ready to send to each one. Your first view of the company will be based on the first email, phone call, etc that you have with them.

You should consider these things:

  • Do they start with polite greetings?
  • How is their tone of voice? Bored? Excited?
  • Do they explain their services well? Do they even know everything that their company offers? (You'd be surprised by how many times an employee may say "don't know")
  • Have they fully understood what you want from them?
  • Finally, are you convinced?

Stay clear of:

  • People who seem rude, pushy and obnoxious.
  • People who try to get straight to discussions about money.
  • And, people who never stop talking about their services. (However, it can be good to know everything they do.)

During your discussions

While talking with the designers you should ask them these 7 questions:

  1. How long have you been designing websites?
  2. Will I or how much of the site will I own once it's complete?
  3. What do you include with each website?
  4. What do you need from me before you get started? (e.g. a domain name, previous website files or web hosting access)
  5. Will my site be mobile friendly?
  6. How much do you expect it to cost?
  7. Do you offer marketing services (to get my site noticed)?

Summary

If you've really done each part right then you should be confident enough to go with one company, going into further discussions.

You need to:

  • Look at what they've made (for themselves and others).
  • Find out as much about them as possible prior to discussions.
  • Analyse the way they interact with your call/email/etc.
  • Ask all the relevant questions, making sure there are no hidden surprises.

If you do these 4 points you'll be able to choose the right web designer(s)/ developer(s).

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