NYC Web Design offers some tips on what to expect when hiring a web design company.
Professional websites help increase your company exposure. Hiring the right website company can mean the difference between success and making money or failure and losing money.
1. Research, Research Research...
Google is your friend. You should have some idea of the type of project you require. Use Google to search for website ideas from companies that are similar to yours. The more information you can give a web designer, the more accurate your quote will be and the better chances that you will be pleased with the end result. Browse competitive sites and keep in mind to spot several things:
- What kind of functionality do these sites have? Are they powered from a database? Are they just informational? Are they too busy? Are they too confusing to navigate? You should pay attention to how information is presented on the homepage and how easy it is to find out what the company is offering.
- How large are these websites? Does it look like a few pages? Or does it seem that there are hundreds of pages of dynamic content? Are there easy ways to contact the company, with a phone number or other contact information?
- What overall feeling do you get when you visit the site? Is the website cartoon-like, or a humorous website, or serious website, professional website, edgy website, or information website?
There is no magic formula to creating a successful website, so make a list of those sites you strongly like and those you do not like. This will be very useful to your web designer.
2. Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
After doing your online research of what sites you do and don't like, it's now time to decide what type of information your website should have.
- Sketch out a diagram of the type of pages you want to appear on your website. They might include an about us page, contact page, a page listing your services, if it's an e-commerce site, how you want your products to be displayed.
- Write as much information you can. You can always go back and edit it later on but while you're brainstorming and feeling creative it's best to get all your ideas down on paper.
- Determine what types of colors, images, and logos your website will have. Do you already have artwork you can provide the web designer so he or she can give your website the same look and feel as your company brand?
- Will there be interactive elements such as forms, reviews, videos, or Flash animations?
- Will it be an e-commerce type of website where you will be selling products or services? If so you must decide what type of merchant account and/or payment gateway to choose. Do you already accept credit cards from your bank using a POS? Or is this the first time you will be accepting credit cards? Contact NYC Web Design about any questions you may have regarding accepting Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards.
- Will your website require application development such as where you have secure logins, user sign ups which go into databases, inventory management, or password protected registration systems? These types of custom applications using programming languages will increase the cost of your project and certain hosting considerations will be needed to made which require databases, and possible SSL Secure Socket Layer Certificates which will encrypt your information and keep your website secure.
3. Who will it be?
Now that you have an idea of what type of website you need and have prepared the necessary information you can start shopping for a web design company. Unfortunately the web design industry like many other industries has many unprofessional and unskilled people that are willing to take your money and then leave you hung out to dry when it comes time to support your website or make changes. It is important you consider the items below which will help filter out potential unscrupulous companies:
- Is the web designer easy to reach either by phone or email? Nothing is worse than needing something changed on your website and it takes days for your web designer to even return your phone call. How quick is it to get your web designer on the phone? When you do call, do you speak with the designer or a receptionist who instructs they will call you back?
- Make sure your web designer has an online portfolio! Not only should your web designer have an online portfolio which displays their work, but you should be able to access those websites to make sure they are not just images of other websites. Also look for any signature of the website company on those portfolio sites.
- Will your web site designer provide you referrals upon request? This is an important one. You should pick a few sites from their online portfolio and request to speak with someone at that company to get a sense of what it was like doing business with the website company you're interested in. If a web company is hesitant to give you referrals or gives you ones of sites that you can't confirm exist, you should be very skeptical. Any good website company would love to have you call their references, and their happy clients would have no problem with singing their web designer's praises.
- Is your website company giving you pricing competitive to other sites in your industry? Be wary of any web designer who is too expensive and more importantly be VERY WARY of any website company that is too cheap. If it sounds too good to be true, it often is. It happens time and time again. A web designer will provide a very cheap quote to get your business. Then, once you are locked in with them if the going gets tough and some issues arise, they will leave you in the dust taking your money. Make sure you get a flat-fee for a job and clear scope agreed between you and your website designer before any agreement is made. Be warned of any company that wants to bill you hourly for the project and doesn't give you an estimate of time.
4. Now, let's make some money!
If you have read these tips carefully, and followed the steps outlined, you should be on your way to having a successful website that makes you proud and more importantly, makes you money! Any professional website company will hope your site will be successful because that will mean future business for them as your site continues to grow and changes are necessary.