The top eight things you need to know.
Developing a web site is not an easy task. In fact, it can be downright scary!! Especially when you have no idea what goes into a site…how it is built? How do I hire a web designer? What do I need to know? How much will it cost me? Why is your secretary dressed like Lady Gaga? Ha, now that I have your attention, let's ease some of that fear with my top eight things that you should know before contacting a web designer.
8. Do you have a domain name and hosting?
This is by far the most important question a web designer will ask you…and not knowing the answer can make you vulnerable to misinformation. A domain name and hosting are two separate items. In my opinion, they should remain that way. Why you ask? For the sake of trouble shooting further down the road. When your hosting company doesn't live up to your expectations, then it is easier to switch to a new hosting company if the domain name is somewhere other than your current host company. You should research domain names that relate to your business on sites like whois.sc or godaddy.com. A word of advice about hosting…GOOD hosting is typically NOT free. A good hosting package may cost you anywhere from $100 - $200 per year.
7. Do you want a Brochure or a Catalog
Explaining to a web designer that you want your site to act like an electronic brochure or a catalog will help to determine want kind of site you will want. An electronic brochure tells a designer that you are looking for a static informational site. If you are looking for a catalog, it tells the designer you need an e-commerce site with a shopping cart for customers to purchase your products on-line.
6. What kind of updates will you need?
All websites need to be updated by someone. The point is knowing how you want to update your site. Do you think you have the knowledge to do it yourself, or do you need the designer to do updates? Now, there are many options that can be offered regarding updates. The designer can set up access to the files so you can make changes with your own web program, give your site a Content Management System, or they can offer you a maintenance program. This is usually a monthly retainer fee to make changes to your site, and the cost will depend on how much you need to update every month.
5. Do you have any sites that appeal to your taste?
Nothing helps a designer appeal to your style than showing them what you like. So give them a list of 3-5 sites that appeal to you. These sites can give the designer a sense of your style and apply it to your design. Of course, a good designer will be able to explain why you should or should not use that design. A good designer will not copy the design you like, but customize a site that has the same feel, but is uniquely yours.
4. When does the site need to be done?
A web design involves a very complex set of elements. Depending on the type of site you want produced, it may take a day to three months to complete. You shouldn’t expect a shopping cart site to be complete tomorrow, or even a two page web site to be complete in three months…it depends on the complexity of the site and its content. If you need a site to be done by a certain timeframe, make sure your designer knows this information up front, since this can affect the estimated cost.
3. How much content will there be?
Content is key to any website. It should be keyword rich to draw search engines to your business. Who will be responsible for the content? The designer will need to know if you will provide content or if they will have to write it, so they can give you a more accurate cost estimate. If you will not be providing the content, the designer may include a secondary source to write the content.
2. Do you like the designer’s portfolio?
One way to assure a successful site design is by reviewing a designer’s portfolio. Every web designer "should" have a web site. If not, run far, far away!!! Visit the designer’s web site and check out their portfolio. Make sure you like how they problem solve other business sites. More than likely, if they have a nice style and the sites they showcase are appealing, then yours will be also.
1. Who owns your site?
This is critical and often overlooked. Ask up front what happens after the final payment is made. Who has the rights to the site? Many businesses charge a license to use the site after it is designed and on the Internet. Others give you full rights to your site. Knowing the designers policy will let you know if will you own your site or the designer will.
So hopefully I eased some horror of contacting a web designer, and help you to feel more comfortable knowing what you want in a web site. And give us a call, we promise to make you feel as comfortable as possible. And get you a site that fits your needs. If nothing else, we can possibly design you a good Lady Gaga Costume.
Owner, Graphic Artist, Web Designer