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Website Development
Posted by John Smulo

How to Be Smart About Picking A Web Designer

If you’re looking for a web designer, either to add small changes to your current website or to build a new one from scratch, you’ve probably already found dozens—or maybe even hundreds—of potential candidates for the job. It’s true that finding someone who claims to design websites is the easy part. Choosing from the multitudes, however, is not.

How can you be sure you pick a winner to design your company website? Here are a few things to watch for.

Designer Does Not Equal Developer

If your web designer doesn’t realize there is a different between designing and developing, prepare to be disappointed. Many “designers” are, in fact, developers who understand the coding necessary to create a functional site but lack the creativity and originality that design requires.

Sure, you may end up with a site that does all the things you need it to do, but the aesthetics will be sorely lacking. Be sure you know exactly what you’re getting with your web designer.

Of course, this also goes both ways. You may contract with a web designer without realizes he or she can’t convert the design to functional code. What good is a pretty site if it doesn’t work?

Design Should Focus on the User

We all want the most beautiful website on the Internet, but all the design in the world is useless if visitors can’t navigate. A great designer understands that a website needs to be functional. All the buttons should be clearly marked, the pages well defined, and the loading times as fast as you can get them. If you sacrifice any of these in the name of a gorgeous design, you take a risk on losing potential clients.

Before you deploy a new web design, make sure you test all the pages with various users of different skill levels. If even the least savvy user can’t navigate your website, it’s time to go back to the drawing board…and maybe hire a new web designer.

Responsive Design Is Included

Whether your website is designed from the ground up or built on custom themes for WordPress, Joomla, or other site builders, responsive design must always be included. Now, more than ever, people are using mobile devices to access just about everything. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you could miss out on a huge audience. How many people do you think will come back to your page once they’re in front of a PC or laptop? Most will have already discovered the assistance they need through another company that has responsive design for mobile devices.

When working with a web designer, make sure they not only understand the importance of responsive design, but they also include design for mobile devices as part of the overall price.

Designer Understands SEO Basics

While web designers probably don’t understand the ins and outs of SEO, especially at the rate Google has changed things lately, they should have a solid grasp on the basics. As with the need to understand at least a little bit of coding so the design won’t be too hard for developers to transfer into a functional site, designers should also configure sites for the best possible SEO results. This means any text on the site should never be created using JavaScript, as this language is notoriously bad for SEO.

Other tips and tricks are also important for designers to know, such as the plugins that might help track keywords and click-through rates or using alt-text for images and other rich media. The designer doesn’t need to know everything, but a good foundation of knowledge is certainly helpful.

Ease of Editing and Adding Pages

Many designers who create a page from the ground up with charge for a certain number of pages. Companies that employ these designers then run into several problems down the line. First, what happens if you need to make a simple change to one of the pages? Even more troubling, what happens if you need to create all new pages to reflect the growth of your company?

When you seek out a web designer, make sure the process they use will allow for easy editing and addition down the line. If the designer can create templates for site owners to use, that’s probably the best solution. You should also receive some sort of training for updating and adding pages, too. A great designer wont mind sharing knowledge to help your company keep your website current.

Attaching a Blog

The blog is one of the most important components of a business website. If you’re not planning to keep a blog for your company, you may want to think again. This is crucial, since sites with blogs receive up to 55% more traffic, and your web designer needs to plan for one. The blog must be attached to your site for you to gain any benefit from it. Even if you start one in WordPress or other blogging platform, you can later have it attached to your website so the domain names match. For instance, your URL for your blog should read either blog.companyname.com or companyname.com/blog. As you might imagine, this will help you with SEO.

If your designer can’t or won’t help you attach a blog to your website—one you can easily update on your own—you need to seek assistance elsewhere. You’ll pay too much in time and money just keeping up with your blog for business and SEO purposes; you don’t need to shell out more money every time you need a new page added to your site.

Avoid the One-Trick Pony

Now that you know several things to ask about, you’re ready to see some samples. This is one of the most crucial parts of the decision-making process. Is your designer a one-trick pony? Carefully examine the different sites in the portfolio. Do they use similar color schemes? Is the layout and functionality the same for every website? If so, you may want to take your business elsewhere. How can you stand out from the crowd if your website looks exactly like everyone else’s?

With these tips, you can make some pretty intelligent decisions regarding your web designer. Of course, if you need some assistance, we’re always available to give some guidance. If you leave a comment, we’ll do our best to answer all your questions.

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