Picking the right designer - just like picking the right mechanic!
Picking the right web designer really isn’t a quick nor an easy decision; it’s a bit like picking the right mechanic.
Get a great mechanic who is honest and doesn’t charge you for things you don’t actually need and you will stick with him and tell your friends about him. Get a bad mechanic and you can walk out with a huge bill and a car that still doesn’t work correctly.
In many ways in fact web designers have the same job as a mechanic. Taking on board your website that was built by someone else, looking under the hood to understand the mechanics of how it was put together and putting together a plan to make improvements and make sure the engine runs smoothly!
So what should you look for in a web designer?
Firstly when you are chatting to various web design companies, you want to understand the processes they follow when they take on board a new client.
The team: The team of web designers you will be working with and how they interact with you is such an important aspect to choosing the right web design company. Will you have a project manager over seeing your entire project? Will there be just one central person to deal with or will you have to deal with multiple people? Is the team small or large – depending on your project this can be a defining factor. If you have a large scale project with a limited time frame and you require a large full team of web developers to work on it then perhaps establishing a one on one relationship with a small team is not what you are looking for and in fact your motivation might simply be to get as many hands on deck in which case a big web design agency with many web developers might suite your requirements perfectly.
If however on the other hand you are looking to create a business website, directory or membership style site and want to really sit with your web designers and developers and be part of the process, a boutique web design firm may be exactly what you are looking for. A small dedicated team can offer really customised and personalised service and knowing who exactly will be working on your project can be a very assuring process.
CMS of choice: Apart from picking a great team of designers that you feel comfortable working with you want to make sure that you also pick a web design company that will offer you a CMS that not only you can easily work with and use but one that has the capabilities to grow with your business over time. Different website design companies will use different CMS systems so be sure to investigate this when looking at choosing the right web design company for your project.
The design process: The next thing to weigh up when trying to find the perfect web designer for your project is understanding their design processes. Do they use pre-fabricated templates that they then customise to match your requirements or do they completely design a custom design from the ground up? Depending again on your requirements for your website you may not need a custom website and may need to reduce costs with a basic template site but of course if you are looking to develop a serious business website that differentiates you from your competitors then you will require a web design company that offers custom design work. Once you understand how the designer works you next need to understand how many designs you will presented with and how many revisions are supplied. Don’t be afraid to enquire how those designs are presented. Will they appear as a link to a website online so you will get to see the design as it will appear online or will it be presented as a pdf. How long does the design process generally take?
Moving into development: Next find out how the website company handles the development process. Are their developers in house? This normally tells you that the work is probably not outsourced; ask the question around if the work is outsourced or if the developers work in the office. If you are working on a bespoke website it’s nice to know you can meet the developers you will be working with.
Ongoing maintenance and support: One of the most important things to look for with the web design company you decide to go with is the post-sales support and maintenance. If you are on a tighter budget and go with a company that designs sites in quantity rather than quality the likelihood is you will be dealing with a call centre regarding any support if support is offered. If you have a custom web site designed by a web design agency then more than likely you will have a designated account manager who will be there to support you for the life of your site. Depending on the complexity of the site, this can be worth its weight and gold so you are not constantly repeating yourself to new staff members.
Once you understand the website companies processes you can assess the other defining factors in making your decisions..but what are they?
Deciding whether you need to meet: Again this all comes down to the size and complexity of your project. If you are developing a basic business website you may know exactly what you need and not feel the need to meet with your web designer of choice. On the other hand, if you are developing a site requiring more complex features such as a directory, membership, or other unique features it may be imperative to meet with the team you are looking to engage. This alone can be a huge factor in quickly eliminating a few companies from your short list, perhaps you are only looking to deal with local agencies.
Proven and recommended: A proven track record is essential when choosing a web design company to align yourself with. If the web designer and developers have a solid history over many years of developing custom and varied projects that is clearly a testimony to their business. Of course being recommended to a company is also a clear sign that the company has solid ethics and processes that have impressed others.
Honest and helpful: Getting a website developed is more than design and features, a good web design company should consult with you and advise you with regards to ideas you have for your website, let you know what will work and won’t work and make appropriate recommendations.
If you would like to have a chat to us about how we take you through the process of developing a website, give us a call to day on 02 8006 3402
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