If you’re trying to find a Website Designer get ready to be overwhelmed. Not so much by the sheer number of website designers that can be found on the web, but by the fact that there’s an obvious lack of service with many.
I just have to say it “Did the Realtors who left their sales positions in search of a new career go into freelance website design?” Having said that against some better judgment yet…having worked with many in the Real Estate Industry who I considered to be true professionals, I’ve learned much about what it takes to be an exceptional realtor. In the not so distant past however, everyone seemed to hold a license to sell real estate and “exceptional realtor” wasn’t often easily found —even though the choices were numerous. You could FIND a realtor…No problem. Every other neighbor, business owner–EVERYONE had a license to sell my house! Why? Well, because it sounded like a good idea for many to have a license—and quite frankly it was easy to obtain. At the time few could foretell the effect it would have on that industry. Well—now we know.
I’m beginning to wonder if the same type of scenario isn’t occurring in the website and graphic design industry. I had to laugh when the thought entered my mind, yet if you’ve looked for a website designer in the Tampa area, you’ll quickly see what I mean. The choices are many– which can be a good thing, or like the real estate industry—it can end up being a really bad thing as well. I suppose time will tell.
Much like the person who knows nothing about real estate, and who must hire someone to sell their home, choosing a website designer when you aren’t knowledgeable of the process can be risky. With so many web designers to choose from how do you know where to begin or what to be aware of? If you know nothing about how a website is built, how then will you recognize the difference between a good website designer and a bad one? Aren’t they all the same? Again, let’s compare this to hiring a realtor. Not all realtors offer the same level of service (even though they should) to reach the same end result. House sold, website built. In both industries some people have more or less experience, some charge more or less, some will do more for you and some may do just enough to get them by. Some have a big name and are high profile… some of the best in the industry who aren’t highly exposed— will work harder for you. Depending on who you hire you may pay for actual services rendered or you may pay for their fancy cars or offices while they render you a okay service. Some have too much business to manage and cannot give you the desired attention; some have no business and are going under. Trust me; it’s the same game, just a different industry.
Most consumers are looking for the most affordable service —yet others elect the company that has the largest corporate office building accessorized with all of the glamour of an NYC advertising giant. Those folks don’t mind absorbing the costs of their website designer’s luxurious habits. And that’s not a bad thing. Someone has to use them. What if you’re the average small business owner or entrepreneur who is just starting a new venture or jump starting an existing business? I can only comment on website designers in the Tampa area. I’m sure though that the problem exists in every metropolis. Too many website designers, not enough service.
But is service that important? Small business owners looking for a website design company want and need the following qualities that comprise the perfect website designer or website company.
Talented, Knowledgeable, Affordable, Reputable, Reliable, Available, Flexible and Generally Local.
With all of the choices available to the small business owner choosing usually boils down to making one or two phone calls—then, it’s generally hit or miss. Why? Most small business owners know nothing about the website design process. They don’t know what questions to ask or how to ask them. Many (most) end up hiring “on the fly” and then must look forward to initiating some level of damage control six months later. Once they get over the shame of it, they come to me. I tell them it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I admit to them that I know nothing about many things so when it comes time for me to “consume” I attempt to educate myself on the subject yet at times and against all better judgment I’ll jump right in with “blind trust.” I don’t recommend the second choice and have also been disappointed after making such reckless decisions. Hey…It happens.
What Should You Consider Prior to Choosing a Website Design Company?
Vision. First be aware of your vision for your company’s website. Write down what you would like your site to look like, collect a few web addresses of other sites that you like. Think about color choices, graphics, copy (include your keywords) and then roughly figure out how many pages you’ll need. This can be determined by looking at other sites as well then adding “links” or new pages as desired.
Budget. You probably already know what you can spend or are willing to spend on your company website. Start by calculating the number of pages by at least $80 per page for a simple identity site. Add an extra $10-$20 (per page) additionally for file downloads, uploads, blogs, feeds, etc. Now, those of you who are panicking right now…STOP THAT! This is just a very basic way to come to a rough estimate. It’s just a guideline. The cost can and will fluctuate higher or lower by as much as 20-80% depending on who you hire. And, yes, I find that amazing as well. Add to the above any extra graphic design or logo work, photo optimization services, scans, text (copy) special programming or scripting to that amount. Rates for these separate services vary but start at around $15 per hour roughly. That’s what most kids out of school charge at a minimum. Be fair, they aren’t working at McDonalds. They have a skill and should be paid for it. (That’s another article and no I’m not a recent graduate!)
Additional Services. How do you know if you need special programming or scripting? ASK. If you need a database or some special language or scripting, your designer should know this as soon as you present your “vision” along with your examples of other websites to them. You have to simply ask the question, even if you don’t quite understand the answer. It generally comes down to cost. If you don’t ask then it would be very easy for your designer to charge you an additional amount later having known you required the service at the start. Be aware.
Talent. Wow! There is so much talent out there that it’s scary. There are the creative designers and smart programmers. There are even some who have no real talent in either design or programming, yet they can take a template and change it to be used for your company website. (Not recommended) There are those who are expert “Search Engine Otimizationizers” (I know it’s not a word) and those who can write copy that can make a viewer laugh or cry—or buy—on demand. There is more than enough talent so how should you choose? Look for a company who can multitask. The success of your company website will depend on it. In short, attempt to find a Tampa website design firm who employs creative designers, writers, programmers, and who has a background in marketing. I know, the cash register in your brain is “ching-chinging” away, but you’ll be surprised how affordable hiring someone with all of these skills can be if you take the time to look.
Customer Service. I can’t stress enough how important customer service will be while your website is being designed. You will want to communicate often with your designer. As with any type of service, you know how frustrating it can be to be either put on perpetual hold or to sit for days or weeks awaiting a call back. We take pride in setting high standards when it comes to providing you with excellent customer service. From 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. six days a week we’ll be available to you and we don’t think that’s going too far. You won’t be connected with a “representative” either. You’ll speak directly to the person who is building your site… every time. Ask for references and read the testimonials of all prospective designers. Don’t rely solely on testimonials. Call or email your potential designer’s previous customers and ask about their experience with them. It’s not just the end result of the design that matters. It’s the overall experience you’ll have with your website designer.
This should help you to narrow your choice down and if you take time to look you’ll find that obtaining not one but ALL of the services mentioned above and wrapped up into one website design company can be affordable.
Author: Lori Fiore