How to choose a website designer in 2015

We wrote an article about choosing a website designer around 5 years ago and have decided to give it a complete re-write. The way in which website design has changed and the expectations that you may have as a client have altered during this period especially as the web has become such a critical platform for business growth no matter what industry you are in.

Below are a number of key points that you should consider when deciding who to entrust with your website design and development project. This is by no means a definitive guide but a short reference to lead you in the right direction.

First Impressions / Gut Feel

There is a very good reason that as a society we have been generally raised to believe that first impressions count and that’s because they do. If you have a really good feeling about the website designer when you first meet them then that is generally a good thing. However if your first meeting is delayed, rescheduled or the web developer is difficult to get a hold of then you should be concerned.

You want to engage someone who is professional, takes your time seriously and is able to meet a timeline.

Previous Experience

If your friend’s son or daughter has just finished their web design course and is vying for your project then it’s a valiant choice to engage them. After all we all started somewhere.

The concern here is that letting someone with limited experience design, develop and control your online presence can have detrimental and lasting effects. You may consider the worst case to be that you don’t achieve any sales or minimal visitors. The truth is that you can irrevocably damage your digital brand, be penalized by the search engines and require literally years of repair work to clear your domain name.

The bottom line is that you really should engage someone with as much experience as you can afford.

Communication

A significant, if not the most important aspect of the website design process is communication with you, the client. If you struggle to understand what the website designer is attempting to communicate in preliminary meetings then there is a good chance that will continue right through the project.

It is critical that the website designer is able to both understand your requirements and communicate technical elements to you free from ‘tech jargon’.

Location

If you are located in Brisbane then your first instinct may be to try and find a website designer in Brisbane. Working with web developers who are close to your location can provide a level of comfort and some clients who prefer face to face meetings and communication.

While using a website designer in the same city can have its advantages, given the available technology it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if you find someone you would like to work with in another area.

We frequently work with clients remotely, some of which we have never seen face to face. Between Facetime, Skype, email and phone there really isn’t any reason you need to be in the same area as the website designer you select.

Team Size

Web design companies come in all shapes and sizes, some with teams of staff and some with just a handful. The decision to engage a website design company should not be made on the premise that a large team will do a better job than a small dedicated team.

Large teams can struggle with communication issues while small teams tend to be in direct contact with the client. Large teams of staff may indicate a higher cost due to higher overheads than a small team.

If you are the kind of person that requires a number of people to confirm the direction you are going in is valid then a larger team may suit you. On the other hand, if you can trust a single professional, a smaller firm could be what you require.

Cost

The overall cost of your website development project will clearly be a factor in deciding which website designer you will engage. One of the important considerations will be how the website design company charges out it’s time. Some firms will charge by the hour, some will charge in small increments and some may charge a fixed project fee.

Possibly the most important consideration here is weighing up the estimated cost alongside the other relevant factors outlined above. Ultimately, a quote from a website developer that is $1000 higher but from whom you can easily communicate with may save you a significant amount of money in the long run.