Green Bird Media

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Evaluating a Web Designer

How Does One Choose a Designer?

If you’ve been shopping for a website lately, you’ve found that they range in price from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Then there’s the dazzling array of choices of build-your-own websites. The pricing world of web design is so wild and wooly because it’s very challenging to evaluate skill levels. Here are a few essential points to help you evaluate the designer you’re so enamored with:

Skip the Low Bid

I wouldn’t recommend a designer with fewer than two years in the industry because you’re investing in that person’s results and track record. Anyone can buy website building software and hang out a website designer shingle. Low prices can mean an inexperienced designer. Hedge your bets and skip the low bid.

No Weekend Warriors

Even if someone is a web professional, hiring him or her for after-hours work because he or she is a friend, relative, or church member is usually not a good idea. More horror stories begin with the phrase. “I hired someone to design my website during his or her spare time (a good designer doesn’t actually have spare time) and now the designer is not returning my calls.” Considering a complex website can take hundreds of hours, divide that by the 30 minutes the designer can spare each weekend and you can see how long you’ll be waiting. Also, it’s REALLY hard to fire your mother-in-law.

Robots are Lazy – CSS & XHTML

CSS and XHTML serve as the engine under your website hood. Whether you have a sleek Ferrari 12-cylinder or a rickety-hamster-in-a-cage is up to you. Turns out that the search engine robots are lazy and don’t really enjoy crawling through poorly written code.
Make sure your designer writes in the latest web standard languages available. Also consider if you need to meet accessibility standards. Check out the W3Schools.com to learn all about web standards. (http://w3schools.com) Hint: Retire your FrontPage (hideous code) and opt for Contribute by Macromedia (made to work with Dreamweaver) for self-editing your new website.

Know Thy SEO

Talk to your SEO company about your needs before you rebuild your site. You may need to create special landing pages, decide which pages need to be optimized, and create special redirects if you’re already highly-ranked.

Clear Vision for Navigation and Information Hierarchy

Visit a few websites your designer has done, keeping in mind that sometimes clients don’t take the good advice offered to them. Click through the site and see if: it feels good, has intuitive navigation, easy-to-find products, it’s attractive, and that overall it’s a website you enjoy browsing. If you’re finding that you’re struggling to navigate, read, or browse, it’s not a good design. No amount of SEO-work will compensate for poor navigation or bad information hierarchy. You can drive business to your site but you can’t make them stay.

Talk to References

Once the designer is a clear finalist, ask for a few references. You’ll want to find out his or her general performance on issues like:

  • Reliability
  • Completing tasks, follow-through
  • Anticipating issues
  • Accessibity
  • Longevity with clients – more than one short project

Talk to Your Designer:

You want to be able to work with your designer for the long haul. We feel we don’t just build websites, we’re growing your company. Your website is not just a business tool, it’s your 24/7 front lobby, sales team, and shipping department. You make a first impression with it every day and it needs to properly reflect your company’s core values and professionalism.

Visit their Website:

A designer’s website should have the same points that we’ve discussed earlier. Especially important are no broken links, bad navigation, or poor graphics. You should make sure that work is done in-house and that production farms and templates aren’t used. These often produce weak coding and an off-the-shelf appearance with websites.

If you have any questions, contact us 619-291-5303.