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Some Points to remember when Hiring a Web Designer

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If you are a business owner looking to expand your company onto the Web, the subject of hiring a web designer is likely to rear its head at some stage.

But, as a layperson, how can you tell apart good, bad and downright ugly web designers?

Even if you don't know the first thing about web design, or the many factors which differentiate a high-quailty, functional website from something that acts like a three-legged greyhound, there are a few pertinent questions you can ask your prospective contractor to at least get a rough idea of his or her level of accomplishment.

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Here are a few points worth raising when hiring a web designer

  1. Does the web designer create custom websites?
    Custom design holds a number of major advantages compared to template based design, not least from an aesthetic point of view. Furthermore, by and large designers who work solely from preset templates don't have as deep a knowledge of the Web as those working from scratch.
  2. How flexible will the design be?
    After all, if your company grows, your website should be able to grow alongside it. Additionally, the site’s design should reflect your industry or market sector. The designer should present you with a draft copy for final approval and be willing to change things as necessary before construction on the final version actually starts.
  3. Does he/she adhere to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards?
    W3C compliance is an essential part of successful online business, maybe not directly from a search-ranking point of view, but certainly where your website's usability & viewability are concerned. Also, if the web designer does not adhere to W3C standards, be sure to ask why this is, since non-compliant sites tend not to perform as well as their compliant counterparts.
  4. Can you get a service guarantee?
    Service guarantees should be in place in case the final result does not conform to your original specifications or the site turns out to be a complete monster. The vast majority of experienced and ethical operators will have no problem with providing service guarantees.
  5. Does the web designer also handle web promotion?
    Although not strictly speaking an essential, it is nevertheless a big plus if the designer is familiar with the promotional aspect of online business. In case web promotion is not part of the designer’s services, they should still carry out basic site & link-structuring, and know the basics of high-quality content & keyword distribution.
  6. Will you be charged by the hour?
    This point is often ignored by clients hiring a web designer; usually to their own detriment. Most reputable web designers will charge a flat fee for the design aspect of your web site, once the design and scope of your website have been established. In many cases the service guarantee will make provisions for excessive specification changes or redesign requests by the client.
  7. Does the designer arrange domain name registration and hosting?
    If this is not the case you will have to go through the process of domain name registration and obtaining a hosting account for your site. If you are not familiar with the concepts of domain names and web hosting you should inform yourself before contacting a web designer.
  8. If the designer does handle registration and hosting, whose name is it in?
    I've lost count of the number of people who have fallen foul of this very simple, yet often overlooked, point. If you hire a web designer to give you a full service design package, then you have to make sure that the designer has actually registered your domain name, and your web hosting package in your name. If not, you run the risk of losing your entire website, should the designer go bust, or should he/she decide to hold your website hostage.

And, in those immortal words of Columbo: "Just one last thing..."

Do you have enough information about your product or service to warrant creating a viable web site?

Without sufficient content, there is really very little point in starting an online business. And this seemingly minor point yet another cause of long-term failure for many fledgling websites.

If you're hiring the right web designer, he or she should tell you from the start that your business is on thin ice.

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But... He or she should also be able to advise you about how to remedy this particular state of affairs quite easily.

So, if you're hiring a web designer, now at least you can make sure it's the right one...

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