So, you’ve finally decided that you need a website for your business? Well, there are a few key points to remember BEFORE you make one of the most crucial decisions for your business.
Choosing the right designer for your new business website:
When choosing the right web designer for your website, you should always shop around first to check out all of the available options. There are many web design companies out there to choose from. And most of them are pretty good at what they do.
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Always ask to see samples of a web designer’s previous work and examine their portfolio. This will help you get a better feel for the style of sites any particular web designer is capable of doing. Most of the time, web designers have their own unique style, and you can easily spot which designs they’ve done in the past. I mean, it’s similar to any other artist’s style; you can definitely spot their previous works based on the general layout, color scheme, and overall visual appearance of the sites. Experience is also a key factor here. Just like any other craft, web designers get better with experience. So naturally, you’ll be better off by choosing a web designer who has more experience under his or her belt.
Another key point you should define is whether or not the web designer can make you a 100% custom website. Or will it be just a basic template web design that 100’s or even 1,000 people already have the Internet? Pretty much anybody, these days can create a basic HTML web page in Microsoft Word or Publisher and change its title to reflect their Branson business. But you must ask yourself: “Is this really what I’m looking for”?
Web sites that are truly custom built will stand out more than the rest of the basic template web designs that so many people are using these days. A custom web design will catch the eye of your potential customers and show them that you have a really professional web presence and you mean business. A lot of web designers these days choose to do template websites for one of 2 reasons:
It’s cheaper to use a basic template web design. They might be lacking the necessary skills needed to develop a fully custom website. Whatever the case may be, make sure you go with a designer capable of creating a custom web design for you. It will inevitably cost you more for a custom site. But it is totally worth the extra money spent. Trust me, in the end; you will be much happier with your website if it is a site that’s unique and created for just your business and not everybody else’s.
Communication with a potential web designer is also critical in the development of your website. You need to be clear and define your goals up-front before you actually sign a web design service contract with a designer. Ensure you know what you are getting for your money, and make sure you get it in writing! I have a 9-page website design contract that I use every single time I design a new website. Included in this contract is an itemized list of all work that is to be performed during the website’s development. Things like the exact number of pages, the exact number of graphics to be designed, whether or not I need to create a logo, the estimated time before completion, whether or not routine site maintenance will be performed after the site is 6 months or 1 year old, etc.
Defining these things will help you in the long run and make sure you and the web designer are on the same page. I also use what I call my “web design planning worksheet.” This worksheet gives “milestones” or deadlines for each phase of the web design project. Things like “In 2 weeks the general layout will be done” and “2 weeks after that, the site will be coded and launched” and then “In one month after the website is launched, we will evaluate it to see what needs to be adjusted,” etc. (these are just examples, by the way. the details included in one of my actual worksheets gives exact dates and more specific milestones).
And what about the web hosting for your new website? Usually, a web designer will provide some insight as to which hosting company they recommend. Web designers, in general, have a preference for a hosting company that they know will be a good choice for your website, and they should assist you in making this selection.
Fortunately, we have our own web server here at Digital Spiral Web Design to do all of the hosting ourselves. This is very beneficial because we can make sure the webserver stays up and running, and if there is any maintenance that needs to be performed on the server, we can do it ourselves promptly. Plus, we will always cut a deal for our website hosting services to any new business that chooses us to do their web design.
Will your new website require any specialized web programming? Well, the answer to that question is based solely on the needs of your Branson website. What kind of site will it be? Does it need a shopping cart for e-commerce? Will you be implementing any special web applications or online forms for your viewers to fill out? Will it be a website that requires your viewers to fill out registrations and sign up so they can log in? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then chances are you’ll need a web designer who can also program.
Web developers and designers must be skilled in the art of web PROGRAMMING (something that is very different from regular web DESIGN). Web programming involves implementing different web programming languages like JAVA, PHP, Flash, SQL, or.NET. These web programming languages need highly skilled individuals to code them and develop web programs with them.
I personally love PHP! I use it for pretty much everything. I won’t go into PHP’s details in this article (I would have to write an entire book about it to cover all of it). But with PHP, I can create pretty much any web application that is logically possible.
So, make sure you choose a web designer capable of coding any special functions that your new website needs. This decision needs to be discussed and gone over by any potential web designer you might use to create your Branson website.
And finally, you should always check with the potential web designer’s previous clients to make sure they give him or her a good reference. Remember, it just like any other service. You need to verify a web designer’s references and make sure they can do what they say they can do.
So, to summarize all of the tips I’ve mentioned:
Ask questions, questions, and more questions before you choose a web designer. Clearly, define your goals from the beginning. Ask to see the web designer’s portfolio and samples of their previous work. Make sure they can help you with choosing a web hosting provider. Get documentation to show exactly how many pages will be included in the project and the estimated time before completion. If your Branson website requires special web programming, make sure the designer can handle it. I hope this article helps anybody who is getting ready to have a new website designed. A good website can really do wonders for your business!