How to Choose a Web Designer

There are tens of thousands of Web designers out there - has over 50,000 listed already - but with such a vast choice, choosing the right one can be a daunting prospect.

Below, we have tried to suggest some tips which you may consider useful and alert you to some of the pitfalls in choosing the right Web design company.

Choosing a Web designer near you

There are certain advantages to choosing a Web designer near you, or at least in the same country. For a start, if there are any disputes, you will at least both be subject to the same law, something which can become complicated if you each reside under different jurisdictions.

Secondly both you and the Web designer will trade in the same currency so paying him for his services is simple. A lot of people feel happier if they can actually have a meeting with the Web designer in person and dicuss the requirements face to face. This can certainly aid the initial consultation process and enable the Web designer to understand your needs more clearly.

However if expense is no object and you wish to hire the best of the best, you may wish to hire a design firm in another country. Some of the best design firms in the world are based in major capitals like London and New York. Under these circumstances you might be better off fly a representative out to meet the design firm wherever they are.

Clear objectives

When you get in touch with a Web designer, you will probably have a general idea about the type of Web site you are looking for, but you may not have a specific plan. A professional Web designer ought to be able to undertake a consultation process with you and listen to the criteria which you specify for the Web site. He should then walk you through the various options available to you to meet those criteria.

Having a clear idea about why you want a wesite and what its purpose is, is therefore crucial. If you are not sure what you want, the Web designer will be even less sure. Having a clear idea of the site's specification at the beginning will also save headaches later on - you should at all costs try to avoid a situation where the Web designer has designed something quite different to your expectations.

Written Specification & Contract

One way of avoiding such disparities is to draw up a written specification outlining exactly what work needs to be done as part of the consultation process with the Web designer. It is important to make sure that this document is as detailed and unambiguous as possible. Diagrams and sketches of the Web site can also be useful in minimising any ambiguity.

The document will enable the Web designer to be clear about what he needs to do and should enable you to hold the Web designer to account and insist that he redesigns the site at no extra charge to you if he diverges from the original specification.

Once everyone is clear about exactly what needs to be done and it is written down in black and white, you can negotiate a price. It is important that the contract and specification state exactly what the price covers. Clients often 'expect' additional services that the Web designer would normal provide as part of the package such as a domain name, Web hosting package and search engine site submission. But these extras incur additional costs, so you need to be clear about whether they are included in the Web designer's quote. The best way of avoiding any ambiguity is to ask the Web designer for a written quote specifiying exactly what is included for the price.

Branding & Corporate Identity

Some clients already have a corporate identity, a logo, a colour scheme and strong branding on brochures and other printed material. In these cases, a Web designer who can transfer that branding onto the Web is needed. It is also common for a client to have a graphic design company look after the aesthetic side of the site and produce a series of Web page templates. The Web designer can then concentrate on the technical aspects of the site and integrate the templates into the design at a later stage.

Other clients - particularly smaller ones - may not have such a defined corporate identity. These clients will be more reliant on the Web designer's creative abilities as he will be responsible for deciding the look and feel of the site. In this case, the client should look for a Web designer with strong graphic design skills.

Technical Design

Some Web sites are more than just an online brochure. You may want your site to have additional functionality such as a shopping cart, credit card processing, a product database or have a content management facility so you can update the site yourself without having to ask (and pay) the Web designer to do it for you.

All these facilities require that the Web designer has some programming ability and you should be aware that not all Web designers can program, even less program proficiently. The Web designer's level of competence as a programmer is an important factor for projects such as these, especially if the system they are developing will contain sensitive data such as personal information or credit card details. The Web designer at the very least should have an understanding of the techniques hackers might use to compromise the site's security, and how to protect against these risks.

Where can I find a Web designer? is the most extensive directory of Web designers on the Internet. We recommend that you have a look round at the websites of several Web design companies in your area and compare the sites in their portfolios before making a decision on which Web design company to choose. You can find Web design companies in your area in our directory on our front page.

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