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In the world of online everything, a business website is one of the most important parts of your business, if not the most important part. Clients go to your website for information, to find out your policies, look at your products and compare prices and services and see your business brand in action. Customers can shop for products easily from the comfort of their home and also write up reviews. Customer service, sales and marketing all come into place on a website. Since a website is the window into your brand, having a professional look and unique feel is what customers will remember. So if you have no understanding of how to build a memorable, usable site…where do you go to find someone? Below we've asked some entrepreneurs to lead us in the direction of finding a solid website designer.
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Start looking at portfolios and identify a few designers
Graphic designers are easy to find, but finding that ‘right one' can be tough. The obvious first step is to start looking at portfolios and identify a few designers that appeal taste and can execute in your style. Once you've found a few designers who's work you love, the process gets a bit tougher. The reason is that there are tons of designers with the prerequisite skill – the ability to do beautiful design work. Designers with true professionalism and solid client-service skills is another story. It's always a good idea to get each candidate on the phone and ask them questions like, ‘how busy are you?', ‘how do you handle billing and invoices', ‘how to you manage assets and files?', ‘do you produce formal style sheets, etc?', ‘how do your rights transfers work?', etc. Obviously these are all important points, but the real goal is to determine how well the designer can manage the business end of the process and all the things that come with it. After all, a designer who does incredible work but doesn't pick up the phone or take direction properly a recipe for frustration.
Thanks to Dave Hecker, Sagewing
Contact those who have designed sites you like
I think the best way to find a designer is to contact those that have designed sites you like! That's the only way to know you'll like their creative style. This small task has saved me many hours of frustration! I would have to find a designer through a freelancing site, just hoping for the right person to cross your path.
Thanks to Will Mitchell, StartupBros
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It never hurts to look locally
First, it never hurts to look locally. If the designer can visit your business location, they will gain a firsthand feel for what you do and how you differentiate yourself. Second, make sure the designer is experienced with web development, so that what they produce is going to be survive a translation into becoming a functional website. Third, make sure that the designer is asking questions about how the website will be used. These days, most businesses have certain expectations for functionality, more so than design, so your best bet might be a company more dedicated to website building and promotion than specialized in design.
Thanks to Ryan Turner, 3PRIME, LLC2
Using websites to view different portfolios
When creating CrowdPet, we needed to find not only a good designer, but also developer as well. Having worked on some frustrating projects in the past, in which design was outsourced to locations around the world, we knew we wanted to find a local agency that could meet both our design and code requirements, and that would be available for face to face meetings when the need arose. Our team began our search using websites like Sortfolio.com, in which freelance and agency designers can showcase their previous work and capabilities, and that has very strong local search functionality. After narrowing down our choices, we conducted phone and face to face interviews with a few shops before requesting proposals and making our final decision. The choice to keep our design agency local has been extremely beneficial to us as we have moved through the design process and are preparing to launch the full site this summer. Our Project Manager and designers are always available for a phone call or in person meeting, and it has allowed us to iterate on design and functionality much quicker than we otherwise would have.
Thanks to John Valentine, CrowdPet
The best way is through referrals
The best way is through referrals – At iAcquire, a digital marketing agency based in NYC and Phoenix, we found a gem of a developer (Robb Dorr) through personal connections from the CEO. Whether you use social media to tap into your network for the “ask” or reach out to people individually – the medium doesn't matter – the referral does. There are good designers out there – and terrible ones. Make sure their work is backed up by a good recommendation and you should be set.
Thanks to Allie Gray Freeland, iAcquire
Look at 3 things before choosing a website company
The best website builds get 3 things right: Design, messaging, and a quality platform. Many companies are very strong at one or two of these critical pieces, but struggle with the others. Design is critical, and should be easy to evaluate by looking at prior work. Make certain websites they've created are engaging and friendly from a navigational perspective. Also, look for formatting problems, and ask if they use a template or create a truly custom design. Templates will restrict what you can put where, and formatting problems send a message of low quality. If you need content for the website, make sure you're confident that their writer can effectively convey your message. Finally, it is very difficult to rank on the search engines without a quality platform that provides for the right code. Ask questions about the website's “backend,” even though you may not understand everything they tell you. How easily they can articulate the platform that they use (and why) will tell you a lot about whether it's high quality.
Thanks to Matt Starosciak, Proven Law Marketing
Get on WordPress
Go the easier route with web design, get on WordPress (it¹s a content management system that rocks). Go to Themeforest.net and browse the TONS of gorgeous themes/designs to choose from. They are highly customizable or just use the easy-to-understand theme options. Even if you have to pay someone to do it, it¹s very inexpensive. It¹s easy to update your site on your own (saving you money) and Google LOVES WordPress, so your site will stand out in search engines better than if it was just a regular html site. WordPress is the way to go almost all the time!
Thanks to Micah Warren, Large Media, Inc.
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Hiring interns who have just graduated college
When looking for a web designer we usually try to hire interns who just graduated college, along with professional web designers who have prior experience. Many of our interns have later become full-time employees since during their internship period we have trained them and geared their experience to fit the needs our company's website and environment. One of the major quality or talent that we look for in web developers is unique creativity, which makes them different from other candidates who apply for the job. We thoroughly explain our companies mission and products to the web developer, and then the first question we ask them to sample their creativity is “If had designed our current web pages, how differently or creatively would you have made it? and Why?” The responses they provided us have often become reality and a part of our website. TeliApp also pays close attention to the education background of the web developer and prior experiences they have had in the field, to better analyze if the candidate is a good match for our company.
Thanks to Priya Mohan, TeliApp
A designer who agrees to use a content management system
Companies should choose a web designer who agrees to use a content management system, like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, etc., to build the design. That way it will be easy for your company to update the web pages and add content. Websites need to be dynamic, not static, and should be updated weekly, sometimes daily. The easiest way to do this is with a content management system.
Thanks to Becky Boyd, MediaFirst
Search your area
The best way to find a graphic designer is to begin by searching locally. We are based in the Los Angeles area, so we decided to find a local service. We liked being able to have face-to-face meetings, so we could fully communicate what we wanted. We ended up deciding on our particular design company, because we admired its online portfolio. Online portfolios give you a good idea of what the design company is capable of, what kind of styles you can expect, and a better idea of what you might want for your own design.
Thanks to Trevor Orrick, Solve-It! Store
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