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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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Look at websites you deal with and contact the designers
I think that there are two different places you should rely on finding a designer for your website. You should look at the websites of the businesses you currently work with and if you like a design, contact them to see who designed their website. Then you can get feedback from someone you already know and trust to see what their experience was like with the designer. But I think that businesses should search on Google. If the designer is any good at his job, you should find their listing towards the top of the search results. Plus, if their website is at the top of the rankings, then chances are that they are good at SEO and that is what you really need to focus on for design. If you can't be found in search, then what's the point?
Thanks to Tom Brodbeck, Site Strategics
Related Post: Ideas for Branding Your Business on a Budget
Do research on people
I approach this topic from the perspective of a designer. As such, I would suggest that like hiring any service professional, people do their research. You would want to find a designer who has proven experience; someone who has created work similar to what you're looking for. That doesn't mean that if you run a bakery, their portfolio needs to be littered with bakery websites. However, if you're looking for an e-commerce site with web-to-print functionality and secure client login, then you don't want to hand that off to just anyone. Try to find a designer who understands your brand and can infuse your brand values throughout your site. In other words, you want a designer who can make your site stand out from your competitor's. That's something that you won't get through a DIY template site. And of course, don't shop for the cheapest price. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
Thanks to Tim Blake, Blake Design
Meet the person or have a strong referral
I think the best way to find a web designer is either by meeting the person or having a strong referral. I once tried to hire a web designer on Odesk, but I faced a problem that many do in that this web designer just wanted to just finish up the specs of the project, get paid, and get out. I have found that it's important to have a web designer who is committed to understanding the project, and going through the necessary revisions, without adding a load of billable hours.. I met my web designer in a seminar. After getting to know him personally and professionally, I saw that we had similar interests and he had a mindset where I knew he would be committed to my success and go through the creative revisions that would inevitably be necessary.
Thanks to Dustin Saiidi, Manifestation Academy
A company with SEO experience
When we were looking for a graphic designer, we wanted to find a company that had SEO experience, so they could, not only create an attractive design, but one that was optimized to attract the most customers. To find the best of the best, we did a Google Search. We figured, a business that has high Google rankings, probably knows a thing or two about SEO. We met with the three top ranking design/SEO businesses in our area, and not too surprisingly, gravitated to the top ranking one. We appreciated their professionalism and strong samples.
Thanks to Cyndi Monahan, NextDayFlyers
Related Post: Small Business SEO Basics: Keywords, Relevancy and Quality Work, So Don’t be Cute!
Accountability is everything
Website creation is an extremely virtual service which means you can work with incredibly gifted people from all over the world to build powerful and gorgeous websites. That said, if any part of the process goes wrong, it can be pretty tricky to work with designers across the globe, or even across the state. While the usual recommendations, testimonials, portfolios and other due diligence should be considered, being able to sit down across the table from your web designer may be the most important factor. Local businesses have a local reputation to maintain and they usually pride themselves on service.
Thanks to Don and Kate Gingold, Sprocket Websites
Asking other small businesses about their websites
As a small business we had searched high and low to find a place that we can actually get feedback and a real person to deal with about our website. The way we found Lotus was by my constant asking other small business about their website and who they used and their experience. We chose Lotus because we followed a retailer she made a site for and saw nice changes and found out about her in detail. Lotus is a real person and not a off shore contact and tells me how to use our budget in the wisest way vs so many that want to upsell everything. So, to sum it up I would recommend looking at various websites that you like and contact the designer and the site owner to get their feedback.
Thanks to Sharon Romero, Around the Collar
Related Post: How to Build Your Brand Experience Online
Someone who understands your industry
In creating The Persnickety Bride's website we contacted a number of companies in the stationery business to find a web developer who understood the industry and would give us the look and feel that we wanted to present. We were given two names and ended up going with a great design firm. The website took a couple of months to get together, but once done are sales shot up and we get nothing but compliments on the presentation of the site.
Thanks to Denise Buzy-Pucheu, The Persnickety Bride
Check out Sortfolio
ric and I are extremely passionate about Sortfolio, and how it has eliminated the confusion and difficulty that often results when trying to find a qualified web designer. Sortfolio finds web designers for specific project scopes, budgets and locations. This provides an easy solution for design firms and freelancers to find qualified leads and those looking for web designers. Eric and I are extremely passionate about Sortfolio, because it affords us the ability to contribute to the creative industry while being consistent with the quality that 37Signals is known and respected for. By making the process of connecting web designer to the client, Sortfolio shows an enormous opportunity to be instrumental in providing an immediate way to review design portfolios and qualifications. Lastly, Sortfolio gives businesses the luxury of finding qualified web designers which not only increases productivity, but encourages creativity by showcasing the talent of web designers who might have been overlooked if it weren’t for Sortfolio.
Thanks to Krishna Gupta, Sortfolio
Looking around at other website designs
For my blog/business design I looked at other websites and blogs I liked and then touched base with the designers. I would strongly recommend you look at other brands to see what you like/don't like and then find out about the designer behind it. You can then work together to come up with your ideal design. Be patient as sometimes this takes time as your vision is formed by the designer, not always how you originally envision.
Thanks to Harriet Kempton, Queen Kempton
Make sure you feel comfortable with the vision you set
My agency designs sites all the time, what I often advise my clients and others I consult is to make sure that they feel comfortable with the vision they set. This of course is an ambigious term in its self. So here are the few steps I would take. Look at previous work. This seems blatantly obvious but so many people skip this step or don¹t pay enough attention. Second see how the designer envisions your site and have them show you examples. Ask them how many revisions that work took (this will give you some idea of how fast they work). Lastly I would filter the group of designers still in the running by how well they understand the user experience… This cannot be stressed enough!
Thanks to Oleg Vasertriger, GorillaAd
Lots of good ideas here – one additional suggestion; it’s best to bring in an SEO partner right from the get-go. A good SEO firm should work closely with the web designer, copywriter and other partners to provide guidance on content, keyword targets, analytics and more. It’s a much better approach, and more cost-effective, than revisiting SEO considerations after the sites complete and launched.
Great tip, David. Thanks for sharing!
Interesting design pieces