What to Look for in a Web Designer

Trying to find a company or individual to design, program and maintain your website can be a very intimidating task!  I have seen many people go through this process and, initially, they always seem to have a “deer in the headlights” look on their faces!  It really isn’t too different, I think, from the way my face must look every time I walk into The Buckle to buy a pair of jeans!  Hey, some of us are overwhelmed by the thought of developing a web presence while others of us are intimidated by the thought of matching our own clothing before we leave the house…..it’s all about how we present ourselves to the world, right?

Today I found a very helpful article that I wanted to share with you if you happen to be shopping for a web designer at the moment.  Don’t be overwhelmed.  Take some advice and then go with your gut.  I found this article on about.com.  A few things the author said that I would like to highlight for you are:

Designer Portfolio…look for examples that show diversity and range for the designer. Ask to see the portfolio online so that you can see how the websites they’ve built actually work. This is especially important if you’re looking for a designer to build any type of interactivity for your website.

Designer Skills…to assess this in a Web designer, you need to know what you need on your website. This can be hard, but worth thinking through beforehand.  But some skills that they should definitely know include: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  It is important to note that there is the possibility that one person might know a wide range of technologies and programming languages (like PHP, Flash, Ajax, SEO, graphics creation, content writing), it is NOT likely that they will know them all well.  If they tell you they don’t like JavaScript, so they sub-contract all JavaScript work out to someone else, you should consider this a bonus. They know their weaknesses and have figured out a way to work around them.

Designer Experience…while experience can be useful, it can also be a drawback. Just because a designer has less experience doesn’t mean that he or she can’t build a beautiful site for you. Before you base your decision solely on how many sites they’ve built or how long they’ve been in business, think about this:

  • Many long-time designers are stuck in their habits and might not be willing or able to give you a cutting edge website (if that’s what you want).
  • Younger designers are more likely to have gone to school to get a Web design degree. While this isn’t vital either, it does tell you that this person has academic knowledge that an older designer might only have through practice.

Designer Fees…the same rule applies here as with anywhere, “you will probably get what you pay for”.  “Free” means you’ll get a very bad site or very very little, or maybe you’ll get a good site, and then when you ask them to make one change they’ll never answer your calls.  Volunteering and barter is different than free. If you run a non-profit, you might be able to find a Web designer to volunteer time for your website. If you offer a service that is valuable to the designer, you may be able to trade for their web services.

Remember, web design is a specific expertise that only a qualified and trained individual can deliver.  If you need a plumber, you don’t call a florist.  If you need an electrician, you don’t call a hairdresser.  The world wide web might be somewhat new and you may be wary of how to navigate the process of entering it….but you will probably need the expertise of a qualified individual or company to help you, web design is a specific skill set like any other specialized trade.

Read more helpful information on hiring a web designer at about.com>>>

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