Why is finding professional web developers so difficult? For many non-technical startups, the problem boils down to knowing what to look for in the first place. You approach the designer with only a vision of your web site and entrust the look, feel, and message to them. For better or for worse, your fate is in their hands. Hiring a web develop doesn’t HAVE to be a scary journey into the unknown. I’ll tell you WHAT to look for in a developer, what to know BEFORE you look for a developer, and WHERE to find a developer.
If you’re building a website or want to update your existing website and you decide to hire a designer to help you can quickly get overwhelmed. There are thousands of Web designers. How do you decide what makes one designer better than another designer?
An experienced designer will have more skills to create a sophisticated looking and functioning web site. They will have more tools and tricks and knowledge to help you accomplish your business goals.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.
While experience might not be important, having a good portfolio is. You shouldn’t be as concerned with whether the portfolio is made up of live sites, so much that the examples 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.
Some people will tell you that the way the potential Web designer’s personal site looks is a good measure of how good a designer they will be. But I disagree with this too. While I do think having a good User interface design is important. I don’t think that it’s a good indicator of how well they would design your site. Most web designers design their business site when they’re not working on paying jobs. And if they have tons of time to modify their business site, then they don’t have a lot of experience, do they? But they might have a good portfolio. So you have to judge for yourself.
One thing you’d better know up front is how involved your web developer will be in the creative process. Unless you are an experienced marketer, you probably will need at least a little help writing web copy and planning the layout of your web site. Will your web developer help you develop content?
Writing for the web is a little different than writing for a print marketing piece. By using someone with experience in writing web copy, you can ensure that the message as well as the look of your site is geared to sell. Also, be aware of over-creative know-it-all designers who won’t listen to your input. It’s your web site, and you should have creative input. The key is to finding a developer that will listen to your suggestions and work WITH you offering ideas and advice when planning your site.
4) COMMUNICATION SKILLS
How easy is your designer to talk to? Do you trust them? Can you understand what they are explaining to you or do they use techno-babble. Do they take time to listen to your needs? If you are going to have a good long term working relationship, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable with one another and can communicate clearly.
The cost of a professionally designed small business web site can run anywhere from $500 to $5000. To ensure you don’t overspend your budget, you need to get a written estimate. Depending on the complexity or your project, you may even have to pay to get an estimate. To get a complete picture of all costs involved, have them break out costs for domain name, hosting services, graphics, web development, and marketing fees separately.
Will you be required to put down a deposit? Some firms may ask for half of estimated fees up front as a deposit. What methods of payment do they accept? Will they accept credit cards or do you have to pay by cash or check?
Do they charge a flat rate or by the hour? Typical hourly web development fees can range from $30 to $200 per hour. But beware: cheaper is not always better! Whatever the hourly rate; make sure it is justified by the amount of experience and skill set they bring to the plate. While a designer who charges $30 an hour might seems like a deal at first, it might take them twice as long to accomplish a task.
What items will cost you “extra”? If there are items that will NOT be included in the estimate which will be additional, make sure to get the ala carte pricing. And finally, find out what the costs for web site maintenance will be when the site is complete. If you will be updating your site frequently, this ongoing cost is an important one to keep in mind.
7) TIME FRAME OF COMPLETION
Ask how long the web development process will take. And then you may want to ask their references how close they came to completing the project on target. A simple web site could be developed in one or two weeks, while a larger more intense site could take several weeks or months. Knowing what to expect can help you manage your expectations.
8) FULL RANGE OF SERVICES
Does the developer offer a full range of web site services? Will your web developer help you: acquire a domain name, set up a web hosting account, market your web site, write copy, and/or provide cgi and database programming?
Working with a developer who can handle all these details will save you time, money, and frustration. You can rely on their expertise to handle some of the more technical questions that may arise. If they don’t provide these services, then ask if they have companies that they recommend. Be sure to get prices from those vendors too so that the total web sites costs don’t sneak up on you.
Are they a full time web developer or is web design a moonlighting job for them? A full time developer will probably be able to complete your site in a shorter time frame than someone who is squeezing you into his or her spare time. What are their hours? Are they open to you calling with questions? Can they start your project right away? If you need maintenance down the road, how soon can you expect changes after you submit them?
10) PROFESSIONAL, ORIGINAL WEB SITE GRAPHICS
The ability to create professional, original web graphics will quickly distinguish the Cousin-Jim-Bob-amateur-designer–wanna-be’s from the pros. Anyone can put words on a page and create links. But, only a skilled designer will have a good sense of page layout, how to create a good color scheme, and be able to create tasteful graphics that will enhance the web site.
Take a look at other sites the designer has created. Do they demonstrate a considerable range of “styles” or do they use templates? Do the web sites feature original web graphics? If you want a one of a kind web site to brand your business, you must insist on original graphics for your web site. Can they create “extras” such as flash, animation, or mouseover effects are you up-to-date with the latest trends in web design?
At Ktmfreelancer, we have a team of highly skilled Developers and Programmers to take care of your job very well.
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