website design

What should you look for in a Website Designer?

Choosing a website designer that you can work with is very important. Creating a website can be a wonderful experience, or a headache, depending on who you choose to work with.

One of the most important things you need to do is find is a website designer that you get along with and who listens to you. They should also offer a contract so that both of you have a clear understanding of what will be done and what everything will cost.

Talk with the designer. If they are in your area, meet them face-to-face. However, it's not necessary that the designer be in your city. I have clients all over the world. Even though I live in Arizona, in the past month I've had clients from New Jersey, Chino Valley (a hour and a half drive from me), and I have some potential clients in Arkansas and New Zealand. You need to feel at ease with the designer since you will be dealing with them for weeks or months while your site is created, and maybe longer if they are going to maintain the site for you.

Ask what program they use to create their websites. The most popular are GoLive and Dreamweaver. I would suggest avoiding anyone using FrontPage. A lot of people use it and like it, especially since it costs less than $100. However, it writes HTML a little differently than other programs, which may lead to problems. These problems include HTML errors as well as adding extra code, which causes pages to load slower. Some web hosts can't even put up sites made with FrontPage. Website designers who use FrontPage often use the templates that come with it, thus limiting the creativity that could be used on your site. It's not uncommon for me to look at a website and instantly know that it's been created with FrontPage. If you're wondering, I use Adobe Go Live.

You want to be sure that the website designer asks a lot of questions about what you want and need, instead of trying to talk you into using what they offer. Your website should meet your needs and expectations, not only in function but also in design. I've seen websites designed using flash animation, ASP databases and all kinds of bells and whistles when this wasn't appropriate for that particular site. These also kept many people with older browsers and slow Internet connections from being able to see the website. These bells and whistles also cost more than a simpler HTML site. The designer used these things because that's what they liked to use, not because it's what should have been used. Simple is always better when it comes to website design. Content is king, not animation, graphics or anything else.

When looking for a website designer, ask these questions.
* Are the web pages they design easy to use? They should have a page on their site with links to the sites they have created so you can check this out.
* Is the website, and its pages, organized in a logical manner?
* Do the pages, especially ones with graphics, load quickly? A page should load in 20 seconds or less on a dial-up connection.
* Are the main points of a page (products and services offered) easy to find, and do they stand out?
* Does the website entice visitors to take some kind of action (buy or use something)?
* Contact people they have created sites for to see how they were to work with. You can usually do this by e-mailing their clients and asking these questions. "How well is the site working for you? Did they meet deadlines? Does the website work properly? Was the estimate accurate? Did they do any follow-up to be sure everything was working properly? Are they easy to get a hold of if anything needs to be fixed or updated?"
* Ask if the site will be usable on browsers other than Internet Explorer. Some other common browsers are Mozilla (I use this), Opera and Netscape. Your site should also be usable on older version of all these browsers.

Don't be intimidated, know what you want and shop around until you find a designer that can do what you need.

You usually get what you pay for. The lowest price may not be the best choice for you. I had someone call me today who was happy to pay my $60 an hour rate because of the nightmare they were having with their current designer who charged $25 an hour.

Know what pages you want on your site and what you need it to do for you. Are you going to sell a product or service? Do you want it to be a portfolio for your artwork or photographs? Think carefully about what you want and write it out so you can give a copy to the designer.

If you have a deadline, let the designer know to be sure they can meet that deadline.

It can be helpful to have a list of a few websites that are similar to what you want yours to look like. This will give you a clearer picture of what you want, and the designer can see what you like.

You are going to spend time and money creating this site, and you have a need that this site must meet, so be sure you get what you expect. Feel free to ask all the questions you want and to have everything clear in your mind. Then you can make an informed decision, and soon you will be using the Internet for the amazing tool that it is.






website design