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What to Look For in a Website Designer

You've written a book and want to promote it. You're starting a new business and want to attract new customers. You have an established business and wish to retain current patrons and tap into the growing world of Internet commerce. You need a website, but you have no idea how to design or maintain one. There is no shame in admitting that you need assistance with website design and development. True, you may feel behind the times when middle school children are launching sites with ease, but remember that not all websites are the same, and not all websites are designed for the same purpose.

The flashy, graphics-intensive look of a personal site may not suit the needs of a business, while a catalog site with extensive programming may be too much for what is essentially an online calling card. The first important step toward building an online presence is to know what your website needs to do for you and your products. With the proper guidance of a competent, efficient website designer, you can achieve the perfect look and functionality for your brand. But, with so many website design companies in business, how do you know which one is the right one to work for you? As with choosing any service provider, a number of factors should be taken into consideration before hiring somebody to create your online headquarters. With dedicated research, you can find the perfect fit.

Here are just a few things to look for when scouting potential web designers: Web Presence What does the website of the design company look like? Does it load quickly, and is the design attractive and effective? Is it simple to navigate? Is it loaded with ads, or is there relevant content available? Check to see if there is an available portfolio of clients, and visit those sites as well. You may need to do some personal evaluation to determine if a particular client has a website appropriate for its purpose, or if it looks like it has been overdone with unnecessary bells and whistles. Contact a few clients and inquire about their relationships with their designers. Check also for an About Us section with information on the company and its employees.

What professional qualifications are included? How long has the company been in business? Is there a rate card available on site? Not every company will publish hard numbers, as custom design can vary according to a client's needs, but one good thing to look for is a base minimum price set by the company. This will help you determine if the company is too high-end for your budget. Customer Service Does the company's website have easy to find contact information? How quickly do they respond to an e-mail or phone query? Test the possibility of a few design companies with a general query, then make note of the timeliness and personable qualities of each reply. Are some e-mails more like form letters? If you are interested in maintain a constant, personal relationship with your website designers, you may want to consider the ease with which you can contact them. While an immediate automated response might not indicate the company is too busy to contact you, prolonged neglect should answer your question.

When you meet with potential firms, take into consideration their interest in you. Are they genuinely interested in your project, or does it seem like they want to sell you more functionality and services you neither need nor want? Website design companies offer different services like hosting, online marketing, and ongoing maintenance, so naturally it is in the best interest of such a company to promote these services. As you do your research, you may find you need some extras, but don't feel pressured into anything you are certain you don't need. Inquire about custom pricing for combination packages, and test the company's flexibility. You will know if they truly want to aid your vision or are just interested in the sale. Location Where is the company located? Are they local or within the state? If you are interested in maintain close contact with a website designer, it would be recommended to find one you can visit if needed.

Scout local website firms and note their locations. Does the company have an office, or is it a sole proprietorship operated out of a private home? Will the designer meet with you personally when you wish? What kind of equipment is used in design? Are employees in-house, or do they depend upon third party freelance work? If you are looking for immediacy in design and maintenance, this may be a deciding factor. With so many potential companies to design your website, it may seem like a daunting take to whittle the choices down to one. Yet, with diligent research and a knack for personal intuition, you can find the proper designer to create your online presence and foster your brand.

Kathryn Lively writes for CINIVA Systems , an award-winning Virginia Beach website design company.

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