Website Design

Website Design

Top 10 Web Designer Traits to Look For (and Avoid)

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Time to update your web site? Want an eye-catching site that turns visitors into real sales prospects? There are millions of web designers out there who want your business – here are the top 10 attributes you should look for in a web designer and the danger signs that should warn you away.

  1. Experienced in your type of site
    Look for web designers who have created sites like yours in the past. It doesn't have to be the exact same business, but sites in similar industries or services can at least prove that the designer is capable of producing something appropriate for your potential visitors.
    Danger sign: has created lots of flashy personal web sites, but none for businesses.

  2. Listens to your needs and responds
    This can be one of the hardest traits to find in web designers: it's easy for talented graphic designers to put too much emphasis on what they want to do, and not enough on what's right for your business. You can see some of this in your earliest conversations with web designers: make sure they're really paying attention to what you're asking for and providing detailed responses.
    Danger sign: already seems to have a design in mind for your site before you've finished describing your business.

  3. Demonstrates a varied portfolio
    Checking out web designers' portfolios of sites they've worked on is an essential part of making your decision, but what should you look for? The best sign that a web designer can create the look that's right for you is that their sites have very different looks. This demonstrates that they can match their design to the needs of each client.
    Danger sign: without knowing in advance, you could tell that every site in their portfolio was designed by the same person.

  4. Understands web design and usability
    While your web designer doesn't have to be a developer, they should understand exactly what options are available for online design and how to design a site that is easy to use. Make sure that they talk about designing the site so your most important information is easy to find, works across all major web browsers, and loads quickly.
    Danger sign: they want to create an animated Flash intro. With sound.

  5. Understands customer service
    One weakness of many good designers (as well as experts in other fields) is that while they are very good at the main skill required by their job – as shown by an outstanding portfolio – they fall short in other important areas of business. Customer service is a good example: ask the designers how you can get in touch with them and when, as well as how long you can expect to wait before you hear back.
    Danger sign: "Oh, you don't need the phone number – you can email me any time."

  6. Provides good references
    As with any important business purchase, checking references is essential when choosing a web designer. Call at least a few references for each web designer you interview and ask about their overall experience, their attitude and professionalism, and the final results.
    Danger sign: want to just take you to the web sites of companies they've worked for.

  7. Negotiates and deals professionally
    Discussing money doesn't come naturally to many web designers who aren't expert businesspeople, but it's part of the job description, especially for freelancers. Look for designers who are up front about costs, willing to discuss discounts or extras, and use professional contracts, not handshake agreements.
    Danger sign: when you ask how much the project will cost, they quote a price that's less than half what most of your prospective designers have said. (Expect overruns and add-on costs later.)

  8. Sticks to deadlines
    It's important to get your web site done on time – projects that drag on longer than they should become a drag on productivity. Find out what kind of timeline the designers can commit to, including dates for mockups, revisions, final concept, and delivery of all materials. Ask what steps they take to make sure they meet their deadlines.
    Danger sign: "You can't rush creativity, man."

  9. Works the way you want
    While all web designers have their own methods and preferred communication styles, you're the client. If you need the designer to present their ideas face to face to your internal team, let them know about that requirement up front. If you expect to go back and forth regularly with changes and new ideas, make sure they're willing to work that way.
    Danger sign: tells you how many times you're allowed to change your mind.

  10. Won't leave you hanging
    One of the best ways to get the most out of your investment in web site design is to update the site regularly with new, fresh content. Whether you handle the basic updates yourself or contract with the designer to make them, you may encounter situations where you need more than a basic update: a new image, a fix to an order form, or a new page or two to reflect your changing business. Make sure the designer will be available for these kinds of situations, either on a standing contract or on an a la carte basis.
    Danger sign: "But after it's finished, why would you need me?"

Now that you know what to look for in a web designer, submit a free request for web design quotes through BuyerZone and get matched up to as many as six different web designers.

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