Your web site is your storefront window on the World Wide Web. It must grab the viewer's attention and be clear, all in a matter of seconds. Otherwise, it's onto the next site listed on the search engine.
Choosing the best person to create your new web site is one of the most important tasks a business must undertake. It is also one of the most difficult because of the amount of freelance designers, advertising agencies, public relation firms and web development consultants flooding the market. Following are a few helpful hints to make sure you select the right web designer.
Why Hire a Professional Web Designer?
Let me phrase the question another way, 'Why post your billboard in woods'? Most reputable web designers know a thing or two about search engines ... but that's not enough to put your business on the map when it comes to search engine results. What you want is a professional designer who knows how to build a 'search engine friendly' web site.
The key between the two professionals is one will build you a web site with pretty pictures, text links and a welcome page that leaves you invisible to search engines, while the other will do the same thing but with the coding and programming that makes your web site irresistible to search engines. The difference between selling and not selling on the web, and being found or buried on page 15 of the search engine results, is knowledge in building a search engine friendly site.
Create a Web Site Requirements List
If you're looking for a 'one-stop-shop-solution' you should have a solid project plan in place. This will save you money, time and effort in the long run. Browse the Internet and create a list of web sites that have the general look and feel of how you envision your own web site. Note the things you like about each of the sites. You are essentially compiling a list of the 'best of the best' features you want to incorporate into your new web site.
If you are shopping for web design quotes, don't forget to ask the web design vendor some basic questions:
* Do you provide client references?
* Will I be able to edit my own web pages?
* Are the web sites you design search engine friendly?
* Is logo design included in the web quote?
* How many design concepts and revisions will you provide?
Avoid the Template Trap
The problem with Web templates is that they are "closed systems." Usually navigation placement is hard coded so that custom programming or effects are not allowed or easily configured. Every month someone will call us to complain that their 'template based web site' looks horrible, or the web template system is too hard to use or understand. A great example of cookie-cutter, web template web sites abound in the field of real estate. All these sites look the same. Why on earth would a real estate agent not want to stand out from the crowd in such a highly competitive online field? The bottom line is, stay away from templates. They're cheap in cost and cheap in delivery.
Establish a Web Production Budget
The web design process ranges from the novice who spends a few hours putting together sites of amateur quality, to high-end quality web projects that result in a world-class web presence. If you plan on spending $400 on your web site, don't waste your time or money. Your site will most likely look cheap, be an embarrassment and actually hurt your business and image. Better off to stay as you were.
However, when you're serious about launching a Web site to grow your business, you can do it without mortgaging your house. Here are some facts and figures from across the U.S. to consider when putting together the budget for your web site.
Small business Web sites - $2800 to $3900
Small business e-commerce Web sites - $3600 to $4200
Medium business Web sites - $3800 to $5200
Medium business e-commerce Web sites - $4200 to $7200
Large business Web sites - $7200 to $10,000
Large business e-commerce Web sites - $9200 to $15,000
A well-crafted web site can bring you new or additional online traffic resulting in new clients and customers. First impressions matter, so work with your web designer to capture the image or branding that you want to convey to your Internet visitors.
Now that you understand the basic principles of finding a professional web site design company, submit your request for design quotes online and compare what you are getting for the cost.