How To Choose A Web Designer

The reason that so many small business websites don’t generate business, is because they were built by the wrong person. This post explains how to choose a website designer because is vital you find someone who knows how to create a business website, and not just a plain designer.

There are two ways to select a suitable person or company, and in this post I’ll explain both.

Firstly I explain how to find the right web designer through recommendation. If you can’t be absolutely sure about a recommendation, you’ll need help making the choice on your own. After that I explain how to choose a web designer on your own.

How To Choose A Web Designer By Recommendation

Few business owners are experts in websites and how to make them work for business. This makes it very difficult to assess different designers. It therefore makes sense to ask around for recommendations from people you trust. However, you still need to be sure a recommendation is right for you and your business.

Recommendations Must Be Based On Relevant Experience

Firstly, who to ask. For a recommendation to be meaningful it must come from someone with relevant experience. This means that they should be someone like yourself—in business—and ideally a similar business. Their recommendation will only be worthwhile if what they have achieved is similar to what you need. For example, do you just need a nice looking website, or one that will generate business in a particular kind of market. If the latter, you should only take recommendations from someone with a similar and sufficiently successful website.

You probably don’t want to end up with a designer who created a nice looking website that isn’t generating business! So how to ensure that a recommendation is right for you?

Ask About The Working Relationship

Ask them about the designer and the design process, cost, how it worked and so on. But don’t stop there.

Ask About Ongoing Marketing

You must also ask what happened after the website was finished. Ask how many visitors the website started with and how long it took to start generating business. Do they in fact know how much business is coming from the website! If a business is busy, people don’t tend to be so concerned with where the business is coming from. Perhaps they’re actually getting business from other sources and not much from the website.

If it is the website, how did they achieve this? How do they measure results, how did things change over time, what was done to produce the growth?

Make Sure Their Experience Is Relevant To You

Make sure the website it delivering on their aims in a way that would work for you. Let’s face it, if they are selling DVDs, and you are offering talking-therapy, the same web designer might not be right for both kinds of business.

What To Do If You Are Still Not Sure

Clearly a recommendation might give false reassurance. So if you are not sure you are will need to be careful. Too often in this situation, people make a choice based on a combination of price and superficial factors such as whether the web designer’s portfolio of websites looks good.

By all means take the designer’s portfolio into account. A professional looking website will help after all, but be aware that good designers can create rubbish websites from the point of view of attracting visitors or generating business.

Skilled Designers Often Create Rubbish Business Websites

A web designer knows about design, and might create a website that looks amazing on the surface, but if the website doesn’t generate business your time and money will have been wasted. This is because there are many other factors that contribute to success.

How To Choose A Website Designer On Your Own

Unfortunately there are a lot of designers who went into website work, but have not moved on since the days when creating a few pages was all that was needed to generate business. Those days are gone, so there is now much more to making a website successful. There is too much competition, and far too many ways to go wrong, for design skill alone to deliver even a passable small business website.

You will need to find someone who understands more than website design. You need a designer who doesn’t just stop at creating the website, but can explain how you’re going to get from that point to making it work for your business.

 This means you need a designer who also has expertise in online marketing, takes the time to understand your business and can advise on what will be most effective in your situation. Someone who can select and advise on appropriate implementation technology, and refer you elsewhere if that is outside what they offer. You need someone who keeps their knowledge up-to-date by doing ongoing work in all these areas.

Think Web Marketeer First, And Web Designer Second

It is relatively easy for you to judge whether the designer you are considering can deliver something that looks and works the way you want. Just look at their portfolio, ask for examples etc. What is harder, is for you to judge how effective those websites are at generating business.

If a designer just designs websites and doesn’t get involved in helping their clients with marking, they will never learn what works and what doesn’t, and what they do know will soon be out of date.

 The safest way is therefore to find someone who’s marketing expertise you trust, someone who demonstrates their ability to market at least if not more prominently than their website design expertise. Unfortunately, marketing expertise tends to be  more expensive than hiring someone who can create a nice looking, but otherwise useless website. This is one reason so many people end up wasting their money on a website that doesn’t work.
 
It takes time and a variety of experience to become a good marketeer, and to understand how to make this work successfully online, what will make a website work and so on. Whereas almost anyone can quickly learn to create a professional looking website these days.
 
If you follow my advice, you should find someone with the right blend of expertise, who caters for your budget and your kind of business, and is skilled in creating websites that work. In my case, I love to do small projects, and to have an ongoing relationship with my clients. So I provide a mixture of online marketing services and website design that I make affordable for very small businesses.

The Right Person Will Help Make Your Website Successful

To create a successful small business website, you’ll need someone who understands technology, implementation, marketing, SEO, and so on. A whole range of skills are needed.

Secondly, you need someone who will take the time to get to know you and your business. Someone who doesn’t expect you to choose on the basis of a portfolio, but can explain what is right for you, how they’ll do it, and why it will work this way and not that. One way I achieve this is by suggesting small steps rather than one big leap, so the client and I can get to know each other before embarking on a large piece of work.

I advise you not to choose someone who specialises in building websites, but to make sure they also offer ongoing marketing services, that they understand and keep up with the technology. That’s the only way a website designer can know what will and won’t work for you.

It goes without saying that those TV adverts for websites you can build yourself are too unlikely to work either. If that worked I’d be out of work pretty quickly, so before wasting your time, check with someone who you trust and is sure about what will work for you.

 What Is Your Experience Of Getting A Website

If you have a business website designed for you I’d be interested to hear how you got on, what you discovered and whether you concur with what I’ve described or if your experience was different.

I’m always learning and love to hear your experiences, so leave me a comment if you like. And if you’d like help creating a successful website get in touch.

I create websites for business, and am experienced in all areas and been involved in website design since 1994, as well as selling from my websites since the late 1990’s. Things have changed somewhat since then, but I love keeping up with new developments, and contributing a few of my own!

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