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Choosing A Web
Designer: A Plan To Guide You Through The Minefield
|Choosing a web
designer can seem like a daunting task. They come in all shapes
and sizes – from freelancers working at home to glossy new media
agencies, and there is as much variation in prices and service
as there is in size.
So how do you choose the right one for your business?
Select Your Marketplace
Firstly, decide what market your would like to select from: local , national
If you would feel more comfortable meeting your designer, and running
through your project face to face (maybe it’s the kind of
project that needs to “evolve”) ,and your ethos is “quality of
service” rather than “Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” then a
local web designer is for you. They can usually provide better
back up, and be able to meet face to face to discuss your
project and iron out any problems should they occur.
If you are a bit more budget conscious, then it makes sense to select from a
“wider pool”. Getting quotes from designers across your country
will usually obtain a more competitive quote. What you lose in
face-to-face service is made up for in cost savings, and all but
the largest web projects can usually be sorted out via telephone
and email these days.
For the extremely cost conscious and value for money orientated (some would
even say “brave”!) there is the overseas market. If you know
exactly what you are looking for and can explain your project
thoroughly and clearly in writing, then there are huge savings
to be made. But what you save in price is invariably countered
by having to do a little more work on your side – particularly
when it comes to communication!
Finding Web Designers
To find a list of local web designers consult your Yellow Pages (or
equivalent) or do a web search for “web designer “ “your area”.
Looking further a field, you can do a web search or check out
directories such as www.recommended-web-designers.co.uk . For
overseas designers, go to web sites such as www.elance.com or
www.rentacoder.com, the latter offering the benefit of escrow
and arbitration services.
Draw up a shortlist
Draw up a shortlist of 3 or 4 designers to speak to. You can do this by
visiting their websites, getting a feel for the type and size of
business they are and looking at their online portfolio. Then
call them – ask them questions about the type of clients they
work for, timeframes and any other technical questions you have.
Get a feel for how they communicate – whether they are on the
same wavelength as you.
If you opted to go overseas, the websites already mentioned have ratings
systems which can help you decide, and you can also send and
receive private messages to ask questions.
Once you have your shortlist, you can get quotes. For a straightforward
website this can be a simple fixed price – for a more
complicated project that is likely to evolve, you may just want
to get a budget price at this stage, and then pin down details
and a fixed price with your preferred bidder later. Always
specify your expected timeframe for completion when obtaining
quotes as this can affect prices.
Once you have your preferred bidder, get references. Any established web
designer will be able to provide details of satisfied clients.
Email them and ask if they were happy with the service received,
if the job was completed on time, how unforeseen problems were
dealt with etc.
Remember to trust your instincts: If you are not entirely happy with the
references you obtain, walk away and select another designer.
Appoint your web designer
You now have a fixed price, references, and confirmed timescale for your
project. Now appoint your designer!
Most have standard agreements –read them carefully, and if in doubt get your
legal adviser to look them over. Make sure timescales and
project milestones are specified, as well as payment terms. Find
out how alterations to your project are dealt with – in terms of
cost and delays – and how disputes if they arise would be
Finally, when you are completely happy, sign on the dotted line and look
forward to a productive working relationship with your web
© 2005 Robin Porter.
About the author:
Robin Porter has been CEO of of London based web designer Arpey
Internet (http://www.arpey.co.uk) for over six years.