Informational Web Sites
So you hired someone, now you can sit back, relax and wait for your site to be up and running and it should only take a day or two - right?
Ahem... Not quite. At least not if you hired a professional web designer/programmer. Many of my clients are initially surprised at the amount of work involved on both our parts. Your input every step of the way is vital to achieving the final presentation as you envision it.
Most designers/programmers will start by asking a series of questions. We need to understand what kind of tools you will need to help your (our) customers. We also need at least a few live web site examples that touch on aspects (visual and functional) that you envision for your own site. This helps us ensure that we are both on the same page because often the work of getting everything created for you is performed long distance.
Image ContentIf you want your designer/programmer to supply image content for you, most will make several attempts to create and send samples for your approval. These samples might be custom creations or stock images they have access to depending on your agreement. Sometimes the images selected will need to be purchased from a 3rd party provider such as Shutterstock or IStock.
If after several attempts to locate images for your website, you feel that there just is not a match, many designers/programmers may request that you send them images that you would like incorporated. If that becomes the case for your website, they should also request to know the source of the images you provide. This protects both of you and ensures that the image is being used legally.
Text ContentAs for text content, unless you also hired a professional marketer, most web designers/programmers will request that you (1) supply text content and (2) specify which page(s) it should appear on and where (assuming there is more than one). That's because experienced web designers/hosts know that (1)often clients will want to incorporate words that are spelled non-traditionally (EX. Katz instead of Cats) and (2) if they supply this then they become accountable for how your website presents its message to your visitors.
From the template creation (look and feel) to the text content, your involvement is critical to the outcome being what you want it to be. The difference it makes is the difference between that feeling of "Well, this is not exactly what I hoped for, but it works" and "Wow!!! This is even better than I ever thought it would be!!".
Selecting a Developer & DesignerIf you are not up to the task of creating it, it's time to select a programmer & designer. Wait! Aren't these the same? My clients ask this question a lot. There is a difference between these...
A designer is someone who is focused on the artistic appearance of your website. They create the images colors and graphics that make your site look the way you want it too. These are the creative artists of the world who can create a jaw dropping logo with just one or two sentences about your company.
A programmer is the person who brings life to your site and makes it "work". When you click on a link and suddenly a new page opens, a programmer wrote the code to make that happen.
There are many that try to offer both of these skills, but bear in mind most do not have a high degree of proficiency in both skills.
So, what should you look for when deciding to hire someone? Here are a few tips:
- When you contact a perspective designer/programmer via email or phone, how responsive are they? Are your questions answered in an easy to understand manner? If they need to get back to you with an answer, do they follow up quickly?
- Do they use words that you or anyone else can understand when offering an explanation? You should never feel more confused after asking for clarification.
- Review a perspective designer/programmer's portfolio. If no portfolio is available, run! Just kidding, there might be a good reason, but proceed carefully.
- Ask if references are available and contact them.
- Is there a good personality match? Each designer/programmer has a different personality and approach. It's important to work with someone who has a style that matches your needs.
- Are they willing to provide educational resources if you request them? Correction: This should always be offered!
- Are their payment terms reasonable or are they asking for 100% of the project costs up front with zero exceptions? Ouch! I can already feel the flames from other professionals offering these services... Most professionals are open to starting your project for 50% down with the remaining balance due at completion. There are exceptions, for example, I offer a percent discount to clients who opt to pay in full up front. Note the word option. The point is, if you are working with a Designer or Programmer who is not in an established location near you, be very cautious if up front payment in full is a requirement.
- Be wary of promises that sound too good to be true. I see this most often regarding SEO, search engine optimization. Promises may be made such as, "For just $___ per month, our company will ensure that your website will be result number one!" The fact of the matter is, with simple, clean organic SEO your site will recieve an honest ranking in search results that can be built on and improved over time. Unless you have the budget of Amazon.com, it is unrealistic to expect an instant number one listing position.
- Last, but not least, trust your instincts when making a hiring decision and don't forget to ask your network connections for their recommondations.
Whether you are considering a website for personal or business purposes, a little advance planning goes a long way! My clients have found these resources to be very helpful. Most are a quick read and could save you a lot of time down the road.