Whatever your business – cookies, costumes or caterpillar tractors – you are excited about your company, you have a lot to offer clients, and you are ready to go online and see the business begin pouring in. Here’s an important consideration, however: should you design your own website? Do you have the time and expertise? Or would it be better to hire an expert web design company to step in and get your site up and running?
A great online presence is crucial to your company. There are over a million other competing sites and thousands appearing every day. You want yours to stand out and draw visitors who will be impressed enough to visit and come back again.
You also want to grow and expand. You could use a web design template (FrontPage, PageMill, Hot Dog Pro, GoLive Studio or HomePage are some which are available) but then you run the risk of a cookie cutter site similar to others who use the same templates. So the answer can only be “yes”. You really do need a professional web design company. Think of it this way: if you don’t know the first thing about fixing a major plumbing problem, wouldn’t you turn to a professional plumber rather than risk flooding your living room?
Here are some considerations when choosing a web designer:
1. Have a pretty good idea of what you want your site to look like. What features do you want? Do you want it to be informational? Of local interest? Interactive? For a specific audience? Even sketch out what you want so when you do choose your designer, they have a starting point.
2. Visit their home page. Do you like what you see? Is it attractive and easy to navigate? If they haven’t designed their own site to attract and generate business, how will they be able to do it for you?
3. Visit lots of other sites to see what is out there and what you might like. If possible, visit other sites the company you’re considering has designed.
4. How much experience do they have? It’s great to give your business to a friend or relative, but your business depends on how well you present your ideas. It is not worth it to skimp in this area. You want the best you can afford.
5. And speaking of affordability, how much will the designer charge? Is it within your budget? Does it seem reasonable as far as their experience is concerned? What are they able to provide? A single website page can run anywhere from $75 to thousands of dollars.
6. Is the designer current with technology? What was great two years ago may well be outdated.
7. Are they also up to date with search engine placement? They should know what design techniques are favored by major internet search engines.
8. Are they willing to meet a deadline and not exceed your budget? Consider a contract.
9. They should present you with a proposal. What will they provide for their pay? Will they maintain the site, or provide artwork?
10. Do they have adequate references? You need to know if they will follow through and meet a deadline. They must be reliable.
The purpose of a web site is to provide content that people want, that will keep them coming back. Professional web designers know graphics and design styles, are able to engineer navigation of online information and keep up with new products. They should be able to guide you as to what will keep people coming back. For instance, some people want simple instead of animated gifs and flash media. And do you want to include guest book, a counter or an email feedback form?
This is your business we’re talking about here. Your web site is the first thing people will see and they will base their opinion on this first impression. Remember or, you don’t get a second chance to make a good impression!