Step 1. Planning
While searching for the right web designer, it is important to have a clear idea what role your new Web site will fill. Will it provide information to your customers? Will it serve the needs of your employees? Or will it include an online shopping section so that you can sell your products to visitors?
Most Web designers will need to know the following:
- The role of your new Web site.
- The intended market or audience of your Web site.
- Your budget.
Take time to consider what you expect from your Web site and the type of information you want to communicate to your potential clients before you approach your designer. This will save you and the designer a considerable amount of time and effort.
Step 2. Compile a list of web designers
Creating a list of web designers will allow you to view a range of different designs and find the styles you like. Here are some techniques to help you in your search:
- Search for website designers on the Internet. Browse through Web sites specifically devoted to online design. Choose and compare at least three Web site designers to get an overall picture of what is available.
- Check out a range of industry related Web sites. Spend some time looking at other Web sites that may be related or similar to your industry, choose a few different Web sites that you admire and look for the Web design firm in the list of credits or contact the organization and ask for information about the designer. You could also find out if that organization is happy with the level of service they received.
- Referrals: Ask friends, family and co-workers whom they used to design their Web site. Ask them if they were satisfied with the service they received and if the completed designs were what they expected. Ask if they feel they received value for money.
Step 3. Create a shortlist
From your initial list, determine which Web design service is best suited to your requirements and your project. The following guide will help you to choose three to six designers:
- Examine their work: survey the projects in the portfolio and check for consistent quality.
- Ask who is responsible for the portfolio pieces you like the most, and check that these designers are still available.
- Ask if the Web design service has created solutions for businesses similar to yours.
- Learn about their design process.
- Find out if the Web design service offers a standard process for developing Web sites.
- Notice whether they take the time to understand your Web site goals and offer a solid planning proposal.
- Find out what other products/services the firm can offer.
- Look for added-value products or extra services.
- Make contact with the Web design firms that are on your shortlist.
Step 4. Secure quotes from each design service
Obtain quotes from the remaining design services so you can compare the quality of design and service to make an informed decision.
- Select the Web designers you feel offer the best Web design options and services.
- Supply the same information to each Web design firm and ask for a quote.
- Make sure their quote includes an overview of your requirements, a description of their development process and their Web solutions for your business. That way, you can determine if they understand your requirements.
- Ask for a breakdown of costs so you can compare cost against other proposals.
Step 5. Evaluate the proposals
Time spent reviewing and comparing each proposal will help you decide which design service is best suited to your business requirements.
- Examine each proposal individually.
- Evaluate how well the Web design firm presents its proposal.
- Keep a checklist for each proposal; look for strengths and weaknesses.
- Compare each proposal — compare the presentation and the content and check if they satisfy your business needs and goals.
- Contact the successful design firm and tell them the good news. But make sure to negotiate a favorable contract.
- Once you have made your decision, advise the design firms that did not succeed and let them know why you decided not to choose their proposal.