Web design

How To Choose A Web Designer

A little while back I had a bit of a discussion about a certain profession that
I will not mention here in case someone from the industry in question takes it
the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, every major profession is there for a reason
and adds a tremendous amount of value to society. The fact of the matter is that
every industry and profession has good aspects and bad. When you think of a doctor,
lawyer, architect, accountant, etc, you tend to have a personal frame of reference,
as well as a more widely held stereotype. There are usually some aspects of that
profession that irritate you, or that you think could do with some improvement.
Perhaps you don’t make use of certain professional services because of these perceptions,
whether or not they are commonly held or based on fact.

That got me thinking about my own industry, and what it is about the internet
consulting and Singapore web design and development industry that drives people nuts,
and that if things were different, people would utilize these services more
often. What would people change about the industry if they had a magic wand?
What would you do differently if you were, for example, a web developer, to
differentiate yourself?

These are some of the things I have been told hold people back when discussing
this topic with some small businesses:

Web design Singapore and development is too expensive for the average small business

– Apprehension over how qualified an internet professional really is

– There is too much jargon in the industry, which makes it confusing to assess
as a non-technical business person

– There is a shortage of internet programming skills relative to web design company singapore
skills in the industry

Personally, my big wish is that a certain level of qualification (a degree
combining computer science, design and business) was a requirement to practice,
the same way that older professions are required to, like accountants, doctors,
lawyers, etc. The low barrier to entry makes it difficult for businesses to
distinguish experts from hobbyists. Imagine having to choose your doctor based
on what he tells you he knows how to do for you!

So, how then does one assess a potential internet partner, who can and should
be a long-time partner in the online success of your business? Here are some
things to look at carefully when choosing a Singapore web design, web developer, internet
business consultant, or related service provider, from my experience:

Technical and business qualifications and experience. Is the business comprised
of an inexperienced person with a web design hobby, or has the business got
people with tertiary level business, programming and design skills in-house?
Make sure they have real-world business experience in developing e-commerce
solutions, and look into how far back that goes.

What online business applications has the business developed previously, and
how does this match your requirements? Some web design businesses will give
you a very nice looking static brochure site, while others will be able to offer
advanced functionality, such as a database and content management capabilities,
e-commerce functionality, internet business consulting services, site promotion,
site management, hosting, domain registration, design, application development,
site optimization, newsletter systems, form processing capabilities, logging
of user activity, online surveys and polls, user registration and authentication,
advertising management, content syndication, and the like. Check how many of
these are optional extras an how many are included in the price you are quoted
up front. You should always get a detailed proposal up front, and compare apples
for apples rather than being too subjective initially. My business, for example,
differentiates by bundling over 250 enterprise-level applications into our small
business package, at a lower price than most web designers will charge just
for the design and some basic functionality.

Long term cost/benefit. What is it going to cost you the next time you need
to make a modification? I’ve never yet come across a successful website that
was designed and left as it was created on day one. Your site needs to change
with your business, so make sure you know how you will be billed for those changes,
and what the time frame for them will be. Every site also has hosting, bandwidth
and maintenance costs that most people don’t think of when first creating a
site. Look into what these will be, and what you get for them, so that you can
budget for them when starting your project. Also keep in mind that a cheap solution
with one or two features will probably not serve you as well as a slightly more
expensive one with extensive built-in capabilities.

Personal style and preference. Different businesses will bring different styles
and methodologies to the party. Make sure that the one you go with suits your
personal preferences. If your internet specialist loves graphic-intensive Flash-based
sites, they will probably develop your informative content-based solution, just
not as well as someone who specializes in your preferred style.

Online promotion. Make sure that the business you choose is good at promoting
their own online presence. Google, Yahoo, and MSN are the three most popular
search engines, so make use of them when choosing a provider. If you are looking
for a web developer in your local area, search for the terms you find most important
and include the name of your area. For example, I optimize my services for the
Joondalup area of Perth, Western Australia, so a search for “web design
Joondalup” or “web development Joondalup”, or many other internet-based
services, brings me to the top when people are searching for local service providers.
An internet business that is no good at promoting itself online will be worse
at helping you get yours up to full potential.

Satisfaction guarantees. No website can make a flawed business model work,
but an online expert should be able to help you make it everything it can be
over time, much the same way a personal trainer can’t make you fit overnight,
but they can help you become a top athlete with focused ongoing attention. Find
out what guarantees, if any, are provided. This is a real differentiator, because,
understandably, many web design businesses won’t do this. Those that do are
at least serious and confident in their abilities to ensure that their clients
are happy and successful.

Management of expectations. Any internet business that claims excessive short
term success rates is probably overselling themselves. Make sure that they (and
you) are realistic about the time frames in which your online presence will
start producing results.

Consulting skills. Make sure that you are dealing with an internet consultancy,
not just a web design house. Experienced internet consultants have the business
experience to help you make your business successful online in ways a web designer
will probably not.

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