Monthly Archives: April 2018

How to Create Good Web Design

There are many different types of web design, from those built using website templates and ‘build your own’ site building applications to complex content managed and e-commerce web designs such as those used by big brand names like Amazon, eBay and Tesco. Some companies, even some big name companies, have unprofessional looking and badly designed websites. Some have amazing looking websites but because of their high graphical content and minimal text content can take an age to load, are not user friendly and do not provide what the visitor wants.

Good Website Design

Though many aspects of website design differ from site to site, many things remain the same throughout the majority of websites on the internet. Most notably is the navigation or menu. The way in which a website’s menu works and looks is very important, as ultimately, visitors to a website are looking for certain criteria that will make them either stay and interact or leave. This ability for a website to keep visitors interested is sometimes referred to as stickiness. Visitors want an attractive visually exciting experience, but perhaps more importantly, they want ‘ease of use’. Website usability is a key factor for websites that want their visitors to stick around, make an enquiry and ultimately complete a transaction and order a product or service.

Easy to Use Web Design

Internet users tend to prefer easy to use websites, because they do not want to have to learn how to use a website every time they find a new one. They should be able to use a website after only a few seconds of looking around a homepage, any more and they will leave and browse elsewhere. The need for fast user interaction is vital and therefore having a fast loading website is also important for a website to succeed. Even with faster internet connections such as broadband, internet users don’t want to wait around.

Just imagine, if you go to a shop on the high street and are totally ignored by shop assistants at the counter for 5 minutes, even after you have made it clear you want help. There is a correlation here to how an internet user may feel, when they arrive at a website that has been poorly designed, is difficult to use, unfriendly and slow to load. Making sure that a website has been well thought out and designed with the user in mind, displays a company’s unique selling points within easily recognizable eye catching calls for action and has a clear, easy to use menu is key to its success.

Flash Web Design

With recent web design advancements, such as the introduction of Flash animation and high definition video content, impressive websites have been produced to take advantage of much higher levels of visual effects and interaction. However with this ‘high end’ web design, comes a price, more often than not, web designs which rely heavily upon Flash content are often ridiculously slow to load. They often have a progress bar, which slowly goes across the web browser to signify when the website will finish loading.

This is much like the progress bars that you may be familiar with if you use video editing or 3D rendering software, or if you use games consoles where they are displayed whilst you wait for games to load. Internet users on the whole do not want to wait 3 – 5 minutes for a web page to load even if it does feature high resolution images, animation or video. They want fast informative content rich websites. If they wanted to watch an animation or video they would watch TV.

Good Flash Web Design

This is not to say that Flash animation is all bad news and shouldn’t be used in web design. If used subtly and in small amounts it can make a website more visually appealing without slowing the load time down too much. Suitable uses for Flash animation in web design are things such as; Flash banner advertisements, Flash video and interactive Flash forms for online questionnaires or business presentations.

Using Flash for a whole website design however, is not such a good idea. It slows the user’s experience down because they have to wait for elements of it to load. Also, sites totally developed in Flash tend to use unfamiliar menu structures and features. This can confuse visitors who just want to quickly interact with the website and not be amazed by the way the menu animates. Just because you can do these things in Flash, it doesn’t mean they have any real working value in the real world. They may look pretty, but if they are not functional and only irritate the visitor then they have no real value.

Flash Web Design & SEO

Another argument against using Flash to create a whole website is that it dramatically reduces the effectiveness of your websites’ Search Engine Optimisation. Flash web designs are made up of one main file within a web page which search engines find difficult to index. This is because the text within them is usually graphical text and therefore is not usually accessible by search engines. Some recent developments allow some text to be displayed for search engines in Flash websites, but this is nowhere near as effective as text content within traditional HTML based websites.

Don’t Write Off Flash in Web Design

Although Flash does have its limitations it also has its good points if used correctly. For instance; Flash animation is usually smaller in file size than traditional gif animation and because of the way it is made the animation flows smoother than gif animation too. Having said this, I would recommend only using Flash in small areas within a site to compliment other imagery that makes up the overall design. Finding a balance between minimal graphical elements, imagery, Flash and good quality informative text is the key to a successful user friendly website. This isn’t to say that web design needs be boring. By working with quality web design companies there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a visually exciting, well designed, easy to use and successful website.

Visually Stimulating Web Design

When visitors first arrive at a website, they want to be impressed and engaged with what the website has to offer. This will be determined by the ways in which the web designer has laid out the website’s content text, images and features. Arranging elements such as imagery, text, graphics, flash and video in such a way as to keep the visitor interested in the website is the key to good web design. If a website has poor design and doesn’t grab the attention of the visitor in the first few seconds, then it may well be dismissed as just another average website. This ultimately means the visitor will go elsewhere to spend their time and, more importantly, money.

Good Web Design Layout

A lot of time and money is spent making sure that the right elements of websites are positioned in the right places. Companies spend large amounts of money conducting research into how internet users use their websites. This type of research shows where their visitors’ eyes concentrate the most, which elements of the website they click on first and generally how they interact and use their websites. Most internet users will look primarily from the top left either across the page, or down the left hand side of the web page through an internet browser via a computer, mobile phone or TV set.

I would hazard a guess, that they are looking for the company’s name or logo, their main selling points or slogans and then what the website has to offer in terms of what is featured in the menu. After which their eyes are probably drawn across the page content and over to the right hand side. Successful web design usually takes this into consideration and will ultimately affect the way a website looks.

There are of course rather famous exceptions to this rule for instance one rather well known search engine has a web design which is quite different. The main focus and core functionality in their web design is located right in the centre of the page. This however, isn’t any ordinary website with tens or even hundreds of pages of products and services to display, its main focus is its recognisable logo and of course its search box. It does however feature a small minimal menu across the top of the web design, which flows from left to right. So even they have taken onboard some of the research undertaken into internet users’ habits. If you go looking at websites after reading this article, I can guarantee that most of the web designs you’ll see, will have a left hand menu and a defined header bar with a company logo and slogan across it.

Web Designing Company

Today, the web designing company has come up as a great source of relief for all those business owners who find it hard to carry out the efficient promotion of their products and services. The Web Designing Services offered by different software firms have been of immense help to such business owners.

A web designing company hires both the web designers as well as the graphic designers. The web designers hired by a web designing company are well aware about all kinds of programming techniques which are essential in order to highlight a website in the best possible manner. These web designers offer efficient Web Designing Services which include features that are well capable of adding an extra tint of elegance and functionality to a website.

The graphic designers on the other hand are not entirely aware about all the programming techniques that are required in order to provide a new outlook to a website. The basic working of a graphic designer includes illustration (digital or fine art illustrations including painting), magazine layout and book layout, textile design (carpets, materials and upholstery), print design and advertisement design (concepts for advertising campaigns and silkscreen printing for clothing), video effects and editing (shooting and editing of corporate video and commercial video as well as special effects and animation). A graphic designer is not that much capable of designing the codes that are required for web designing.

The task of a web designer is absolutely different from that of a graphic designer. A web designer is involved in creating web pages for the internet. A web designer designs the graphical display of content and images which are further displayed on the internet in the form of web pages. A web designer uses different applications such as HTML, CSS, XHTML, JavaScript, PHP, Photoshop, and images such as JPG. The work of a web designer is more inclined towards the technical side. In contrast to the work of a web designer, the work of a graphic designer is extremely concise. A graphic designer may be unable to offer a shape to every thought of yours.

The Web Designing Services offered by different software firms include the working of both the web designers as well as the graphic designers. There are some firms which rely on hiring just the web designers for all the major programming activities. This is because the web designers not only possess the technical skills but are also aware about all the tricks that need to be implemented in order to enhance the ranking of a particular website.

Custom CMS Web Design Budget

Consider our expert custom CMS web design budget tips when asking for a quote on a new custom CMS website or the redesign of an existing site. A custom CMS content management system is a good choice to keep down future costs because you or a staff member may manage new site content without technical skills or paying each time for changes.

Web Design Price, Quality, and Value Compared

Our CMS Design Tip #1: Budget funds for as much quality as you can afford for the initial development and launch of your custom CMS web design.

Like any consumer product, paying more for quality that lasts provides value for money spent. This is true for a custom CMS web design, also. To establish a design budget our advice for analyzing web design prices may help you avoid the mistakes others make.

Value depends on quality, so an expensive price for a nice looking website could be misleading. A cheap price even though nice looking could be a mistake, also. If you look for the cheapest price and lack the technical skills to analyze quality, you may end up with a clunker that just doesn’t perform. Websites and knockoff consumer products can appear like the real deal until they fall apart.

A quick test of quality for any website is to validate the code, so Google the phrase “validate html” to locate the free W3C online tool. Check out a potential designer’s work by testing their design. If the site is in xhtml and complies to W3C without errors, that’s a good indicator the designer cares about quality. The next tip provides more advice for evaluating a CMS web designer.

Choices When Selecting a CMS Web Designer

Our CMS Design Tip #2: Evaluate your options for a source to create the custom CMS web design based on their quality and experience.

An amateur CMS web designer who states “I can do web design” is probably correct. Children 10 years old or younger at grade school level can design websites. Creating an attractive custom CMS web design may seem easy, yet creating a website that performs well attracting business and search engines is different.

Here are CMS web design service options to consider. The first 3 could be free except for the time needed to setup, manage, and update your website. The other web designer options involve cost.

1. Do It Yourself Web Design
2. Trust a Friend or Relative
3. Use a Free Standard Template
4. Purchase a Premium CMS Template
5. Hire a Freelance CMS Web Designer

If you lack experience, the first 4 options for free or nearly free web design involve climbing a steep learning curve to have a quality CMS website that performs well. With zero experience, it may take 200 or more hours just to research, evaluate, and select a good CMS software package, and then modify it to your unique look in preparation for installation and launch.

Hiring a freelance web designer may be the best choice, yet use due diligence to verify their quality and experience. Have them provide performance evidence for their website. Ask for links to customer CMS design projects that demonstrate quality and performance for their clients, too.

Inexperienced designers may exaggerate or overpromise. Many prefer to discuss what they will do for you without real evidence. This has been proven by catching the lies of firms begging for web design work as subcontractors, yet they cannot prove results for their site or their customers. If a person or company can truly provide a quality custom design solution that performs well, they will have evidence.

Another test is asking if the designer can create a custom CMS in xhtml in a tableless design with valid code to W3C with the ability to add new pages in plain text without learning advanced technical skills. A custom design meeting that sentence should display well now and on new computing inventions for years to come. You may want to ask for evidence that their designs are cross-browser compatible and will display well in all major browsers, too.

Plan Details of Your Site Launch and Growth

Our CMS Design Tip #3: Plan to add original quality content often to your new custom CMS web design to attract repeat visitors.

A website launch and forget it strategy cannot succeed unless your product or service is one-of-a-kind or extremely unique. If you have competition and a one-shot web design budget, your competitor may outperform your website by constantly adding fresh content that gives visitors a reason to return. That site traffic will include repeat shoppers and search engines eager to access that new content.

The purpose of a CMS content management system is the ability to add original quality content often. Before a single line of code is written, our advice is mapping out the site navigation of the initial launch, and pencil in future site growth. The navigation outline will allow you to envision where to add content in the future while keeping a logical site structure so visitors don’t get lost.

During the custom design planning phase, avoid the temptation of having just something or anything online like an under construction one-pager as a place holder. A more developed site with very general information is nearly as bad. Think of a brick and mortar store having a grand opening while half their shelves are empty. You need to make a positive first impression, so do not launch your until you have provided sufficient details of your product or service to convince visitors to consider you.

In summary when choosing a custom CMS web design, budget as much quality as you can afford, use due diligence in selecting your design team, and invest ongoing time or money for future development of your design. Online success of your website depends on planning ahead and implementing our “add original quality content often” strategy along with these custom CMS web design budget tips.

Choosing a Web Designer

Many small business owners struggle with deciding on how to make the right choice for designing their website. They search the web for help with their website and find that the choice is harder than they thought. Currently there are (literally) millions of websites who claim to be professional web designers. However, one must be careful in choosing the right person or people in which to trust their company image. In this article, I will attempt to categorize web designers into manageable groups, and teach the reader the difference between the types.

Web designers fall into four general categories: freelance amateur, freelance professional, Web Design Company, Web Development Firm.

Freelance Amateur

The majority of web designers you will come across, especially searching the Internet, are freelancers. That is, individuals who do web design but are not employed by a web design company. Some are self-employed professionals but most of these freelancers are amateur-hobbyist types. They find a copy of FrontPage™ came with their MS Office™ Suite. They discovered how fun it could be to make web pages so they started telling their friends that they could “design” web pages.

The “pros” of using an amateur is that they are very cheap. The “cons” are too numerous to mention, but I’ll point out a few. They have no training; they have little knowledge of what makes a good website work; they do not understand HTML code or CSS but only FrontPage point and click; they do not understand general design and layout concepts and they have little real experience. The biggest reason they should be avoided for the serious businessperson, is that their work looks amateurish, which makes your company look amateurish. Who wants that?

Freelance Professional

A professional is often defined by simply being paid. People think that if you are paid for something, then you are professional. Maybe that’s true in the Olympics, but for the business services world, you are not a professional until you are established and respected as one by your clients and peers. Freelancer professional web designers are a giant leap from the amateur in that they have established a portfolio of respectable work. They have some sort of qualified training and experience and they have credentials that can be verified by contacting references. They have a good reputation with their clients and other professionals. In general, a good freelance professional web designer can be good person to have doing your site. But they are hard to distinguish from the amateur when you are just searching the web.

The upside is, if you find a good one they are significantly cheaper than a web design company. But that is usually the only upside. If the budget limits you, then a freelancer will do for a small project. But anything seriously important should be left to a professional company.

Some downsides to using a freelance pro are that they are usually part-time, meaning they are limited in how much time they can devote to your project. They are also limited in what they can do for you. Most freelancers are specialists in one area and generalists in everything else. Some have no skills in anything except their one specialty and often you will have to find others to fill roles. In addition, freelancers are not always cheap although many of them are aspiring to create their own company; some are highly sought after and charge $100 per hour or more for their work. My advice here is, if you have that much to spend, go with a company that has a team of professionals to get the job done in a timelier manner.

Web Design Company

This is the next step beyond a freelance professional. The web design company offers the “whole show”. They provide real project management and have pulled together a team of web experts to get a wider range of jobs done. A company can provide a much higher level of expertise in web design, programming, content development and more.

Such a company is usually very small, yet large enough to handle larger scale projects. Compared to the most highly qualified freelancer, a company has a diversity of talent and collaboration working for them. The end-result is usually a much higher quality product.

The only real drawbacks are on the one hand, the web design company is more expensive than a freelancer because there are many more people on the job. However, you get what you pay for rings true. On the other hand, for very large projects or long term development, web design companies may be too small and usually do not have the human recourses to accommodate that $500,000 contract. In the end, for serious business people looking for quality and professionalism and who can’t afford the big firm, this is the way to go.

Web Development Firm

As the title implies, a web development firm is like any traditional company. They have a staff of office workers, they have owners and officers, and they have a team of talented professionals who are paid a good salary for their work. They often have a sales force that do inside and outside sales. The quality of their work goes without saying, as you could not be so well-established by doing shoddy work. These firms offer teams of very talented professionals who work on your project and get the job done in a timely and extremely efficient manner. Additionally, they usually cover all aspects of website development including marketing and advertising. They may have teams of specialists that they can deploy to your location and work in-house under a temporary contract. The possibilities are endless.

If price is not an issue and the highest quality work is necessary, then this is who you want to do the job. For smaller budget businesses, a quote from an established web development firm might knock you off your chair, but know that companies who have project requirements that reach hundreds of thousands of dollars know the score. Thus, the only real drawback for a web development firm is that they are usually very expensive. Then again, cost is relative and bigger companies like to work with bigger companies.

In summary, the choice is yours. I would recommend for the serious businessperson, that you budget a decent amount of dollars to properly design and execute a professional website. I would avoid the amateur and outsource to an individual or company with good experience and reasonable rates to create my web presence. If money were no object, then I would only deal with established firms and pay the big bucks to get the job done right and done well.

Choosing a Web Designer

Here are some tips in finding the right people for the job and some considerations to be taken into account.

1. Introduction

Many businesses look for a web designer as though they were shopping for a general commodity item such as a light bulb – i.e. All websites are equal and paying the 16 year old student on a computer course to build the site will reap exactly the same dividend as paying a specialist web development agency. Other businesses often feel they have to spend thousands upon thousands of pounds on a website for it to be successful.

Let us dispel these myths

Contrary to what many believe, web design is only one component in the production of your website. Some web designers can talk day and night about how pretty your web site can be, but if it isn’t functional, user-friendly, or capable of helping you meet your online goals, then all the superficial beauty in the world isn’t going to help it serve it’s purpose. The design theme of a website is only one component of building a successful online presence.

Choosing a Web Designer is not an easy task! – Here are some tips…

There is so much more to web design than just making a few web pages look pretty if you want to succeed. You need to consider your target audience, underlying message, content, desired responses, visitor impact, online goals, how you are going to measure the success of the site and more. There is so much more to web design than just making a few web pages look pretty

2. Defining Your Requirements

If you have no idea why you want a website or what you want the website to achieve, it is as well to sit down and think it through, rather than rushing to put up a “White elephant” that doesn’t serve a purpose. Every website must serve a purpose, and that’s usually where many websites falls short. They serve no purpose because the website owner never gave much thought to it. It’s not the website’s fault. A website is inanimate. It is only what you make it. The only life a website has is the one given to it by its designer and owner. If the human element doesn’t do a good job of defining the building blocks, the website will serve no purpose and eventually die a digital death. Every website should have a distinct purpose With that in mind, we’d suggest the first stage would be to define the “Goals” of the website in relation to the requirements and aspirations of the business or organisation involved.

Defining the Goal

Every website should have a distinct goal or number of goals that are measurable. A goal can be anything from communicating with friends and associates through to making profits by selling products or services online (e commerce). Your goal in the first instance may even be to have a web presence so potential clients don’t regard your organisation as being backward! Once you have defined a goal (or number of goals), it’s equally important to define:

  • The target audience. i.e. Who you want/expect to visit your website.
  • The actions you want to result from their visit. i.e. Making an online sale, getting them to make an inquiry etc.
  • What benefits you are giving and receiving from having the website.

Defining the Key Functions (The actions)

Once the goals of the website have been established, it’s important to define the actions required by site visitors to meet the goals. An action is any traceable sequence of events carried out by the end user.

Examples might include:

  • Getting in touch – either by phone, email or via an online form.
  • Disseminating Information.
  • Signing up for a newsletter.
  • Completing a questionnaire
  • Commenting on a Blog
  • Downloading or buying products
  • Using an online tool

Of course, there are other intangible benefits that your website might provide to an end user that don’t result in direct “actions”… i.e. simply providing “peace of mind” to an existing or prospective customer would be considered as such. If you haven’t already done so, then it’s also useful to check out the competition, for ideas, likes and dislikes.

Establishing Your Design & Development Preferences

Once you have formulated the goals and functional requirements for the website, it’s time to start building a picture of how you anticipate the site coming together – with regard to structure and design theme. This doesn’t need to be a definitive exercise – Your web designer should be able to add a lot of input and suggestions at a later stage, but it helps to have some ideas to feed into the requirements you approach the designer with in the first instance.

As follows are a few that we feel should be mandatory:

  • The website should adhere to recognised standards. The site should be written to conform and validate to the standards defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – this will in turn, mean your site should be cross-browser friendly (i.e. Appear the same across various different types of web browser).
  • The website should be accessible. In web terms, this means that it conforms to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
  • The website should be clean, crisp and fast loading.
  • The website should be easy to use and inoffensive (see below).

Our Tip: Easy to use and Inoffensive – The WOW factor

Webbies often get asked to produce a website with the “WOW factor”. The “WOW factor” is a term that means different things to different people. Often, the person or business commissioning the website have grandiose plans for extensive animation, splash screens, cartoons, garish designs… This isn’t the WOW factor – A bold garish design with “off the wall” colour schemes may seem bold and innovative to some people, but may really put off other site users – Find the happy medium.

If a person wants to buy a pair of shoes online then their mission is basically to find the desirable pair of shoes at the right price in the quickest possible time. They don’t visit an e-commerce site to watch an animation of shoes tap dancing across the screen. Leave cartoons and needless animation that add zero value to those experts in their own field. People watch the Simpsons for that type of entertainment. They likely won’t be visiting your website for (or be impressed by) to be “dazzled” by irrelevant attempts to stand out.

Our own interpretation of the “WOW factor” is a site that is very simple to use, clean, crisp, user friendly, fast loading with great content. Basically, the site that delivers it’s underlying message quickly and concisely is the most effective. Google has the WOW Factor and you don’t see slow loading animation on that website. The WOW factor should mean Winning on the Web and nothing else.

Ok, so you’ve mapped out some goals and requirements… time to start looking for the right guys to go ahead and implement the solution for you.

3. Selecting a Web Designer / Developer

Initially, the best place to begin is by putting together a shortlist of designers. You may choose to do this in any number of ways but here are some suggestions that you may wish to factor in:

  • The location of the prospective designer. This may or may not be a factor for you. Some people are happy to work remotely and others prefer some face to face interaction. If the latter is essential to you, then you will need to focus on designers in your local area.
  • The designer’s portfolio. This is usually a key factor in any shortlisting process. You may choose to favour designers who have worked specifically in the sector you are targeting, or you may simply like other unrelated websites they have developed.
  • Independent Word of mouth recommendation. You may have received glowing reports on particular designers and their after-sales service. Don’t overlook this.
  • The size of the company. Generally speaking, the size of the company provides you with little idea to the quality or work they can produce or the services they can provide. Some SMEs prefer to work on a more personal level with smaller providers or freelance designers with larger corporates preferring the opposite.
  • The cost – Most professional web designers tend to produce work on a bespoke basis, tailored uniquely for each client – and the vast majority do not publish prices. (We do). However, an initial discussion should be able to provide you with a “ball park” figure at least based on your requirements outline. Some designers are also able to provide cost-effective “out of the box” solutions at a fixed price.

Tip: Get a fixed price quote rather than an hourly rate. Let’s face it… an hourly or daily rate is meaningless as a measuring stick when your consider it may take one designer twice as long as another to complete the same job.

Web designers will typically showcase previous work on their own websites, but be sure to consider that they are gearing a site’s design and structure to requirements presented by another party that likely won’t match your own. It’s more important that you are confident that they can implement your solution than perhaps reading too much into other design work that you might not necessarily like.

Another consideration you may should take into account is the attitude a designer shows when you first make contact. You can often gauge whether they are genuinely interested in the project and whether they are going to be proactive – and if they can offer a high level of support. Designers not providing a landline phone number or a business address may be harder to contact when you need them the most. Trust your instincts and exercise common sense.

Tip: Don’t base everything on price and make sure you compare “like” with “like”. Also, don’t be afraid to share your budget with the designers during initial discussions and then see what they can deliver within it. Time is often wasted if you are discussing the project over days or weeks and then end up being miles apart on pricing expectations.

The more information you give furnish the designer with, relating to your goals, requirements and design preferences, the better. Also make sure that you discuss timescales and payment schedules (most designers will ask for a deposit upfront and a final balance payment when the project is completed. There may also be interim payment milestones for larger projects). Additionally, enquire about any recurring charges for support, future amends, web hosting, domains etc. Neither party will want hidden surprises.

4. Questions You will be Asked

It’s always better to be prepared when you approach web designers… they will also have their own queries to establish a the requirements, gauge the work involved and furnish you with a quote.

Typical questions you might be asked include the following:

  • What does your company do?
  • What are the Unique Selling Points that your company has to offer?
  • What is the purpose of the website?
  • How do you see the website evolving in the future?
  • Do you have any existing branding? i.e. Logo, colour schemes or other marketing materials?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Do you require e commerce or an online payment mechanism?
  • Can you provide links to other websites that you like from a design perspective?
  • Can you provide links to other websites that you like from a functionality perspective? (i.e. How they work)
  • What is your budget? Don’t be afraid to disclose a budget figure – it can help a lot.

If you aren’t able to get an immediate quote, request that the designer gets back to you and establish a timescale for this to happen. As you can probably tell, choosing a web designer isn’t necessarily a straightforward process if you are seeking the right fit for your project. The more detailed research and preparation that you carry out, the better.

5. Going ahead

When you make a decision on proceeding with a designer, make sure to get the quote in writing and make sure the it’s clear that the copyright of the website is yours once completed. Ensure all charges (including any future and/or recurring charges) are spelled out to avoid any ambiguity and problems further down the line.

Creative Web Design

By contracting a creative web design company to design your new website as opposed to a more traditional web company, you give yourself an unmeasurable edge over your competition in the eyes of your potential customers.

Traditional design companies focus on purely getting a site put together with relevant information, that functionally works. Enter Web 2.0 and more traditional marketing avenues venturing into the marketplace, and creative web design companies have come into the game.

By ‘creative web design’, I refer to websites which still have the functionality and relevant information consumers have come to expect, but have a huge focus on the aesthetic aspect, and use traditional marketing ‘wow factor’ to capture the users attention, and last longer in their mind than those of the competitor.

Picture a billboard with great graphic design and immaculate choice of imagery, compared with an ad on the side of the road simply with a name and number. While you may have chosen to look at both, the creative approach will prompt you, the audience, to remember the creative billboard.

Now picture two websites, side by side. One with a flash intro page, immediately showing a montage of images and grabbing y our attention; which leads into a visually beautiful website where every pixel is perfectly crafted into alignment. Next, a bland website showing you purely text and a basic navigation. The difference is so enormous it’s like comparing Black and White TV with a 3d Movie Theatre.

Through the use of the latest and greatest technology, a creative web design company will use Flash, jQuery, and HTML5 to visually engage the user; however this is where the pitfalls of a creative web design can come into play.

Many years ago, around the year 2000, many graphic design companies started to see an emergence in the marketplace for web services. Many of these companies had employees with a little web experience, enough to get by, and as such they began offering web services. What they didn’t understand was functionality, valid mark-up, cross-browser compatibility, or SEO – all things which a more traditional web design company would take into account.

While this would be classed as a creative web design company, often their creative web design’s wouldn’t be successfully converted from a design into code, and having mis-alignments in a design (especially cross-browser) became commonplace. Without experienced developers on-hand, many of these problems became overlooked, and many substandard creatively designed websites are still around today, with more and more being sent live on the world wide web every day.

For this reason, when looking to hire a creative web design company, you should always be sure to look into their operation, most reputable companies won’t mind you asking a few questions. In a creative web design company, the people building your site should be working as a team. The days of all-rounders are over, and when creativity is to be combined with functionality, it is essential to have a ‘designer’ as well as a ‘developer’ work on your project.

A designer is generally artistically minded, and may have worked as a graphic designer in the print world at some capacity. Thei r goal is to create a visually appealing design for your approval. This will be a static image of what your website is going to look like, as it is much faster to edit a graphic than to edit a coded website. Most creative web design agencies work in a similar fashion, as this allows for the complete artistic talent of the designer to be used, and complete use of the imagination of not only the designer, but also the client.

Once a design is approved, a developer steps in to convert this to a web format in standards compliant code. This may include implementation of a Content Management System (CMS), and generally involves some mild Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as cross-browser compatibility. Once this is done, your brand new creative web design is all ready for the World Wide Web.

You need to choose a creative web design company that can fulfil all of your needs from creating a website which suits your brand image and captivates the user, to something which will navigate easily, rank well on search engines, function the same across your entire user-base, and ultimately lead to more conversions in your market.

Tips for Choosing a Web Designer for Your Business

How to Choose a Web Design Firm

Simple. You do your homework on them. Then, you start asking questions and taking notes. There are plenty of web designers available. You want to go with the best because, in fact, your web designer is in essence your partner. You want to choose a designer that takes YOUR business seriously.

What questions do you ask?

There are several important questions to ask when choosing a web designer for your business web site.

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design firm for your business web site is a very important decision. And if your company is like most small businesses, you probably do not have web design experience. Building your web site will take time and work. And working with a web designer is no easy task. So choose the right web design company from the start and avoid do-over’s, which can be costly and time consuming.

1. What kind of web experience do you have?

For starters, find out what kind of design experience your potential design firm has. Do they have experience with content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal, do they have experience working with “raw” HTML? Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience with ecommerce hosting?

2. Do you have a portfolio that I can review?

An experienced web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you?

3. Do you have any references?

In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn’t they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

4. What are your prices?

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front.

Ask them a bit about how they manage payments. If they respond in a very business-like and professional manner, this is a good sign. If they throw out answers like – “Don’t worry, we’ll manage” or “Whatever you are comfortable with”, don’t be fooled. This is trouble waiting to happen. Get the price in writing before you begin the project.

5. Do you have experience with search engine optimization?

Most small business owners do not have it in their budget to hire a separate marketing firm to work on search engine optimization (SEO), so it imperative that your web designer have experience in SEO. A good designer will know that design and SEO go hand-in-hand. Designing a web site for search engines with “clean” code that utilizes cascading style sheets is essential to getting your content indexed in the leading search engines, such as Google and Bing.

6. Do you have experience with social media marketing?

Many marketing firms do know the first thing about social media marketing. These firms are stuck in the past and are not as effective as they pretend to be. Be sure that you work with a designer that knows how to setup a Facebook fan page for your business and design a customized Twitter profile. This is important because you will want your social media properties to mesh with the design of your web site. The web site and social media pages should complement one-another.

7. What is your process for designing or building a web site?

Make sure you ask your potential web design company about the process that they use? Do they design a web site or do they build a web site? An experienced Internet professional should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don’t, they’re probably not as experienced as they claim to be. Building a web site is a highly technical process, while designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. At the same time, many firms design web sites, yet out-source the creative portion of the project. Find out from the beginning what the process if for the firm that you are considering.

8. How long will it take?

Perfectionism can be a huge stumbling block in the fast paced world of the Internet. Some designers are unable to compromise between quality and time to market needs. Test: See how long it takes until you receive a proposal.

9. What type of support is offered after web site launch?

If your design firm does not offer web site maintenance, you might want to continue looking. Most reputable design firms will offer “post-launch” maintenance for companies that do not have an in-house webmaster.

10. Which web hosting providers do you work with?

If your design firm does not know the first-names of the contact at their favorite web design firm, then this should raise a red flag. Most reputable web designers know not to choose a web host simply because they are the most popular or because they offer the cheapest web hosting. A reputable web design firm should know who to call and how to get results! Does your web designer work with a green hosting company? Environmentally-friendly web hosting is becoming more and more popular for business web sites looking to implement an eco-policy.

Getting a little recognition on the W3 is hard, even in a niche market (especially in a niche market). You have less than 10 seconds to convince a site visitor to stick around long enough to learn about the quality of your services, your products or your message. Web surfers are jagged out on information overload. If they don’t see what they want to see on your home page or a landing page, they bounce. So, making a statement about your corporate culture and your business’ core values has to happen in the blink of an eye. Visitors will never even see the “About Us” page if you don’t create a good impression – in 10 seconds. So, go green! An emblem or banner proclaiming that you employ green hosting makes an immediate statement about your on-line business. It says you care about the environment.

Do your homework when choosing a web design firm.

Good designers are creative people that need to think out of the box. Finding a good web designer is getting harder and harder. The good designers are being snatched by agencies and large projects. They are overloaded with work and often, you won’t know about them because they don’t have time (or need) to market themselves. Doing your homework and asking the right questions is important to decide if they are right for the job.

Tips to Buck Up the Web Designers

When you are running a web design business, it is very important for you to understand that your clients are the part and parcel of your business. The type of clients you agree upon to work with speaks a lot about you and your web design firm. Similarly, the grounds on which they delegated the responsibility on you to produce a design speaks a lot about them. Maintaining a good relationship with the client is though a hard nut to crack, but a lot of it spins around the web designers’ knack to edify their customers and set expectations so that both sides end up with gratification.

Many of the designers go off the beaten track in a way to gratify their clients. They make continual edits, re-designing, Last minute changes, moreover the add-in features that had never been discussed. Web designers just give in to each and every caprice of their clients but then at the end they end up getting underpaid and feeling frustrated, rebuffed and jaded.

Most web designers might relate this to worst example in a web design process. There are a few absurd expectations for a project to go quickly and smoothly. The minute these expectation ruins out of delays in the completion of the project or the bad designs or due to the coding bugs, etc., both the client and the web designer as well gets irked. Nevertheless, there is a trick out of which you can make your irksome design process a pleasant experience for you and your client as well. Edifying your clients is not a great part of your business project but you can make certain that it will aid you greatly in recuperating the working relationship with your client.

Wondering what tags along a general list of some significant lessons that must outline the scaffold for the education process? Well, a few key points are brought into a limelight below:

Tip 1: You are a Professional Designer, Not a Laborer

People never tell their Doctor’s and electricians how they need to do their jobs. They understand that the doctors and electricians obviously more on familiar terms with their respective field of work than them. This attitude on the other hand ought to persist with the webmasters too. Many clients have a set mind that just browsing through the websites qualifies the webmasters to make design decisions. They treat web designer as the annex of their brains. And because of this kind of false premonition the designers are often wrongly taken as the laborers who are born to get their task done, and not the professionals who are creative and talented with the skills and experience that others professionals to might have in their area of work. Moreover, the clients forget that the Web Designers too are the part of the design process equally.

This pathetic situation occurs generally in the case of freelancers where the clients presume that if the designers don’t have their office then they can work in any odd hour of the day too as if they don’t have their family or other things around to be taken care of!

Thus it is imperative for the web designers to make certain that their clients understand that they are experts and that their opinions are grounded in the research before the web design process initiates.

Tip 2: Communication is Vital

Lack of communication can often badly ruin the whole of the project. Generally, the clients tend to keep themselves involved and vocal in the initial stage of the project. This as a result ends up with the designers’ belief that the things are going well until when the clients hand over them the laundry list of edits.

So, bringing this clause under the contract that you might need your client’s feedback throughout the project from an issue as large as payments and billings to the minuscule subjects like the color combinations etc. so that you can generate a better product in less time period.

Tip 3: The Web and the Print Medium are like chalk and cheese

There are some of the clients who are going through the web design process for the first time and web is a strange and foreign place for them whilst there are a few who are incapable of figuring out the difference between the print medium and the web.

There are also a few clients who want their website to represent itself just like a brochure of their product or services.

Therefore, being an expert of this design arena, it’s the designer’s responsibility to enlighten their clients about the things like their website can be very well fabricated like a brochure as per their desire but doing this might fail to plug the real power of the internet eventually setting them up as the failure on the web. The web designer’s having their lives almost certainly been spent surfing the web should never take these little things for granted. Edifying the clients over the nuance and the subtlety of the web can help aid the wrong illusions that the clients might have.

Thus, to wrap-up, the art of learning the management of clients is a major challenge for any service-oriented business. If one wants to maintain good working relationships then, edifying clients are one of the wisest ways. Web designing is an essential fragment of the service-industry and thus follows the same rules. The toughest job to do ever is to stand up your client or boss but as a matter of fact doing this regularly can make your irksome website process a pleasant experience for yourself and for your clients as well.