Monthly Archives: July 2018

How to Find the Right Web Design Company

A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”

What does the above quotation convey? To have a portal, you have to commit mistakes. Isn’t that funny? No, not at all. It may be a motivating sentence, but in business it can turn out to be doomsday for small start-ups with little investments. This article has been done especially for small start-ups who want to make it in their respective fields and are planning to launch their website or looking for a facelift or adding new functionalities to there existing site or aren’t sure about their design requirements.

Choosing a Web Design Company

With a multitude of web designers and developers out there, from freelancers, to agencies, to online templates, how do you know what the right fit is for your company, and more importantly, for your goals and objectives? Choosing a web design company is not that a serious job. But choosing a good web design company is a real serious challenge. People say that Internet has made business processes simple and global, but how about the complexities that Internet offers which are unique. Just Search for the term “Good Web Design Firm” on Google, and it comes up with millions of results. For normal human being it’s impossible to search through every result. We will go through the entire process of selecting a Web Design and Development company in a structured way.

STEP 1 – Planning

The first step involves defining your needs. While searching for the right web designer, it is important to have a clear idea what role your new Web site or a redesigned one 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:

o The role of your new Web site.

o The intended market or audience of your Web site.

o 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 – Searching and Creating a Primary list

Searching is a vigorous process and does not require any special skill other than diligence to effectively come up with good results that fulfill your requirements. Just scan through directories, check Google listings on specific key word searches and ask for referrals from your friends or business partners. It does not have to be a very extensive research work.

Referral: Ask business acquaintances, friends, and family which web design firm designed the website for their respective organizations, or if they can otherwise recommend a web design firm.

Web sites: Determine the web design firm that is responsible for the websites of organizations that you admire. These organizations may be your competitors, or in related or unrelated industries. Sometimes the web design firm is included in the site credits, or is listed elsewhere on the website. If you cannot find the credits on the site itself, feel free to contact the organization and ask which web design firm is responsible for the website. This can also be a good source for references for that web design firm.

STEP 3 – Evaluating and Short listing

Once you have gathered a list of potential web design firms you are ready to pare them down to a shortlist. This requires a bit of research work.

Portfolio – It’s about the three C’s – Credibility, Consistency and Capability. How consistent they are? What are the parameters on which the company is capable enough to fulfill your requirement? Are there any testimonials that speak about their credibility? Do the projects in the portfolio have a consistent quality? Have they consistently given good results in the given time frame? Has the Web design company provided solutions to other companies in your industry? Have they dealt with similar challenges to those faced by your organization? These are some important factors to consider. When you’ve narrowed your search to a few design sources (through recommendations, web directories, or your competitors’ sites), evaluate their online portfolios and their rate structure. A web site doesn’t have to be flashy or animated to do its job. Browse sites they have built, check ease of navigation, organization of information, overall cleanliness and visitor-friendliness. Also, consider hiring a firm that demonstrates some familiarity with your type of business. Just go through the success stories/case studies that have been made available on their web site and corroborate the credentials through references if possible.

Experience and Fees – This is called the EF of web design firm. Experience and fees are very much inter-related. The general norm is the more experienced you are, the more you are paid. This interesting story can tell you what experience is all about.

Once upon a time there was a steam generating plant that was not producing much steam. After a frustrating search for the cause, the plant manager, in desperation, called in an expert. After only two hours on site, the expert found the problem and placed “X’s” on two pipes that were causing the problem, saying that they had to be removed. When presented with the bill, the plant manager asked the consultant how he could charge $5,000.00 for only two hours of work. When he asked for an itemized bill, this is what he got:

1. $400.00 – Placing “X’s” on two pipes.

2. $4,600.00 – Knowing where to place the “X’s”.

The plant manager got what he paid for and probably a lot more. He had already used up more than that amount on his own staff not to mention the loss in revenue while the plant was shut down. For him, securing the advisory services of a consultant was the right thing to do.

It matters a lot if the company has a good experience in diverse business domains and has professionals and specialists from variegated backgrounds. As such they will have an understanding of different business verticals that may be an advantageous point for your website. Another important factor is budget. What you pay is what you get – WYPIWYG. Never compromise with the quality of your website just for saving few quick bucks. In the long run you will end up on a losing side. Have you ever imagined why American diamonds cost less and than real diamonds when at times it’s difficult to differentiate between the two? It’s obvious – the brilliance and hardness of diamond. This makes another interesting point, you can get a cosmetic surgery done for your website for a lesser cost, but it will lack the functionalities and effectiveness. It can draw visitors but can not turn them into business. So when you pay for something, you definitely get a good deal in return.

Technology – What is their technological competence? Does this match with your requirement? How many projects they have worked on using the same? How frequently their technology is upgraded- both in terms of software and hardware?

Deadlines – Has the company carried out the projects in stipulated time? Time is one of the most important factors as the longer it takes, the higher the input costs get. Some companies may offer you a shorter time period and may be ready with the design. But after that starts the long and torrid journey of finding and fixing bugs which may turn your visitors off.

Responsiveness – How promptly the company responds to your queries? Does it listen to your queries? Are they responsive to my suggestions and questions? Do they explain issues in ways you can understand? Do they share your general vision for the site? Are they interested in Return on Investment for the web site? Do they possess the skills necessary to achieve your goals?

Communication Process – Poor communication is one of the major bottlenecks for business processes. Ensure that the company with which you are working is comfortable with your language. Generally, English (US/UK) is taken as the preferred language to communicate with each other. What are the tools and technologies they use for communicating? How will they keep you updated with the developments with regards your project? These are some of the important factors that should be kept in mind while deciding about the communication process while choosing a Web Design partner.

Services – What are the other services that company can offer other than designing? What kind of value-added products or services can the design firm offer?

All these points will help you to narrow down to the list of companies that may offer you viable solutions and help your cause. The next step involves inviting proposals from the short listed parties. Just check through as many cross references that you find justifiable or will satisfy your curiosity. The more time you will invest in this phase, the sweeter will be the returns afterwards.

STEP 4- Proposals

Once you have selected your short-list of top web development firms, request that they send you a proposal. Ask that their proposal include an overview of your requirements and their proposed solution. This will help to determine which web design firm understands your requirements best. Also ask that each web design firm include a description of their development process and a price breakdown for the various aspects of the website project.

STEP 5 – Evaluating Proposals

Evaluate each proposal individually on the basis of merit. Take the following points into consideration:

a) Wellness of the proposal.

b) Respective strength and weaknesses of the companies.

c) Evaluate the presentation and format style.

STEP 6 – Selecting the Company

After your organization has reviewed all proposals, compare them with each other. How do they fare in terms of presentation? How do their processes appear in terms of project management? Do they present scalability and/or upgrade paths for your project, which go beyond the needs of the immediate goals outlined?

After going through all the above process, you should be able to zero in on to a particular company. If the doubt persists, establish communication process between the likely companies to understand their process and commitments.

Choosing the Right Web Designer

So, you’ve finally decided that you need a web site for your business? Well, there are a few key-points to remember BEFORE you make one of the most crucial decisions for your business.

Choosing the right designer for your new business web site:

When it comes to choosing the right web designer for your web site, you should always shop around first to check out all of the available options. There are many web design companies out there to choose from. And most of them are pretty good at what they do.

Always ask to see samples of a web designer’s previous work and examine their portfolio. This will help you get a better feel for the style of sites any particular web designer is capable of doing. Most of the time, web designers have their own unique style and you can easily spot which designs they’ve done in the past. I mean, it’s similar to any other artist’s style; you can definitely spot their previous works based on the general layout, color scheme, and over-all visual appearance of the sites.

Experience is also a key factor here. Just like any other craft, web designers get better with experience. So naturally, you’ll be better off by choosing a web designer who has more experience under his or her belt.

Another key point you should define is whether or not the web designer can make you a 100% custom web site. Or will it be just a basic template web design that 100’s or even 1,000’s of people already have across the Internet. Pretty much anybody these days can create a basic HTML web page in Microsoft Word or Publisher and change the title of it to reflect their Branson business. But you must ask yourself: “is this really what I’m looking for”?

Web sites that are truly custom built will stand out more the rest of the basic template web designs that so many people are using these days. A custom web design will catch the eye of your potential customers and show them that you have a really professional web presence and you mean business.

A lot of web designers these days choose to do the template web sites for one of 2 reasons:

It’s cheaper to use a basic template web design. They might be lacking the necessary skills needed to develop a fully custom web site. Whatever the case may be, make sure you go with a designer who is capable of creating a custom web design for you. It will inevitably cost you more for a custom site. But it is totally worth the extra money spent. Trust me, in the end you will be much happier with your web site if it is a site that’s unique and created for just your business and not everybody else’s.

Communication with a potential web designer is also critical in the development of your web site. You need to be perfectly clear and define your goals up-front, before you actually sign a web design service contract with a designer. Make sure you know what you are getting for your money and make sure you get it in writing! I have a 9-page web site design contract that I use every single time I design a new web site. Included in this contract is an itemized list of all work that is to be performed during the development of the web site. Things like the exact number of pages, the exact number of graphics to be designed, whether or not I need to create a logo, the estimated time before completion, whether or not routine site maintenance will be performed after the site is 6 months or 1 year old, etc.

Defining these things will help you in the long run and will also make sure you and the web designer are on the same page.

I also use what I call my “web design planning worksheet”. This worksheet gives “milestones” or deadlines for each phase of the web design project. Things like “In 2 weeks the general layout will be done” and “2 weeks after that, the site will be coded and launched” and then “In one moth after the web site is launched, we will evaluate it to see what needs to be adjusted”, etc. (these are just examples, by the way. the details included in one of my actual worksheets gives exact dates and more specific milestones).

And what about the web hosting for your new web site? Usually, a web designer will provide some kind of insight as to which hosting company they recommend. Web designers in general have a preference for a hosting company that they know will be a good choice for your web site and they should assist you in making this selection.

Fortunately, we have our own web server here at Digital Spiral Web Design so we can do all of the hosting ourselves. This is very beneficial because we can make sure the web server stays up and running and if there is any maintenance that needs to be performed on the server, we can do it ourselves in a timely manner. Plus, we will always cut a deal for our web site hosting services to any new business who chooses us to do their web design.

Will your new web site require any specialized web programming? Well, the answer to that question is based solely on the needs of your Branson web site. What kind of site will it be? Does it need a shopping cart for e-commerce? Will you be implementing any special web applications or online forms for your viewers to fill out? Will it be a web site that requires your viewers to fill out registrations and sign up so they can login? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then chances are you’ll need a web designer who can also program.

Web developers and designers must be skilled in the art of web PROGRAMMING (something that is very different from regular web DESIGN). Web programming involves the implementation of different web programming languages like JAVA, PHP, Flash, SQL, or.NET. All of these web programming languages need highly skilled individuals to code them and develop web programs with them.

I personally love PHP! I use it for pretty much everything. I won’t go into the details of PHP in this article (I would have to write an entire book about it to cover all of it). But with PHP, I can create pretty much any web application that is logically possible.

So, make sure you choose a web designer who is also capable of coding any special functions that your new web site needs. This decision needs to be discussed and gone over by any potential web designer you might use to create your Branson web site.

And finally, you should always check with the potential web designer’s previous clients to make sure they give him or her a good reference. Remember: it just like any other service. You need to verify a web designer’s references and make sure they can do what they say they can do.

So, just to summarize all of the tips I’ve mentioned:

Ask questions, questions, and more questions before you choose a web designer. Clearly define your goals from the beginning. Ask to see the web designer’s portfolio and samples of their previous work. Make sure they can help you with choosing a web hosting provider. Get documentation to show exactly how many pages will be included in the project and the estimated time before completion. If your Branson web site requires special web programming, make sure the designer can handle it. I hope this article helps anybody who is getting ready to have a new web site designed. A good web site can really do wonders for your business!