Enter “web designer” in a search engine you will be confronted with thousands of results – how do you know which one to choose?
What sort of website to you want to create?
Web developers love jargon as they like to give your site a label. So is the site commercial (an e-commerce or affiliate site), personal, organisational (maybe a .org), educational (maybe a .edu), entertainment, news or blog?
Your site will not be adequately explained with one word. Maybe you want an commercial website with a blog, or an entertainment website with an e-commerce angle, but this can be explained after you’ve decided upon the most adequate one or two word description of your website.
What sort of functionality do you want?
Do you want a forum, multimedia (movies, sounds, image galleries), blog, site registration, shopping cart or electronic fund transfer, forms, databases, chat?
Now search again for your web designer / developer
So now you can enter different keywords into a search engine, such as “freelance blog designer” or “e-commerce designer and developer” and you will get more relevant search results.
Should I choose a web agency or an individual designer / developer?
This depends on the size of your site. If you are thinking of creating a huge e-commerce site on a par with Walmart then you should consider contacting a web agency. Otherwise, contact an individual who does websites. I may be biassed, as I am an individual web designer and developer, but we have many advantages over the agencies:
- One person is responsible for the whole site. Cuts down bureaucracy and keeps things simple.
- It’s … errr … cheaper. Now there’s a no brainer if ever there was one.
- A freelancer or independent web designer is more likely to choose an open source CMS (Content Management System) for your website rather than creating one especially for the job. Again, this depends on the size of the website and sometimes a bespoke CMS for a large site is the only answer but I always advise against them. Open source CMSs – such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal – are well-known website systems that are free and already available for use. They are cheaper to run, have huge support networks behind them and can be used by countless web professionals for many years to come. A bespoke or proprietary CMS will be more expensive and, if you want it changed (which you will), you will have to go back to the original agency and give them more money to do it.
Don’t worry if you think the site is too much work for one person, it is normal for developers and designers to employ others if the work load gets too much for them. They will be better at this than you and, as long as you have one person in charge and responsible for the whole project, you don’t need to worry about how many people are working on it.
The last thing you want to do is to hire designers and developers separately and hope that they will communicate together or through you – this will never work.
What do I look for?
When you arrive and a web designer / developer’s website, look for examples of their work first and see if they have done sites that are similar to what you’re looking to create. Try to find out what this individual is like to work with. You can contact the people he or she has worked with or see if there is a testimonial page on the site.
Once you have explained what you want, see if the developer responds in plain English or uses jargon that you don’t understand. Be wary of jargon as misunderstandings can be very expensive and it is essential you hire a good communicator.
Communication is key here. Research types of websites, CMSs and jargon before you start out and have a clear idea of the functionality, audience and purpose of your website. If you have this crystal clear in your mind you will be able to find the right individual by talking to them and reading their quotes and proposals.
Responsible web designers and developers will present you with the exact functionality and extent of the website they will build for you with their initial quote so you will be in no doubt about what you are getting for your money.