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Choosing a Website Designer – How to Find a Reputable and Capable Web Developer or Designer

August 27th, 2018

There are millions of website designers out there, hundreds of thousands of companies, and thousands of cowboys. Choosing one to build your site can be very, very difficult, and people get ripped off every day – but here are some tips to help you find a reputable designer.

1. Make sure they don’t use templates.

Pre-built website templates aren’t for designers; they’re for people without any technical knowledge or design skills who want to knock up a website in an hour or so. There is no shame in using pre-made templates for personal sites, but a designer should never have to use them – and for a business site to be based on a template is very unprofessional. There could be a hundred other sites out there that look exactly the same as yours – not terribly handy for a business that wants to distinguish itself from the competition. If the company you’re checking out uses templates, you may as well build the site yourself.

2. Make sure they don’t lock you into their hosting.

I went to see some folks in Chester today who’d been ripped off by their designers – they built an E-commerce website from a template, made the customer insert his own products, and charged him £450 for the privilege. Even more obscenely, they then expected him to pay three hundred pounds a year for hosting.

Sadly, this sort of scam is all too prevalent. Get the company’s hosting rates in writing – or, better yet, host the site yourself. If they offer to host it for free for the first year, that’s fine – it’s an accepted industry standard. But make sure that you’re free to move your site to another host, and that your domain name is registered to yourself in case of disputes.

You can find out who a domain name is registered to by running a WHOIS check. Test a few of the sites in the designer’s portfolio, to make sure they’re not registering their clients’ domains under their own name.

3. Always look for testimonials that can be backed up with contact details or web addresses, a portfolio site hosted on a proper domain name (anything that sounds spammy like should be avoided) and a good command of written English. If they confuse “your” with “you’re,” or “it’s” with “its,” or “there” with “they’re” or “there,” they will make your company look horribly unprofessional and untrustworthy.

4. Use the W3C validation service to test their portfolio website for code errors. If they can’t make code that passes validation for their own website, how well do you think they’ll write yours?

5. Test their portfolio site, and sites they’ve made for clients, in at least both FireFox and Internet Explorer, to make sure that they display correctly. They don’t have to look exactly the same – they probably won’t, thanks to Internet Explorer’s blatant disregard for Web standards – but make sure that you can at least move around the site and make sense of it, and that it looks half-decent.

6. If the designer uses a Hotmail address, run. If they won’t give you a contact telephone number, run. Mobile numbers are acceptable and normal, due to the transitory nature of website designers, and shouldn’t carry the stigma that they’d be associated with in other industries. Check to see if they’re tax-registered, and that they’ll be able to furnish you with an invoice and receipt, on letter headed paper.

7. Meet up with your designer in person if you can. Obviously this is hard if they’re overseas, but if you live nearby, ask if they charge a consultation fee.

8. Determine whether or not the designer will charge you for updates to your website, whether or not you’ll be able to easily update your site yourself, and whether or not they’ll still be around in a year’s time to help you out with it. Contact the customers listed in their Testimonials section, if needs be.

9. As a just-in-case, Google their business name (in quotation marks) just to see if there’s any negative feedback left in forums. Don’t ever buy website design services from eBay. Ever. Seriously.

10. Although this may run counter to a few of the things I’ve already said, be very wary of large companies offering website design services. The smaller companies, sole traders and partnerships, always do a better job for much less money.

I hope these tips help to steer you away from disreputable designers, but remember to use your common sense, shop around, and keep your wits about you.

Good luck!

4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Web Developer

August 26th, 2018

In this digital revolution age, websites play an important function in enhancing one’s business by connecting new customers from around the world. Websites are proving to be an important resource. They have become an important platform for providing and receiving information. Therefore, website design is growing in popularity because it helps in designing a good-looking web page. The reasons why websites are created is to offer information on a particular subject area, selling products/services or entertaining. The factors to consider when choosing a web designer include:

1. Website design portfolio

Any established website design company should have a portfolio. Therefore, when evaluating the portfolio, it is important to ask several questions including:

· Have the websites been properly designed?

· Does the portfolio suggest the website design company is experienced?

· Does the portfolio indicate the company is experienced with different customers?

· Are the web pages user-friendly (easy to navigate, easy to understand and simple for users to find things)?

· Are the websites rankings well on the search engines?

2. Expertise & experience

Web design is a complex task that is evolving. A professional will ensure his expertise and experience will be engaged in constructing your website. They understand how things work including computer language skills or programming and compatibility of the website and browser. The amateurs require time to undertake the job with expertise and experience; you may not want them to make mistakes on your account. They are likely to produce a poorly designed website that is not friendly at all.

3. Technology platform

Many of the web designers utilize a specific technology to design websites. It is important to select a designer that uses a platform that is used widely. This makes it possible for other website designers to work on the website when the need arises. It is advisable to choose a web designer that engages common technology platforms such as Joomla, Drupal or WordPress because these platforms are worked by the majority of designers.

4. Initial investment

The costs of designing websites vary from company to company. A typical structure may include per page, fixed or hourly rates. When selecting a website design company, it is advisable to take into consideration the initial investment. In some instances, you are likely to discover a website design company with an impressive portfolio and websites that rank top of the search engine but lack the initial capital to engage the company. It is important to compare prices, consider the method of billing and receive the billing in writing.

Web Developing is a Team Sport

August 25th, 2018

If you have basic knowledge about HTML or can devour the FAQ page of WordPress (a content management system) and install it on a server, you can have a website up and going in about a day.

Now, to design a website that SELLS is quite another story.

You see, in order to come up with a website that makes money, doing it alone can be hard. What you need is a team because who focuses on different parts of the business – this is why I often say that an online business is a team sport.

The Web Designer

This person ensures that the aesthetic value of the website is pleasing to the eye and ensure that the website is easy to navigate. Let’s face it, how the website look to others dictates how people see your company, how reliable you are and if you are professional enough. The designer typically is good with colors, is fantastic with graphics and images.

Hardware and Software Technical Support

Not many people focus on the technical side of things like the server. We assume that it will run on its own and it can’t be THAT bad. Wrong. You need a good firewall to prevent malicious hacking. It needs a 24/7 security because whenever it crashes, not only will you lose money, it frustrates your customers as well.

Finance and Accounting

You need someone who is consistently there to deal with the sales when they come in, close the accounts at the end of every month, allocate funds for development of website, prepare the budget for online marketing, maintaining the website and if there was a loss, work the figures out to find out how much. The very same person will also be in charge of deciding whether it is more cost-effective to hire or outsource.

Online and Offline Marketing

Marketing your website online is important but I am not saying that you can neglect or completely stop advertising yourself offline.

Offline marketing and online marketing when strategized together can be a formidable marketing tool. You first need a good copywriter for both the online and offline efforts, a graphic designer, a printer to develop advertising material, search engine team of experts to optimize and market your website effectively. And for your landing page, hire someone who knows your customers’ buying behavior. And THAT would be your ideal website marketing team!

Customer Service Representative

Modern day consumers are impatient people. They rarely have the time and patience to deal with bad customer service.

Do you remember the last time you complained about not getting prompt response when you send enquiries to Malaysian websites? Can you recall the number of times the promise of ‘three working days response’ not being met?

Your customer service representative is your front man and having a bad one will do your company’s image more damage than you can ever imagine. The fastest response for me on a personal level is 30 minutes and it gave me a very good impression of the company.