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10 things to look for when hiring a web design agency – Part II

Posted by : admin in Web Design ()Comments

Last week, we talked about some points that any smb should keep in mind when hiring a web designer. Lets pick up the strings from where we left them and move ahead. The other points that a business must consider to ensure that they hire the ‘right web design firm” are:

5. Sound communication skills: Its important that you and your point of contact in the agency understand each other. Prompt responses, clear communication and the ability to explain things in a language that a layman can understand are the key points you need to check on. The first few communications with the design firm will give you a fair idea of this.

6. Hidden costs: Some agencies will make a very low cost offer initially but as you move along, you soon discover that stuff that you had assumed to be a part of the package need to be paid for. So before you hire, make sure you have a clear list of deliverables and the associated costs.

7. Need based or fad based: Flash sites may be pretty and experiential but are they suited to your business and your target audience? A good web designer will not hard sell the latest fad to you but will suggest what is likely to work best for your site, bring in most visitors, generate more inquiries, result in more sales and the like. They will start with your site objectives and work with you to achieve bang for your buck.

Stay clear of the web design agencies that do not ask you what your site objectives are.

8. Search Engine Ready: Although it appears way down in the list, this is one of the most important factors to consider when hiring a web design company. All your time, effort and money spent in creating an impressive online identity will go down the drain if your site can-not be indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Make sure your web designer knows how to create search engine friendly websites. Make sure you tell them you want a search engine friendly architecture. Even if you do not currently have the resources to hire search engine promotion services, it would be prudent to make sure that your site has a search engine friendly architecture and that you are ready to go when you have the resources.

9. Original designs, original content: Your website is your online identity and should represent what your business stands for. It should be unique and not a pot-pourri of graphics copied and pasted from other sites or a clone of someone else’s website layout. Make sure that your web designer does not use images or text stolen from another site in your designs or you could run into copyright issues. Remember, your website is available anytime, anywhere to anyone who is on the internet and it won’t be long before they discover your site uses someone else’s layout or content.

10. Full service: When you are setting up a small business, you want to focus all your energies on it and not waste time running around trying to find different agencies for web design, database management, hosting, marketing collateral design or printing. Make sure the agency you hire is a one-stop shop and have the wherewithall to provide the bouquet of design and programming services your small business will need over the next few years.

As your business grows, your branding and IT needs will grow. Invest your time and resources with a company that has the potential to deliver during different phases of your business.

Finally, to ensure the success of your project and to help the agency deliver on its promise:

  • Be prepared: You know your business the best. You know your customers the best and you know your industry and competition better than any web designer would. So do your homework and prepare a brief for the web design agency. It would be a recipe for disaster if you leave everything to your designer initially and then get them to do several rounds of changes. Most small business websites are done at low margins and requesting too many changes will only drive the web design firm against the wall, often resulting in reduced commitment and unpleasantness.
  • Trust your design firm: Just as you know your business better than any web design firm, they know web designing better than you do. So, once you tell them what you want, trust them with the creative and the technicalities.
  • Create your own identity: Avoid trying to get your web designer to add all fancy animations that your friends’ and competitors’ website may have. You don’t want a me-too identity for your business, do you?
  • Avoid legal issues: Often times to cut costs, clients ask the web design agency to take images and text from competitors’ websites. While it is unethical and tantamounts to piracy, it can also land you in legal issues with the rightful owner. Google is known to ban erring website links from appearing in search results and display the link to the DMCA complaint instead. Thats not what you want your first time visitors to see on the web about you, do you?
  • Pay on-time: Expect the web designer to stick to the timelines they promise. But remember, they have a business to run and salaries and bills to be paid as well. Pay on-time to avoid any delays or reduced service levels.
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