How to select a web designer

To select a web designer, in our opinion, you really need to meet with them. You need to have a good conversation about what it is you want to achieve and how they think you should best go about doing that. You should feel comfortable that they understand your business and they understand your market and your audience. A website and strategy that is successful for a law firm may not be successful for a ski holiday company. It's important that the designer you are talking to can be flexible and has the knowledge and experience to find a solution that is perfect for your circumstance.

It's also important that you know whether they are going to do all the work themselves, as we discussed in what is a web designer, web design is a very broad church, it's a very talented individual that can be an expert in all the required areas. Do you think the web designer you're talking to is that person or do they have a team of people who specialise is the many areas we identified here, and here. Are they going to outsource aspects of the project, in which case to whom? Ideally you want to know about all the people that are going to be involved in your project, you might not need to meet them all but you should be able to know who they are and see examples of their work.

People often ask what qualification should they look for when choosing a web designer, there are formal qualifications but really a designer's strongest qualification is his or her portfolio. From a portfolio you can see if a designer has a specific style, how flexible they are within that to create sites with different character, whether in general they create sites you like or you think fit with your business, how successful these sites are – do they rank well in search engines, have you heard of them before, how easy they are to use, etc., etc.

Other things to look for are:

  • How professional do you think they are – anyone can create a website, most people could knock something up in Frontpage in a day, and CMS systems like WordPress mean you can have something up in less time even than that. If that's all you need that's fine, but if you are looking to create a unique, branded website that accurately reflects your company and provides users with a superior service you might not want to pay someone to put together a generic WordPress site in 20 minutes.
  • Do they have a structured planning process that leads you through the design phase, do you have any recourse for design revisions.
  • What is their payment plan, are they working to a fixed quote or being paid per hour. Are they going to invoice you monthly or at certain milestones
  • Will they maintain your site after the initial build and how much will they charge for that
  • Do you like and trust this person - you are going to have to work with them for some months and probably take their advice many times, this could prove tricky if you don't like them or believe that they know what they are talking about or have your best interests at heart
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Link Metric's search engine optimisation work took us from a brand new site, not even listed in Google let alone ranking for any of our highly contested terms, to page 1 in Google in 12 months.

For many of our top performing terms we now have 4 or even 5 separate pages in the top 10, we dominate the first page of results!

Our increase in traffic has been phenomenal; I can't recommend Link Metric enough.

Tim Taylor, Foster Fridge

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