Working with Website Designers
Also available in Spanish.
Considerations for those looking to hire someone to build a website.
This article is targeted at business owners, small and large who are interested in getting a web site built for them. When approaching a website design firm, or individual web designers, these preliminary questions will go a long way in forwarding the project.
Although this article is speaking to the business looking to hire a web designer, the information is also relevant to web designers and is recommended reading for people new to web design.
Questions about the site:
1. What is the goal of the web site?
That is the first question you have to answer. Do you want to sell something to end-user; do you need to e-commerce enable it? Is it a support site for your offline business, an information resource or contact point? Or is it simply a branding tool?
2. How big will it be, how many pages?
3. Do you perceive the need for any special technologies? For example, are you interested in FLASH animation, protected directories, hooking your product catalogue database into the site?
4. What is your target launch date; when do you want this site live?
5. Do you already have a domain name and/or an existing web site?
6. Have you looked into hosting or do you need the web designer to handle that for you?
7. If you are already hosting your site somewhere you need to let the web designer know what type of servers the web site is sitting on and what technology they will need to work with. Examples of such server-related technologies include: ASP, PHP, MySQL, SQL server etc …
This piece of information can be very important when dealing with the web designers, as they may not have the skills to use the technology that your current servers support. In that situation, if you want to work with certain web designers you may need to switch servers.
8. Your budget: Some people don’t like to give out their budget and wait to get bids. While others will give a ballpark figure of what they are looking to spend. This 2nd option helps give an idea to the web designers on what scale you are looking to build the web site. When you go out for RFP (request for proposal) the more detailed your specification is, the more accurate quote you are going to get.
Choose a web designer or firm that matches your business:
You will find that in this business just like many others, there are specialist and levels of experience. You need to judge what your project is in terms of size and subject and try to pick a company or web designer that match’s you. If you’re a small company it might be a better choice to find yourself a free-lancer type of designer rather than the big firm. And the opposite is true for larger companies. Also consider the experience of the company/designer you are looking at, have they created sites of the same nature in the past, have they worked on other web projects for companies in the same or similar field?
Be flexible with the details of the site:
As the client you have every right to have the site delivered to you the way you want it. But it is always wise to be flexible in those micro-requirements and defer to the experience of the web designers. Sometimes they (the web designers) may see a better way of implementing some feature that is different from what you had envisioned. Many times this alternate method will in the end give you a better web site. Why hire experts and not listen to them?
Web designers should work with an iterative process:
The larger the site, the more this rule comes into play. I have found over the years that most clients are not exactly sure what they want until they see it. Or perhaps more accurately, they know what they don’t want when they see it! As such I have developed an iterative process in web design. My goal is to get out something for the client to see as quickly as possible so I can get feedback. You should look for this in the process of building your site as it helps to eliminate potential misunderstandings and speeds up the project production as well.
If you liked the article and you want to see more let me know!