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We all have a basic instinct about people, which we may put on the back burner for whatever reason. However, I urge you to tune in and locate the web designer who matches who you are as a person.
For instance, in speaking with prospective web designers, make certain they wouldn't do anything you wouldn't do if you knew how to design your own website. If your web designer suggests that you link to multiple popular websites similar to yours without gaining permission to do so, and you feel that the blind one-way link strategy doesn't sound right to you, then stay away from it and find an alternative web designer.
You will quickly get a feeling of which web designer matches or exceeds your level of integrity. This web designer will be as open and honest with you about your options as you are with your requests and feedback.
A web design portfolio is an extension of a resume; it demonstrates the capabilities of the person or company that is offering a web design service.
These portfolios will typically contain sample web pages, sample web page designs and links to previously developed web pages for other clients. Samples can come in either a digital or paper form, or a mixture of both. For example, a web design company might include paper examples of web page designs with a brochure to a client, along with links to web pages that they have developed as samples or for previous clients.
Because a web design portfolio is a demonstration of the capabilities and talent of the designer, no web designer should be hired before their web design portfolio has been looked over and examined.
A good web design company will dedicate themselves to your project. An average web design project lifecycle is 2-3 months. Small web design projects (15 pages or less with few programming features) will likely take less time, and very complex web design projects may take longer than 3 months. Generally web design companies complete projects faster than in-house developers because web design companies can dedicate multiple web designers and web programmers to each project.
Here are some great questions to ask a potential web design company.
Does this web design company...
• Offer a complete solution by designing, programming, marketing and hosting its clients' web sites?
• Use a project manager to supervise the web design project and serve as a single point of client contact?
• Dedicate multiple web designers and web programmers to each project?
• Employ a staff of highly educated, enthusiastic and creative individuals?
• Perform all services in-house?
• Implement a quality control and web design workflow management process?
• Utilize a private customer login center so clients of the web design company can watch the web design process as it happens?
• Work efficiently within all deadlines?
• Provide fixed project costs and stay under budget?
• Offer a one-year written warranty on all web design work?
• Have a post-development department inside the web design company to efficiently handle updates after a Web site goes online?
• Provide excellent references?
• Offer an impressive and robust portfolio of web design work?
• Possess a proven track record of more than five years in the web design industry?
• Win national awards for its web sites?
• Have a web marketing department that achieves top search engine rankings for its clients?
• Maintain a stable financial record?
When a company is advertising the services of all of the collective employees, it is important to demonstrate the wide variety of expertise and talent that is present amonsgt the company's staff.
To acheive this, a company's professional web design portfolio should have examples from each employee that showcase their individual areas of technical and aesthetic expertise.
A professional web design portfolio will generally be larger than an individual's, and may be laid out across categories or sections instead of being lumped together into one single web page or document.
A Flash web design portfolio should be diverse, but not so much so that it drives potential clients away because it seems "all over the map." It is important to maintain consistency, and be able to show proficiency in something time and again.
It should contain examples of webpage introductions or splash pages, high-quality animations that may have garnered attention on the Internet, any interactive animations (such as games or tutorials) and all novel or unique designs.
The portfolio should be put on a CD or DVD as well as on a website, and be playable in a standard computer in case the potential client is unable to view the portfolio online.
Web design companies can be found locally, nationally or internationally. Local web design companies can be found by using the local yellow pages or performing a query in a search engine for "web design company" with the addition of your local city or town in the search field.
National and/or international web design companies can be found through a search engine with a phrase like "web design company." They can also be found by contacting companies who have webpages you like and finding out who they hired to design their website.
When a web designer first begins their career, it can be beneficial to have a portfolio that they have established through the development of their own private work. A portfolio can include test websites that they have developed, personal sites that they have created, or other graphics-related work that they may have worked on for friends or relatives.
Until they have performed work for clients, creating their own work for display in their portfolio is the best way to gain experience, and ultimately, exposure. While they could always include what they developed in graphics art classes and use it in their portfolio, it may not be of the highest quality since they were learning how to create the material while it was being produced.
Finding a web designer is usually not a problem; identifying one who is reliable and who can do the job you want, however, can be the challenge.
Many designers work for companies that specialize in web design (such as www.352media.com) and can be found through searches in the local yellow pages or through a query in your favorite search engine. These designers are typically quality professionals, but the downside is that they can charge a lot of money for their services.
Other places to find web designers are at local colleges and universities, because graphics students routinely like to get practice and offer up their services for very little money in order to gain experience and exposure. Finally, classified ads and online classifieds are common places for web designers to both advertise their services and look for jobs.
A web design portfolio is as important--or more so--than the resume of the person or company that is providing a web design service.
Because it is a demonstration of their technical and graphical expertise and talent, no person or company should be hired unless they can present samples of their work to prospective clients.
These samples can come in many forms, but they should be reviewed and compared to the work of other web designers before a final decision to hire a web designer is made.
The best way to subjectively select a web design company is to first perform a web design case study, which will rank possible companies according to criteria such as years of experience, technical expertise and services offered.
The next step is to then compare the companies in a subjective manner by looking at their aesthetic quality, design quality and color coordination. These criteria will vary from user to user depending upon the user's needs and requirements. This is an extremely important step in selecting a company because if one is chosen that does not have the ability to meet the aesthetic requirements of their client, then they will not be able produce the requested product no matter how much effort they put in, or how much technical expertise they posses.
The most important thing you should look for is a web design company with an extensive and diverse web design portfolio. Make sure the web design company has the staff and resources to complete a project similar to yours, and seek letters of reference from past web design clients. Review the web design company's portfolio to get a feel for its quality of work and level of experience. Also, take note if the web design company has won any awards for its Web site designs.
Secondly, make sure the web design company's designers and programmers work under a project manager. Utilizing a project manager ensures your project will be completed on time and within budget. Many web designers and web programmers are good at their specific trade but are not experienced enough to efficiently manage and organize an entire project. Also, a project manager will serve as the single point of contact on your project, so you will not be shuffled around to many different people.
In this era of dot-com disasters, look for a web design company that has been in business for at least five years and has a stable financial record.
Make sure to ask about the web design company's quality control and development process, and check for a written warranty on its web design work.
Finally, watch out for web design companies that subcontract work to offshore firms to save money.
A good web design company will assign an entire development team to each project. By choosing a web design company over developing a project in house, you are harnessing the knowledge of a creative team of web designers, web programmers and web marketing professionals, as well as a management team with years of experience on the internet. You would have to recruit and hire several full-time employees to match what a good web design company can offer.
You can utilize the services of a Web designer without hiring a full service firm. Many Web designers and Web programmers do freelance design work. By hiring your own project team outside of an established Web design firm, you may realize tremendous cost savings. The downside may be that you have to do additional work to track down a freelancer and it may be harder to obtain references. Another alternative to hiring a Web design firm would be to contact a professional staffing agency, especially one that specializes in creative and marketing services. They often pre-screen candidates for you with a lengthy work application process, portfolio review, and reference check.
Making the decision to hire the right Web site design company to create an Internet presence for your business is no straightforward task. However, by investigating the appropriate sources, selecting the Web site design company that best meets your goals and needs, can be simplified.
•You can begin your search by exploring the memberships of design professional organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA at www.Aiga.org) and the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG at gag.org).
• Check the periodicals catering to Web site design professionals. The magazines often highlight companies with innovative or unique design and marketing angles.
• Allocate some time to surf the Internet and browse through your competition's company Web site. You can often identify the design professionals who created the Web site design by referencing the company Web site.
• Soliciting references from a designer is also another good way to find the best Web Site design company for your business. Perhaps you've used a graphic designer or company in the past who focuses solely on print media. Engage your established contact for new resources to create a Web site for your online presence.
The best way to objectively select a web design company is by performing a web design case study. In this type of study, a user will choose a small pool of potential design companies and objectively compare them to one another through a variety of ranking methods.
These methods can include the services that each company offers, the technical expertise of the companies, the number of previous clients the companies have and how long the companies have been in business.
If the companies are ranked properly, then the ones that are the best will rise to the top of the pile. From there, the user can perform subjective selection based upon other criteria such as aesthetics and design quality.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|