You’re savvy. You know that at its heart, your business isn’t building websites – so you’re going to hire a professional.
Your website is a pivotal part of your marketing strategy. Now you need to make the right choice for a web designer.
You can’t risk getting lost in the sea of nearly 1.3 billion sites on the internet. You can’t leave yourself open to the risk of losing sales.
Or worse, denting your reputation with a less than impressive website.
Before you sign a web design contract, double check that you aren’t making any of these common mistakes.
1. Not Knowing Your Core Requirements
How can you get the website that’s right for your business if you don’t know your core requirements?
We don’t mean technical requirements. We mean required functionality and outcomes.
For example, a secure shopping cart could be a required function. So too could be integration with your inventory system or customization of what visitors see based on past buying habits.
Examples of more specific outcomes include:
- Ranking in the top 3 search results
- Improving conversion rates by 10%
- Increasing newsletter subscriptions by 23%
Before you take steps to find and hire a web designer, meet with your core team to document your business requirements. Use your strategic and operational plans to guide the conversation.
You can even divide the completed list of requirements into three groups:
- Must have now
- Must have within [specified time frame]
- Nice to have
Share the requirements with prospective web designers. Focus on gaining confidence that they can handle at least the first two categories.
2. Not Sharing Your Business Objectives and Marketing Strategy
Website requirements make more sense when presented alongside business objectives and marketing strategy.
Those documents offer context. They allow the web design team to collaborate effectively as they help you reach your business goals.
3. Not Knowing If They Are Also Developers
Once upon a time, web designers would provide look and feel. Programmers made the site work.
In recent years, the silos between these two skill sets have dissolved. Design and functionality are intertwined. Neither designers nor coders can ignore the other’s need and perspective.
That’s why professional web design businesses have developers on board.
Don’t hire a web designer who says you also have to hire a developer. You don’t need the headache of managing two vendors who will inevitably step on each other’s toes.
4. Not Checking Their Website
It’s easy for any business to fall victim to the “shoemaker’s children” syndrome. That is, they’re so busy building websites for others that they don’t have time to build and manage their own.
Hire a web designer that is professional and staffed well enough to allocate resources to their own website. It’s evidence of their ability and talent.
5. Not Paying a Competitive Rate
Like most things in life, if you pay much less than the going rate, you’re apt to get lower quality, experience delays, or encounter rework.
6. Not Checking References
Ask each prospective vendor for the names of three people they worked for in the past two years. Get individual names, not just company names.
You want to talk to the person who interacted the most with the web designer. You don’t want the name of the person who managed the contract and billing.
After talking with references, you should know:
- If they would use those web services again, including why
- If there were any issues related to schedule, budget, or quality and how the web designer responded to those issues
- What they got from the experience that they didn’t expect
- How satisfied are they/the company with the final result
If those answers give you confidence, you are one step closer to finding the right web designer for your project.
7. Not Knowing the Process and Cost of Maintenance
Will you or the web designer maintain the website?
In most cases, it’s a little of both. Content is maintained in-house. Technological functionality, including security and backups, are managed by a third-party unless you have a dedicated IT team.
Before beginning the project, get an understanding of what’s involved with maintenance. This is critical because you need to allocate and prepare operational resources. Too often, websites are built then are left to go stale because there was no planning for maintenance up front.
8. Not Getting a Content Management System
No one in your organization should need how to code to update the site’s content. Nor should you be reliant on the web designer to do that for you.
Before you hire a web designer, make sure the site they build includes a content management system (CMS). WordPress and SharePoint are two of the most popular web platforms that come with a CMS.
With a CMS, anyone who knows how to use Office or similar products can quickly learn how to add new standard content, monitor comments sections, and more.
9. Not Getting a Dynamic Mobile Friendly Site
Static sites have all content and functionality coded into each page.
Dynamic sites hold text, images, and information about how the page should look in files apart from the page file. This creates tremendous flexibility in how and when content is displayed.
According to a 2016 study, nearly 52% of people use smartphones or tablets for internet searches and online purchases.
Don’t leave more than half your potential and existing customers struggling to view a static site on their mobile device. Insist that your web designer develop a site that is attractive and easy to use on desktops and mobile screens.
10. Not Testing the Site Yourself
Any professional web designer should include site testing in their scope of work.
But don’t let that lull you into thinking you don’t also need to test the site. Before you hire a web designer, make it clear that you will need access to test the site twice. First in a test environment. Second when it’s live.
They can test what they program as far as the functionality. You can also test how the site will likely get used.
You know best what your customers look for. Before the site goes live, pretend you’re a potential or existing customer looking for information and/or take an action.
When to Hire a Web Designer
The best time to hire a web designer is before you’re in critical need of a new or revamped website.
The key to a site that’s beautiful, easy to navigate, and has all the necessary functionality to support your business goals is planning.
Do yourself and your prospective web designer a favor. Start the conversation early. Use the common mistakes we’ve listed as a checklist before and during the project.
Are you ready to get your project off the ground? Do you have more questions about web design? Get in touch!
We specialize in helping businesses in Denver, Colorado and surrounding area but are happy to hear from companies in other regions.