How to choose the right website designer?

How to choose the right website designer?

Creating and designing a website can be one of the biggest challenges and the most tedious process for a business. Business owners often ask: What kind of website should I have? What should I add to it? What should it look like? What do I want from my website? How much time and effort should I put into it? What would my customers and visitors think of my website? And then, the maintenance of a website is a whole different beast. Even though these are all legitimate concerns, I know that, irrespective of its size, every business must have a website.

Wanting a website is quite different from creating one. You could be an excellent driver, and may even understand cars well enough to make a good buying decision when shopping for a good car, but if asked to build one, how would you feel? I am sure you would feel overwhelmed. If you decide to build one after all, you will spend extraordinary amounts of time and efforts into designing it, then choosing the right colors, selecting the appropriate engine, battery, wires, seats—everything about that car that you have imagined inside and out. It is the same with websites. You are a business owner, and you are already wearing far too many hats on a daily basis. These already consume most of your time. You need to run business operations smoothly and focus on daily operations, improve sales, and cater to customer inquiries and needs. So, you know that you need a website, but you don’t have the time to build one, which means you need a website designer. But you need to hire a “good” website designer. The next question that comes to mind is: how do I choose a good website designer? Here are some tips:

How to choose the right website designer?

Myth: Hiring a website designer will cost a fortune.

You can start by making a list of all the questions you might have, including the ones I have listed above. Begin by actively searching for a designer. Then, shortlist a website designer either based on references from friends, families, and other business colleagues, or by simply picking up the phone and talking to them directly. It is vital that you talk to the web designer and evaluate him/ her yourself, as the person who’s referring might have different needs than yours and the referral may be not be a best fit for your business. See how they reply to your valid questions, how they handle your call/ meeting, how professional they sound and evaluate what they have done that will add value to your business portfolio. For example, if you are an eCommerce business and you are looking at a web designer portfolio that mainly has basic websites, then that designer may not be a good fit or match for you.

A good website designer will take away all your website related worries. They will help you come up with a professional design that suits your business model. They will be able to relate with the demographics of your customers. A particularly important aspect that makes a website successful is the “personality” of a website.

What is meant by personality of a website?

By “personality” I mean that the website reflects principles of ease of use, helps a visitor make a choice, and demonstrates responsiveness. Responsiveness means that your visitors can access the site from any device—laptops, desktops, tablets, iPads, Macbooks, iPhones, Android Phones, Windows Phones, etc. Most web-developers design websites compatible with almost all devices, with only 1-5% of devices that might not be compatible due to foreign software. Another point to consider is security. If you are an eCommerce business, then you are bound to take interac, credit card and PayPal payments. Your website must be secure enough to handle data and must give a sense of security to a visitor, ensuring that they understand that it is safe to make a transaction on your website. You also have to explore web hosting and how they are securing your data. Is the web hosting cloud-based? Where are their servers located? For example, one of our customers was upfront with their demand that the web host be located in Canada with a hosting company that has servers based in Canada. That way, they ensured that their confidential client information was secure and remained within the country of the business. This became their unique selling preposition (USP).

You also want to ensure that your website loads the data fast. Speed is primarily dependent on the type of web hosting plan, web hosting company and the platform in which a website is built. Let us touch base on each briefly:

Things to consider when looking at website elements

Web Hosting Plan:

There are many web hosting plans available in the market offered by various companies. Some companies work with a hosting company to offer plans to their clients, instead of offering direct hosting services. You must be careful with the type of plan you choose. For example, if you are an eCommerce business with 200+ products, you need a bigger hosting plan. If you have a static informational website with 4-6 webpages, you do not need more than a basic plan. Web hosting plans vary from $10 to $50 per month. Exploring different hosting companies and discussing your needs with your web designer will help you find a plan that fits your needs.

Web Hosting Company:

Just like web hosting plans, there are unlimited numbers of companies that offer these plans. A little bit of research can help you make a suitable choice. A lot of companies deal with third-party companies. It is okay to work with them. You just have to keep in mind that having a website hosted with a third-party is different than one that is hosted with your web designer. If you go with your web designer to help you find a web host company, then it is the web designer’s responsibility to ensure 100% uptime. As a web design firm, we offer third-party web hosting. When we design a website and do the hosting, we take full responsibility to ensure your website is up and running all the time.

Website Platform:

This is the most important element for a website. A website can be made in any platform you choose. There are tons of programs available to build a website. What you need to think about and ask yourself is which platform is good for you and why. You need to explore: Would you like to update the content yourself and maintain control of the website? If your answer is yes, then WordPress is the best option. But WordPress also has its limitations, and while it can give you content updating privileges, it cannot handle other elements. For example, if you have multiple stores or warehouses, and shipments are moving from multiple locations and going to customers, then you need to keep track of all stores and origin shipping locations for inventory and product management purposes. This can be done more easily in Laravel (an open-source program like WordPress) instead of WordPress. But if you have a simple online store with a few products and services and one location to ship from then WordPress (WooCommerce) is the right choice. There are many other eCommerce solutions available like Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify and so on. Some programs like Shopify are easy to use, but that “ease” has a price. As a user, you would have to pay for every single transaction on your site to the program admin (Shopify). Initially, as a startup, you might be okay with that payment structure, but as the business grows and you begin seeing 500+ shipments a month, then you will end up paying a large amount as commission on sales to Shopify. Shopify also charges monthly to use its platform. A viable alternative is to have a website of your own by paying one-time web development charges to a we design company and then own the website. I often advise customers to have a customer designed website if you want to grow your business, because while growing you don’t want to be bothered with sales commissions and monthly recurring charges for using a platform. As a web designer, I recommend using platforms like Laravel instead, as it is just as easy to use, and will incur fewer charges in the long run. Hiring a designer for your business will also reduce the time and efforts that you would put into building a website yourself.

As I said earlier, WordPress is great to use for a static, dynamic or an eCommerce website. WordPress has thousands of free web design themes available and ready to use. Again, these free themes come with certain limitations and price tags. With WordPress, you will need to keep in mind the different types of plugins that you use. I often come across business owners who have used a free WordPress theme and plugins but suddenly, those plugins have stopped working. They need a plugin or theme update which often is not available, or they themselves do not have the time to figure out how to fix them. This puts the site out of commission. If an owner relies on online business, this could cause major damage to the business. Good web designers will ensure that they run regular updates to keep your site up and running smoothly, by doing a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) at a minimal cost.

When looking for web designers, you should be exploring your options carefully, keeping in mind the needs of your business. It is imperative to have a website these days. If you have any questions or concerns and want honest advice, let’s have a 30-minute no-obligatory Zoom-meeting session.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *