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I'd recommend that you read the article "Your Web Presence" located in the Expert tab. It's a great article that talks about key considerations for selecting an appropriate web company and minimum things you should have/require on your website.
I have a lot of experience in this field as the owner of a creative design firm who has worked with clients building websites ranging from local small businesses to Disney and Fox.
- Find a recommended and reputable designer that you can trust. Be willing to spend a little more money for the experience. Your neighbor's college son may be able to help you okay, but would you really stake your business on it to save a few dollars?
- Your designer should lead you through the process so that they can best research and fulfill your needs. Some designers like starting points (good and bad examples of your likes/dislikes). Some need only a brief description or outline. All designers will need some or all of the following: copy (text), contact information, product/service info, photos, logos, colors, typography, legal information, and lastly, a thorough outline of the site including needed pages, goals, descriptions, etc.
- Also, have a clear gameplan in order and a list of goals you want to accomplish with your website. The aesthetic design, functionality, interface, user interaction, ease of use, ease of communicating your key points, etc should be all part of the plan. As you are working on the site, take progress ive steps to ensure that you are getting what you need.
Happy designer hunting!
Do you have a Small Business Development Center near you? This is a program of the Small Business Administration. I am a counselor at one in Northern California. We have business counselors to help small biz owners on many topics, including web development. The counselor will not create the web site for you, but can help you define your requirements, help you understand what to look for in a web developer and help you feel more comfortable talking to your developer. It is a great service--and it is free!
Let me add one thing, which I didn't find in the postings before.
- Make yourself clear, what scope 'my webdesigner' has to cover. Are you looking for somebody, who
A can implement your own concept (you have already created a map and a layout of your page(s))? Then you need a programmer. The call themselves designer from time to time, since it involves a lot of things, which you only discover after looking at them, in other words, design here is mostly 'does it look as excpected?" Or are you looking for someone, who \\ B helps you with the map and layout of the pages before the implementation? Those people call temselves designer too, since it is the design of the web pages literally. They know, what elements/structure works for certain clientele and products/services OR are you looking for someone, who \\ C helps you findung out what you really want, what clientele, how to approach those, what are your customers really looking for, how do attract your customers come to your site and don't ignore it, how to leverage social networks, blogs etc to drive traffic to your site etc., they sometimes call themselves designer too, since their customers are looking for designers and not consultants.
- it goes without saying that C includes often B includes often A in the offering to you and correlates with the fee you have to expect to pay. BUT if you havent't done C before B before A you might find out later that the money wasn't well spent.
If you are on a strict budget, I would say take it to a local community college or university, and ask them if they are looking for a semester project.
Many advanced courses in web design require this. The teacher will make sure that everything is done correctly, and you have the benefit of it being vetted by 5 or 6 geek egos (all of whom think their ways are best). In addition, they will have something to show off for their portfolio. It's a win-win.
While I agree with Steller's comments on not hiring someone straight out of college to do the work, having the oversite of a Computer Science professor will make all the difference in the world. It should ensure quality for the entire project.
Also, make sure that your site is "indexable" in the search engines. Join SEOMoz...it's free, and their members will educate you on the process of selecting a designer http://www.seomoz.org . I don't work for them, but their services are so great, that I could never write a post without mentioning them in some way shape or form.
This is a great tip, because (some, not all) designers will let you go after your site is up and running. They either will charge you a lot for your updates, will take their sweet time if they've got work to do on higher projects, or just let you go.
If you build an e-commerce flash is fun but will not bring anything on Search Engines Opitimization.
I recommend you joint a webmasters community like: forums.digitalpoint.com/
Before you select a web designer, it is very important that you are clear that what you want your website to do? Do you want informative site, showcase all your products and drive them to store for buying clothes, offer clothes from online shopping cart, local market or nationwide market.
Based on your need, I think you should decide which level of website designer you should approach. I feel you should make site with lot of images & flash banner to showcase your products as client should like your collection to visit your local store. Create a mailing list on your website so when you have special promotions, you can email it to your list.
Once you have idea of what you need on your site, ask for suggestions from the web designer. You want to make sure you spend your money wisely and expect a ROI for website development. Every functionailty adds to the cost of the website so select wisely what you need for your website.
See the following link http://officeliveoffers.com/ebook/MS2eBook.pdf
No need to pay expensive designers. See the real live examples at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officelive/FX102038451033.aspx
Let me know if this helped.
Microsoft Office Live is a suite of Internet–based services for small businesses, designed to
get you up and running online quickly and easily—all you need is a computer and an Internet
Microsoft Office Live services allow you to create a professional online presence without the
expense of buying a server, setting up a complicated infrastructure and hiring technical staff
to maintain it.
Office Live includes everything you need to create a professional website, including a free
domain name (e.g., www.adventure-works.com), easy site design tools (no HTML required),
web hosting, company-branded e-mail accounts, online tools to market your site, and even
your own intranet site—an online and central space to store documents, customer information
and project status. Plus, you get simple online applications and tools to better collaborate
with customers, employees and business stakeholders.
And the best part: Most of this is FREE!
would you mind pointing me to one site you or somebody elsecreated using this tool suite? I assume you or the sonembody else is not a designer.
I am looking forward to it.
Yes, just go to the followin link: (copy and paste this link in your internet explorer)
There you will see a number oc ustomer tutorials and you can contact these people on how they used the tool.
I am in the process of setting a new site up as well, however did not complete it yet.
Hope this helps.
Get a contract - get CSS - get it right from the off - get everything search engine friendly before you launch and be careful there are a lot of webmasters out there adding on SEO that know nothing about the subject - if the Website Design firm say they use the "keywords tag" run away ;)
I would (knowing what I know now) start with a really good SEO person and let them find you a great designer that will work with the SEO person and you.
It really is a from the ground and WAY UP if you get it right.
My husband does software and web design. Over the years he has often been contacted about designing websites. One things we've observed over and over is the descrepancy between what a person expects from a web designer and what a web designer actually does.
Keep in mind the various parts of a good e-commerce site:
Product pictures - do you have stock photos from a vendor? Do you need to either take pictures or hire someone to take pictures? After you have the pictures who will edit them and make them 'web ready'?
Product descriptions and content - The most perfectly designed website won't do you any good without content. Who is writing the copy for your website?
Site design - a well designed site is more than just a pleasing color scheme and a catchy logo. It is also easy to navigate and search engine friendly. It's nice to have a pretty site. It's profitable to have one that customers and use and search engines can spider.
Shopping cart - A good ecommerce site has an integrated shopping cart that can process orders and payments in a way that suits your business. There is a lot of difference between an e-commerce site selling merchandise and an information or recruiting site.
These are issues to go over with potential web designers. What are they delivering? What do they need from you in order to deliver? Ask to see other e-commerce sites they have created. Ask for references.
Remember that web design is your typical bell curve. There are a few really exceptional website. There are a few really horrible one. Most are okay.
That's a good information for new e-commerce owners !
Many people focus on Flash design, like I said before that's pretty but I will never buy myself a product from a site like that, because you need to wait the loading each time you are clicking. For demonstration that's a great way to go but not for an e-commerce.
One thing I forgot to mention is buy your own domain name and have control of it yourself.
For instance Go Daddy - Park the domain and do a DNS change to your website that way a "seedy webmaster" hasn't got you nailed.
I was nailed a year ago like that because my registrar was TUSCOWS, and they don't deal with individuel rather than resellers.
The good base is an independant registrar, then a hosting company. It is difficult to find a good hosting company for many reasons:
Are their server down often?
Do they allow enough memorries allocation to your account? Little hosting company just ad websites as many as they can on their little server, if you have a powerful system cart on your site and not enough memories or a server highly loaded, your data base will not open and close the cart properly.
How long do they take to respond from a problem? Some are taking a sweet time to answer, and this is not good to be down a long time for ranking on search engines, sales. I experienced 15 days down with one hosting company, and needed to leave them because they did not find their problem.
Etc... So be safe when you take these services
I expect you mean Tucows???
Go Daddy or their offshoot Domains priced Right are serving me well and always answer the phone solve the problem
I have to say this wasn't always the case but to get a real person on the 'phone these days is amazing so well done Bob Parsons for creating the service
With domains priced right they have a super effective (for SEO) 301 redirect too ;)
Yes I meant Tucows, sorry about that. They only deal with resellers (hosting companies or domain wholesalers)
I read something about goddy using a no follow for the first 6 months on new domains to avoid spammers. I am not a fan of Network Solutions and Enom, they host many spammers and when you've got a domain highjacked they do nothing if the domain was bought from a reseller. They are plenty of good registrars and hosting companies like http://www.4domains.com/ they are rock solid and are always there to help customers. They also have a live chat tech if you need to solve quickly a technical problem.
Nat - Go Daddy don't use a no follow - i did a check with them and the rep said that would be against the ICANN TOS
Basically it's up to Google etc to sort out the spam
I was with enom once and it was a bad experience getting control of a dom name again
That really is the main reason I use GD or Domains Priced Right (same thing) plus I just love the 301 redirect :)
Ref: Tucows - they've been around forever and i didn't really like them but their other company domaindirect were always OK - even though I'm not with them now.
Ever get the idea I've been around the block with hosting???
One of the easy build it yourself services is ZyWorld based in my native England and I did use them for years and years
Right now I just blog through LivingDot who have the ultimate in CS - No I don't know them :) nor am I plugging anyone
France 9 England 14 - Nice Rugby Chaps
Ahahhaha congratulations David: England 14 - France 9 ;-)
My domain store was created by Enom via a reseller hosting company, then I move my domain and hosting to Québec, Canada (worse experience I ever had with technical issues server), then I decided to split domain and hosting and followed advises from webmaster members on http://www.v7n.com
I cannot thank them enough for all the good advises they provided me. I really think if you want to do everything yourself you must be member of this kind of forum, then help others.
Internet is a great tool, but unfortunately there are sharks/scam artists/hackers/spammers. All webmasters I know, they all had bad experience with a service or guys listed above. When you've got a solid experience then that start to be enjoyable.
David, time to pull a beer from the fridge and celebrate the victory of England ;-)
See my earlier post, if you would, from another thread:
Website design - do I pay by the hour or lump sum?
I'm the last entry (MTCreations) - lots of info and links to answers you have.
Other folks have given some decent advice, except for the college-class one - what happens when you need help, and do you really want a total rookie messing up your website, branding, first attempt at getting some business on the internet?
Hope this helps.
One would hope that the instructor would not let this happen.
what does a college professor care for with regards to your site - that's so last semester. And 10x so for a college student?
And I was a college professor, wed dev classes and all, and I would NEVER inflict a new student on a new website project - they need a lot more experience, not just an A in a classroom, to build an effective website.
Why is it always the cheapest solution that is sought out? Why is web design (and graphic design in general) seen as such a toss-away commodity? sigh
I was NOT advocating for a cheap solution. Your 'rant' was uncalled for. I was not advocating that website design be seen as a toss away commodity. I am sure that you have a great deal of fabulous experience but don't take one comment and 'loose it' against the poster.
If you go back and re-read all of the answers you may discover that I was not the one SUGGESTING that college students be employed.
sorry - rant was not directed at you, but the marketplace in general.
Now THAT I understand. I was absolutely near fainting (because I felt like our project was not worthy...) when I approached my designer and asked him to work with me....he is very experienced.....very and terribly talented....and has this 'inutuitive-design-ness' in his soul. I can verbalize an idea and its as if magic happens and there it is. These people are rare....and yes the marketplace as well as the marketing industry is terrible towards them. Imagine my amazement when he said to me: "I thought you'd never ask!!!"
I have had to put my foot down several times to 'the market' and say: "The design is what it is. It says what it says. Get over it." Jim is designing our brand....and he knows what he is doing.
In the web world when there are ba-zillions (maybe not THAT many) of would be entrepreneurs...building a brand is a monumental task. That task can ONLY be accomplished wiith a fabulous designer who takes the time to just 'know'. The problem is there as well with CEO/fiance people who fail to see DESIGN as an integral part of the way they do business.
I rest my case with: Monster.com; Chilis, Coke, Pepsi, Tide, PanAm.
Every answer here has been very good, but I would add to make sure you have a designer that LISTENS to you and is able to VISUALLY COMMUNICATE YOUR UNIQUE VISUAL MESSAGE.
Best of Luck, DomainDiva
Get to know your web hosting company. Ther are your best source of information. Examples of websites are great, but your site should be that of your own design. Don't just copy another. That is tacky and frowned upon. Decide which direction you want to go. Online commerce. Credit card payments. PayPal, or eBay. Do you want your website to stand on its own or be part of a much larger group. Much to think about. Flash, Joomla!, and Drupal are just a few buzz words to consider. If I can be of any help, just ask!
Web Designers vary. You have designers working at a web firm, workers who are employed by a company (other then a web firm), and you have freelancers.
Each have their own styles of work and some may be too big to meet your needs or too small and unexperienced it can also be a little of both. Its based on the persons personality and willingness to work with you to form the "business relationship".
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I'm thinking about hiring a web designer to create a website for my clothing store. It would be great to one day sell my clothing online, but for starters just having a website up would be great. I've never worked with a web designer before, so I'm not sure how I should prepare. For example, am I expected to provide examples of websites that I like? What should I expect, and what information should I provide to the web designer?