Insider Tips for Choosing the Right Web Designer

2003 Viki Nygaard

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Stop! Before you rush to build a presence on the Web be careful! So-called Web designers are popping up in all directions. Owning Web creation software does not make one a Web designer. For goodness sake, free web design software can be downloaded from the 'Net in about 20 minutes.

For your site to look professional, function properly and meet search engine submission criteria you need a pro. There are so many Web designers available now... how do you make an intelligent choice as to who to use? Quite frankly, education, talent and skill are the keys.

The Benefits of an Educated Designer

A good Web designer will have some sort of formal education, whether it's from taking online classes, self-study, or a taking a certification program at a local college. Some of the classes they should have under their belt are HTML and javascript - at the very minimum. Here is a listing of the education requirements to become a certified Web designer at one local college:

Logic and Program Design, Introduction to Programming, Web Layout and Design Concepts, Dreamweaver, Database Management, Photoshop, HTML, Flash, UNIX, DHTML, Javascript, CGI and Perl, XML & ColdFusion, Generator, Dreamweaver Ultra Dev, Illustrator and Fireworks.

There is much more to design than pasting clip art onto a page. Find out what kind of formal instruction your potential designer has. Not only should they be educated, but he or she should be continuing their education to keep up with the latest software programs and ever-changing technology.

They Have Skills but Do They Have Talent?

Finding a designer that has the necessary skills is one thing ... but do they have talent, too? A Web designer needs to have that spark of creativity - which is usually a natural talent rather then something that's learned.

Take the time to browse through the Web site and portfolio of your potential Web designer. Are his or her designs pleasing to look at? A designer has creative talent if he or she is able to coordinate colors to represent emotions and perceptions. For example, a feeling of excitement is portrayed with bright, happy colors, calmness with soothing soft colors, impact with vibrant, bold colors. We've all heard the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words". A talented designer knows how to selectively insert graphics into a Web page to enhance and give greater meaning to the copy without it looking like a three-ring circus.

A good designer will be able to create fresh, interesting graphics from scratch, they won't rely on over-used clip art and they won't use other people's designs.

The Value of Experience

Education is of utmost importance, but be sure that knowledge is enhanced with solid experience. Again, take the time to not only view the designer's portfolio, but also interview their previous clients. Was the designer timely and efficient? Did they answer e-mails promptly? Did the designer make an effort to keep them up-to-date on the progress of their Web site? Are they, the client, happy with their Web site design?

Traffic, Traffic, Traffic

A good designer takes the time to educate him/herself on all the elements pertaining to design. Promotion is one of those elements.

Your designer should care about your target audience because the site should be designed with your target group in mind.

Does your main approach to publicity include the top 10 search engines? Then your site should be designed in a way that optimizes it for search engines. While your designer is not a positioning specialist, he/she should have the knowledge to optimize your site for placement. A search engine specialist can be called in to help with the delicate balance of keywords and meta tags that are essential in order for a Web site to get high rankings with the engines.

What about your Web site copy? Designers are not copywriters either. Copywriting is an entirely different specialty. Is your copy targeted? Does it accomplish your sales or promotional goals? Does it promote your business in such a way as to make your visitors want your product or service? Good designers know that the text is an essential element on your site. It plays a major role in search engine positioning and it certainly takes top priority in sales. Once again, a professional can be contacted to write the copy if need be.

Listens With Care

A Web designer should not only carefully listen to your thoughts and ideas about how you want your Web site to look, but should also ask questions and offer suggestions. He or she should also offer explanations as to why a certain idea might or might not work.

You Get What You Pay For

Web designer fees vary drastically. A good rule of thumb is to weigh the designer's price with the amount of experience and the quality of the Web site that designer produces.

In summary, choose your Web designer with the same care as you would a building contractor for your dream home. Ask about their education and qualifications. Carefully review their work. Ask for references and use them. Remember that the design of your Web site is a direct reflection of your business. The professionalism of your Web site design might be the deciding factor that makes or breaks your success.

Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!