Considerations prior to hiring a web designer:
1. Number of years experience: There are many tricks and pitfalls of web design, especially when it comes to cross-browser and platform compliance. A newer web designer will not have the experience to recognize the subtle differences between browsers, or even know how to properly test.
2. Range of portfolio: If the web designer has worked too much on one site, and not worked on a large number of different sites, he/she may not have dealt with all of the browser/platform nuances.
3. Price: You’ve heard the saying that you get what you pay for. Often the reverse is true with web design. I’ve seen very expensive sites come out looking average. Just because our rates are a bit lower than the competition, do not expect lower quality.
4. Execution: Can they deliver on time? When working with an individual, or person with less experience, or perhaps someone who doesn’t build web sites as a profession such as your sister’s neighbor, consider that they may never finish your site.
5. Accuracy: Is the code accurate, inaccurate or poorly written code will slow page load time significantly.
6. Punctuality: Where is the web designer when you need an instant change? We are available for changes within a 48 hour period. Often we hear horror stories of sites built that don’t work, and the web designer is nowhere to be found.
7. Search Engine Submission: Can they get you top placement for your keywords, you will know if they can if they can demonstrate top placement for their portfolio site. We don’t mean obscure words that nobody searches on, we mean actual phrases that you would type in, such as: Bay Area web design.
8. Compliance: Ask your web designer what Section 508 compliance is and be prepared for a blank stare. Ask them again what Bobby certification is, or why it is important, and expect another blank stare. The world wide web consortium has guidelines for valid HTML, CSS, and 508 compliance. Did you know that 95% of all web sites are NOT compliant? Demand that your web designer explain to you why NOT to use tables for layout, another blank stare?
9. Usability: Can your web designer make a form element appear the same size in both browsers? How does the site look on Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8. How about Firefox and Chrome browsers?
10. Communication: Does the person or company that you are considering hiring speak good English? Do they talk with jargon or words that you don’t understand, then scoff when you ask for an explanation? This is common, that either the person does not communicate well, or they will talk over your head in attempt to impress and confuse. You might also ask to speak with the person you will be working with, not the sales person.
A few things we have seen that might be considered not so great for the customer include:
- High rates for hosting or maintenance
- Monthly rates for “SEO Maintenance” – SEO shouldn’t really need maintenance until the site slips, so why pay monthly?
- Outsourcing your project, or difficult to understand accents
- Speaking to you with jargon in order to justify costs
- Inflated Social Media Integration costs (this should be setting up an account if needed, and linking to it, less than 30 minutes of work)
- Inability to complete projects due to overbooking
- Late fees for delivering content past a certain time
- Fees for using a credit card to pay for your site
- Billing an hours labor for 20 minutes work (minimum charges)
- Ugly or boring sites that don’t look great, and perhaps do not function on all version and browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome
- Content locked to a company such as superpages. They will build the site but if you want to move it, you lose your site both the content AND the design.
- High yearly cost: again Superpages.com is a great example. They want $1k/year to host your site? Ouch, we charge $120/year for the hosting.