How to go about finding the right web design agency for your website needs.
In an ideal situation the first web designer who pitches to you would be the right choice but we do not live in an ideal world and you have to be very careful about how you select the right web design agency for your business needs.
Web design is typically a field where the barriers to entry are very low and anybody can take it up unlike being a doctor or a lawyer. A guy sitting in his bedroom can easily present himself as a web designer. There are no universally adopted standards to measure web designers by nor is there a conclusive organization which certifies them. Web design is not even recognized as a proper profession in some quarters.
What criteria would you use to access a web designer?
While selecting a web designer look for the following:
Credentials – training and qualifications
Skill and experience
Quality of the Portfolio of previous work done
Accessibility (Does he have an office with staff, is he easily available on the phone?)
Affordability ( fees, too less could also be a negative indicator)
Professionalism (does he appear to have a good handle on the entire process)
Does he prepare for your appointment?
Explain the nuances of web designing in layman’s terms?
Keeps appointments and values your time?
Manage an efficient business?
Reviews the status and progress periodically? (you do not have to continually call him)
Does the personality and style of the web designer suit you?
This might appear as an odd question; after all you aren’t looking to marry him/her. But like your relationship with a doctor or lawyer you will be interacting with your web designer for a long time and it makes sense that you should like spending time with him/her. As your business grows so will your work with him/her.
Some indicators to look for would be
Does he talk to you as an equal? Does he take time to listen to your views?
Is he friendly and easy going? (You don’t want a grouchy web designer, trust me).
Does he have the patience to explain things to you in details?
Does the web designer understand your business and have a long term vision for it?
Although web design principles are the same; each business is unique in its needs and challenges. A good web designer should be able to study your business and formulate a strategy best suited for you.
A good web designer will usually:
Chalk out a long term strategy plan for your online business
Will create action points for immediate implementation
Will suggest multiple avenues to market your business online not just the website
Will plan for eventualities and support required
Will be transparent and honest about costs, time and deliverables.
What are the risks of going to an amateur or freelance web designer for your business?
Many businesses do not do their due diligence and end up with a web designer completely unsuitable for their requirements. This happens more often than not and I have heard real horror stories about projects gone terribly wrong.
Choosing the wrong designer could lead to the following repercussions:
Your project gets indefinitely delayed. What should take a couple of weeks takes 2-6 months.
The designer is not able to handle the technical challenges of the project and abandons it mid-way.
A free-lance web designer gets a good job offer and takes it up leaving only the weekends to do your work (happens a lot).
He underestimates the costs or comes down to low during negotiations and is unable to complete the work due to shortage of funds.
The web designer out sources your work to another agency creating a time consuming and confusing chain of work. The client pays the penalty for miscommunication and shoddy work. (I was once asked by a ‘web design firm’ to design their own site)
Some agreements you must make your web designer stick to during a project
There are certain requirements you must get your web designer to agree to. A good web designer will do this without being asked but it never hurts to discuss these with the designer and make sure everyone is on the same page.
A web designer should or must:
Keep the client in the loop at every stage of the work and ensure the work gets done in a phased measurable manner.
Must spend time with the client to understand his/her business and discuss at length goals and targets for the project.
Must be available to the client during business hours to respond to any issues raised by the client.
Must immediately bring to the attention of the client any challenges or problems when they come up. There should be no hidden surprises.
Must provide the clients proper accounts and bills for money spent and invested in the project.
In return the web designer has the right to expect the following:
The client shares all relevant aspects of the business with the designer
Provides all material and information on time as requested by the web designer.
Respects the designer’s opinion and judgment on all web related matters.
Offers the web designer constructive and meaningful feedback.
Respects the web designer’s time and efforts.
Makes sure the web designer is fairly and promptly compensated for his efforts.
Unfortunately the web design industry in India is filled with a lot of unscrupulous people who take clients for a ride. For a business looking to make a site it is importance to do their due diligence and make sure that the web designer is the right fit for their business.