Launching a new business is a very stressful journey. One of the main stressors is completing a seemingly endless list of required tasks to get things up and running. Even if you are just taking your existing business online, there are still a multitude of questions that need to be answered, many of which did not exist in a traditional setting.
What kind of website do you need?
Before you even look for a designer, you should consider what kind of website you want. Find a few sites that interest you. Be ready to refer to sites of similar businesses as well. You should think about what kind of information you want to include on your site and how active you want to be online in the process of attracting visitors to your site.
What is your budget?
Of course you should know how much money you can invest. If you want a cookie-cutter website, that would be the least expensive and fastest option. It would also limit what you could do but, if you have limited funds, it may work for now. If you require something that is custom built to your specifications, that will take more time, effort and expertise and therefore cost more. To decide which is more likely, look at the very bottom of the websites you like. It will usually have a credit listed that specifies that the site was developed by a certain firm, or it may say that it is a theme from a specific distributor. A theme provides a set framework and color scheme with a few optional features.
What is your content strategy?
Once you have a rough idea of what type of website you want, you should consider content. Do you have marketing materials that can be tailored for your website? Do you have staff members who can draft new content? While the design is very important to the success of your website, the words you use to communicate your message are also very important. And, because most people spend less than a minute skimming your home page, you need to tailor your message to grab their attention right away, much differently than you would in a brochure or in person.
And finally, who should you work with to help get your website up? This is where your examples come in. First, ask for referrals from people in your personal and professional networks. Most likely you will get more than one recommendation. Check out the website of each web developer. Evaluate their message. Do they effectively grab your attention with their website layout and text? Look at the samples of their work. How closely do they resemble the sites you like? As with any form of art, you need to find someone whose style matches your taste.
Who can you best work with?
Once you have narrowed down the choices, meet with the web designers you like best in-person if possible or if not by video conference. You need to be sure that you communicate well. Ask about their experiences with clients. Ask them some personal questions. Pay careful attention to their responses. The objective of the interview goes beyond evaluating their web development skills but serves as a way to test that they understand and can deliver what you want. Because there are many dimensions to a web site, clear communication is very important.
In summary, to get the best results from your website designer, prepare in advance by considering what kind of website you want, collect some examples, provide some content, ask for referrals, and make sure that the person you choose to work with is a good match for you; that you understand each other and communicate clearly.