Your company website is too important to leave to chance. It should be treated with the care and consideration it deserves.
Sure, you can do it yourself, but should you? Are you adept at design? Do you understand the platform you will be using? Do you intend to manage your business AND your website with equal skill?
If the answer to any of these questions is no or even maybe, consider consulting a freelance website designer.
Are you hesitant to put this most vital business investment in someone else’s hands? Read about outsourcing successfully here. And be sure to download our FREE guide for even more valuable tips.
You may decide that even if you plan to manage the site yourself, the initial design should be handled professionally rather than left to your own devices.
For your website to be as successful as you need it to be, it will have to stay relevant and attracting a wide audience of your ideal customers.
In the end, they will be persuaded to use your services or products based on how they see you online.
So your website is the perfect chance to impress visitors and keep them coming back for more. They might decide to make a purchase, or even patronize your storefront if you have one.
Don’t turn web surfers off with an old-fashioned site that doesn’t solve their problems. They won’t stick around if your first impression isn’t exceptional.
Before You Begin
You should know your objectives and goals for the site. If you have no idea about what your audience needs, your designer will not be able to magically provide it for you.
To attract loyal visitors, you will most likely want to produce a regular blog and use email to maintain their interest in your brand.
If you plan to sell products or provide services online you’ll need an e-commerce solution with shopping cart and secure payment options.
So review a variety of websites, including your competitors, and even some that are not part of your industry. Of course you won’t be creating a direct copy of anyone else’s site, but you can get a good idea of how to use yours to its best advantage.
Figure out how you want your website to connect with your target audience and be able to precisely convey that to your web designer of choice.
Making an Informed Decision
Accept recommendations from friends and colleagues, but also take a closer look at the websites you most admire. You’ll usually see a citation in the footer naming the designer and/or maybe the “theme” used to build the site on.
Follow up with freelancers or design agencies whose work you like by checking out their business websites. This is where you should find testimonials and a portfolio of their previous projects.
Once you’ve done your due diligence you will be able to clearly describe your goals for the website. Now you’re ready to interview a few prospective designers.
What to Expect from Design Consultants
Take some time to introduce the issues you want your website to address. A good designer will continue asking questions about your business objectives and your ideal clients. This information provides a vivid image of the best ways to attract and convert your visitors into loyal customers.
Ask how they plan to solve your problems and evaluate their responses. Realize not every prospect is a good fit, for you or the consultant. And make your final decision based on the value to be gained rather than the cost of the initial investment.
Red Flags to Avoid
No contract. Don’t even consider working with anyone on a handshake alone. Your chosen website designer must be able to provide you with a detailed contract spelling out timelines, milestones, and deliverables. Otherwise, neither of you has an accurate idea of the project’s scope or goals.
No communication. It’s key to collaboration, and your design consultant should keep you updated on every phase of the project. You don’t want to be surprised, and the designer doesn’t want to make never-ending revisions.
Requiring full payment up front. You and your designer should agree to a schedule of payments that is spelled out in the contract. Typically you might pay 30% to begin the work, 30% at an arranged milestone, and 30% at delivery.
No defined development plan. The designer with the clearest concept of how to best serve your ideal clients using a variety of design and marketing techniques is the one you should consider. After all, serving your ideal clients is the ultimate goal of your website!
Working With Your Website Designer
Congratulations! You’ve narrowed down your choices and selected the best website design professional for your business needs. Now the collaboration will depend on regular communication and complete understanding of the project’s parameters.
Trust your site designer, but don’t be afraid to offer helpful insights to minimize revisions.
And be sure to provide any information & assets that may be required on a timely basis. Don’t be the reason your project is delayed.
To sum it up, start with a clear goal in mind for your new website or site redesign, and be able to communicate your needs effectively.
Do your research. Establish how you plan to connect with your ideal clients. Verify which qualified website designer will best bring your vision to life. And continue to communicate regularly to make the most of your collaboration.
Investing in your website is a proven way to increase your online presence and help grow your business. Here’s to your success!
This article is part of an ongoing series on how small businesses can improve their procedures and processes to maximize their growth. Are there topics you’d like to see in the future? Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments!