It’s all about the website. Every company - regardless of industry, niche, product, or service - needs to have a well designed and engaging website. It’s your tiny piece of cyberspace real estate, and without it, you’re waving goodbye to a great deal of business and potential new customers. How often do you go flipping through the yellow pages when looking for a product or service? When’s the last time you called 411 (or equivalent) to locate a new business? We rarely, if ever, do that anymore. Our first port-of-call is Google, or Bing, or Yahoo! You need a website so customers past, present, and future can find you.
But what if you’re less than technologically minded? What if design, and graphics, and programming leave you cold, or you just don’t have the time? Luckily, there are hundreds of options available to you. Outsourcing your web design has, in fact, become the norm.
The Easy But Less-Than-Stellar Route
If you’re using Wordpress to power your site (and you should), you could find a theme (free or purchased), upload it to your dashboard, throw on some basic text and free clipart, and be done with it. You have a website...but it looks like a free and hastily assembled one. Not really the impression you want to give as a professional [blank]. And worse, depending on the popularity of the theme you chose, there could be hundreds or thousands of websites that look identical (or nearly so) to yours. Not good. You want to be unique. You want to stand out.
Find a Pro
You need a web designer. Someone who will create something just for you and your business. It will cost money (how much is up to you), but the return on investment is worth the expense. They have the skills and experience to do this right.
1. The Cheap Option
Remember that old adage that says “you get what you pay for”? Well, it’s true. You can find many web designers operating out of portals like Fiverr or eLance that claim they will design a basic website for you for as little as $5. It’ll look like a $5 site. And at $5 per job, these designers want to finish as quickly as possible and move on to the next one.
2. The Overseas Option
There are countless design agencies and freelancers operating out of India, the Philippines, China, and various other locations. Truthfully, many of them are incredibly talented and able designers, and their prices are considerably lower than you’ll pay someone located in North America, the United Kingdom, or Australia. But it’s hit-and-miss. Be careful using this one. If you want to investigate a bit further, August 99 Inc. (based in the Philippines) and Web Design Solutions (India) have some good word-of-mouth.
3. The Local Option
A qualified, experienced web design firm in a western country is likely going to be expensive. Be prepared. But, you’ll end up with a great looking, dynamic, and totally unique website. If you can afford it, you should definitely go this route. Google “web design firms” or “freelance web designers” plus “[your town or city]” to find all the available options.
Other avenues worth exploring include Elegant.ly (connecting designers and start-ups) and 99 Designs (a design marketplace...you post your requirements and budget, and freelance designers can reply).
The Right Questions to Ask
No matter how you find them, when you have touched base with a designer, it’s time to ask a few questions:
- Do you have examples of work you’ve done available online?
- Could you connect me with some previous clients for some feedback and references?
- Do you do the graphics yourself?
- What exactly does your price include?
- Do I own the copyright for all designs?
- Do you provide the original source files at the completion of the project?
- What is your payment schedule?
- Can it be completed by the deadline?
- And anything else you can think of…
- Will you install the design? Do you offer website maintenance?
The answers you receive should influence your ultimate choice. Also, consider whether the individual seems approachable and is easy to contact. Do you think you’ll enjoy working with them? What sorts of questions are they asking you? A good designer should have plenty. Before you make a final decision, do some online checking to see if there are any negative (or positive!) reviews or complaints filed against them.
Other Useful Links
A professional design by a professional designer could cost upwards of $5000. Obviously, the size, scope, and specific demands will dictate the final cost, but be prepared to pay several thousand dollars. You can pay less, but you get less. For something as important as your virtual portal, you don’t want to skimp. Spend as much as you can afford.