Guidelines to Choose the Best Web Designer

It takes immense talent and skills to design a web page which is creatively designed, neatly coded, easily downloadable, displays properly on different browsers and above all, can be indexed easily by search engines as well. This is why it becomes more important to choose a company which has a team of talented web and graphic designers, equipped to give you a high quality web solution.

Here are some useful tips to help you choose an efficient web designer.

Check out the previous works

Ask the company to show you the portfolio of their web designs. Most good web and graphic design companies will have a neatly done portfolio in their website itself.

The prior works of the designers highlight not only their talent but also what you can expect from them. Analyze whether all the pages are easy to navigate, whether the designs are impressive and professional, is the layout effective etc. Only after you are satisfied with the previous works, you should move further.

Give importance to HTML knowledge

Make sure that the web designer uses HTML to build a site along with cascading style sheets i.e. CSS. The knowledge of CSS is important for a designer as CSS allows the designer to easily and quickly make system-wide changes to the site.

This helps in saving time and energy and of course, cost. A good designer must be in the know of these things. If your designer is not familiar with CSS, then you’d better leave the task for some other designer.

Know about the features

Inquire what kind of features your web designer can provide you in your website. There are plenty of features available in web solutions today but you must know what exactly you would need. Your web designer must be able to suggest you the features that would make your site attractive and user-friendly.
For example, if you are building a product-selling site, you can have some flash components to enhance the appeal of your home page, a good admin panel to manage visitors and sales, security features to ensure secure payment gateways and so on.

Updating criteria

It is essential to know beforehand, how the web and graphic designer plan to have the site updated. It is better to have the ability to update the website on your own with the help of Content Management System (CMS), or user-friendly admin panel type interface which allow one to make changes to static content. Paying the designer every time you need to update your site is an expensive proposition and quite unnecessary in today’s hi-tech web world.

Performance of your website

To make sure your website performs well, ask your designer beforehand about the time required for loading a page and search engine indexing. If your site takes more time to load than the average website does, take it as a warning signal. It might be due to bad HTML coding. A good web designer will code the page in a way in which it loads within seconds and is easily indexed by search engines.

Get in touch with previous clients

Apart from just going through the testimonials online, it is worthwhile to get in touch with the previous clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company and the web designers. You can contact them either through phone or e-mail them seeking their opinion whether they were happy and satisfied with the kind of quality and service they have got.

These are just few guidelines that can be taken into consideration while looking for a good professional web designer. These are by no means the only criteria but it will surely help to find the good ones who can be trusted with your dream project.

Why Business Owners Need A Web Design Agency

Going online is one of the best options business owners make to gain better opportunities for their business. But, in order to ensure that online strategies can be effective, it is imperative that you work with trusted web design agencies. Below are some of the reasons why business owners hire such experts.

To improve user experience

One of the main reasons why business owners need a web design agency is to allow to properly improve user experience. In order to make target audience into clients, it is essential that you can effectively communicate with them using your website. And, the best way to communicate using your website is by helping them to navigate easily on your website. Because of this, viewers can gain better insights about your products and services online.

To create compelling and unique sites

Business owners also need to work with web development and design agencies to help them create compelling and unique sites. Surely, copying other web designs can be the easiest option to gain effective solutions for your business. However, being unique will allow owners to increase their opportunities. This is possible since agencies can provide professional designs that can complement your brand.

To help them boost site speed

Working with web development and design agencies is important to help company owners to help them boost their site speed. One of the main issues viewers can experience when visiting sites is speed. Due to slow loading pages, individuals tend to immediately leave. As a result, owners can lose potential clients. With the help of web design specialists, they can make site faster by eliminating unnecessary plugins, themes and codes.

To reduce web development expenses

Hiring agencies can also help business owners reduce their web development expenses. Surely, most business owners wish to create their own web development team. However, owners need to invest in substantial finances in the team for training seminars, research and projects. Plus, business owners may also experience risks that can affect their site. Luckily, all of these overhead expenses can be avoided by hiring web design agencies.

To gain better site opportunities

Finally, working with web design experts can help owners gain better site opportunities. Apart from web designs, agencies can also help business owners in creating content. Plus, reliable agencies can also provide other online marketing strategies that can benefit your business effectively.

These are only some of the benefits company owners can obtain with the help of reliable web design agencies.

Finding the Right Web Design Agency

Having a clear idea of what you want your web site to accomplish is important in finding the right Web design agency. These goals will allow you to better focus on the characteristics and individual qualities that each web design agency is capable of.

Basically, there are four objectives that designing a web site can accomplish in basic business. The right web design agency will help you accomplish all these objectives by introducing your products to new markets and increasing the awareness of the product. A design agency should also reduce the amount of paperwork and help you gain new customers while retaining the old ones.

It is probable that the web design agency will achieve all of the goals but planning your web site with clear objectives will show you which goal should be of most importance. As this may change, so will your web design.

After determining the main objective of your web site, your goal should be finding the right web design agency that will help you obtain this goal. As time goes on you may or may not choose the same web design agency. Goals will change, as will the design needs of your web sites. It may be beneficial to utilize the web design agencies with the most experience with the certain part of web design that you are trying to obtain.

Whichever web design agency you choose, having clear objective and goals will make the web design process go a lot more smooth. The exact details of the web design might not be known but that is why your are hiring a design agency to aid you with the task. Take the time to outline your philosophy and goals with the agency. This will ensure that the site reflects your business in the quickest amount of time.

Website Design Services

If you have ever had an involvement with a website design company, you may well have experienced a great deal of mis-communication, mis-interpretation and missed deadlines.

What seems like the simplest of notions, turns into a 6 month headache.

As an integral part of a web design agency, i would like to offer up some suggestions as to why this can happen.

Let me firstly give you the web agencies argument, then i will reveal how this whole sorry process can be avoided and save you hundreds if not thousands of pounds at the same time.

An agency works to a spec document, usually prepared by the client or as a joint effort. A paper sitemap is created so we can see the site hierarchy and what links to where.

When this phase is complete, our web designers will begin to create a graphical interface to display your content in the best possible way.

This is where the first MAJOR problem occurs.

As professional web designers, we will proceed to create a website that delivers your business or personal goals, this has a direct impact on site design and layout.

Let me give you an example:

If we are tasked with creating an ecommerce site for selling a product, we will create a homepage where the visitor is guided into the sales process, every click they make takes them further down the path to the sale, after all, an ecommerce website should sell right?

Not according to some clients no, far better in their eyes, to have a beautifully sculpted landing page showcasing the latest and greatest web 2.0 or flash movie intro, culminating in the inevitable ‘click here to enter’ button, centred on the page.

To hell with search engine optimisation, they want their site to look the best!

This is always a bad start to a client / designer relationship and sets alarm bells ringing at web design hq with distant cries of ‘Oh no. we’ve got another one..’ emanating from the design office.

Sure, if you’re a big brand looking to release and market a new product then knock yourself out, but for Joe Bloggs paperclip sales? I think not.

This brings me to my second point – logo’s.

Do you really think that your company is SO important to the end user that they MUST be subjected to the monstrously oversized logo you are forcing the design team to integrate. What’s more, after we submit the site to you for initial sign off – 99% percent of the time we are sat waiting for the ‘can you just make the logo a bit bigger’ phone call.

Your site should be about the product or service, it’s not about your logo, keep this in mind next time you think half a page is ‘reasonable’ logo space.

It’s amazing how many clients play at ‘designer’ once the ball starts rolling.

So after wasting days or weeks on design tweaks that detract from your business goals, we finally submit and give you what you want, a site based on ‘this great site i saw on xyz.com’, a site i should mention that is already old fashioned and already out of date. We work for the future, not the past.

Just to point out that i’m not ranting here, this is cold hard fact, drawn from actual daily experiences.

The next stage can be even more disastrous, the integrating of content.

Now we are getting to the nuts and bolts of the project, the promise of content and imagery suddenly seems like a distant dream. We hear week upon week that the content is nearly finished, but it isn’t, it isn’t even started.

Many clients are under the illusion that writing content is easy, until they begin the task. Nobody likes writing content. Every word or paragraph is important and can be the difference between delivering the right or wrong message to your audience.

It’s not unusual for a web design agency to wait 6 months for content to materialise, it’s even less unusual for us to be asked to write the content. Why not just ask us to do this in the first place?

All the procrastrination is costing money.

For those that do bite the bullet and write the content themselves, they become lost in the Sitemap, many convince themselves that the sitemap is actually incorrect and that a new one should be generated?

This has massive implications, the web site design could well have to be broken down and re-started in order to accommodate the ‘small changes’ to the structure.

It’s not unusual to re-start a project several times, as the real aims of a website finally dawn on the client. By this time, the ever humble web agency is so brow beaten, that they simply agree, in the hope that the project will at some stage be put to bed.

I can fully empathise with the client, i realise that intervention isn’t intentionally done to upset the applecart, it’s just a lack if education and i don’t mean that in an offensive way.

To really drive this point home, imagine that you are a roofing contractor, highly specialised and having gone through years of professional training. You are half way through fitting my new fandangled roof when i casually pop outside and tell you that i think it will look better if you put it on upside down.

Now here’s the good part.

There is a new breed of web design agency surfacing. One where the client is rewarded for allowing the agency to perform their task without interruptions.
The client is asked to create a list of page titles and create content for those pages in advance. The also collect and imagery they wish to use. Design wise they provide a suggested colour scheme and a list of website they find inspiring (for design cues). Lastly they provide a list of keywords that will shape the tone of the site i.e fun, modern, contemporary, corporate.

All this material is submitted to the agency and that is the last input the client has.
The agency can then use the submitted material to create a fully functional website within a very short timeframe.

The client has to trust that both his submitted information is correct and that the agency will do a professional job.
The clients reward for this is a huge cost saving, sometimes thousands of pounds on a single project.

The agency is allowed to provide a professional service with a lightning fast turnaround time.
Now in the real world, there will always be clients out there who want to control the web design process, but for those who recognise that the job should be left to the experts, the rewards are multiple.
It certainly pays to be prepared doesn’t it?

Finding a Digital Agency: What to Look for in a Web Design or Web Development Agency?

Narrow down your digital agency selection using our handy top ten tips on choosing a web design agency.

1) Check out their own site

Do you like it? Does it sell to you? Does it contain all the types of skills that you’re looking for e.g. good web design, well designed user interface, well built, works on mobiles. Does it impress you?

2) Ask to look at their portfolio

Are the case studies recent? Do you recognize the company names? Do a Google search and check that the companies exist and have the same website that the agency designed. Do you like the website designs they have produced? Ask yourself: Do they represent the company well? Would you use this website? Do they have experience of website design in your field? Do the website’s meet their objectives?

3) Check References

Ask the web agency if they can send you references or testimonials from customers. And when you get these testimonials, make sure you check them out. Call the clients up and check that the testimonials are real.

Finally, ask how long the agency has been running. Age doesn’t always matter, but it does help to identify experience.

4) Capabilities

All agencies will be good at some things and not at others. Find out what they have experience in and what they do well, they often have a bias to one content management technology or another. Often, it’s helpful to get the CV’s of all staff employed. The best agencies will have a balance of online marketing, development and creative. If you have specific requirements – make a list and ask the agency what their proficiency is in the specific skills.

5) Availability – Service levels

Check that they can meet your needs. Quite often companies have a client account team in the UK but their main development team may be based elsewhere. Make sure you get a phone number not just an email address (and not a premium rate number either). Ask the web design agency what the turnaround time is for responding to emails.

6) Resourcing

You want your web design agency to be big enough to ensure that if your account manager is off sick or on holiday your business is not forgotten.

Do you prefer a larger, higher resourced agency or a smaller, more flexible agency? The general rule would be to find a web agency that’s resourced to reflect the size of tasks and projects you require. If you have 1000 employees but your actual marketing and development budget is reasonably low, you are only likely to need an agency of 5-10 employees. If you have 100 employees, but you are heavily reliant on outsourced projects, a larger agency may be more suitable. No one size fits all!

7) Age of agency

Age doesn’t always matter, but in this industry it can be an important factor. The web has seen many changes in a relatively short space of time, if a website design agency has been in business for five or more years it have obviously been managed well. The internet has seen the boom and bust of many company’s; those that live to tell the tale are obviously being run well.

8) Are the staff approachable and professional?

It’s important that you connect with the people managing your account. The best results will be created when you forge a partnership with your web agency.

Do they provide an off the shelf package, or do they tailor their resources to your needs? Do they use a lot of jargon or explain things clearly? Have they provided relevant suggestions suitable for your business? Far too often, company’s try to sell you products that you don’t need and are not tailored to your needs.

9) Check out the agency’s terms and conditions

This is quite important and helps avoid problems further down the line. Here’s some helpful questions to ask:

  • Are there any hidden costs, like set up fees or holding fees?
  • Can you make staged payments for your web project?
  • Are updates and maintenance included in the website design fees?
  • Are bug fixes charged for?
  • Will you get a copy of the source files?
  • Who owns the source code?
  • Who owns copyright of the design?
  • Are the files back-up?
  • Will it work on smartphones?

10) Do they outsource their work?

Check to see if your project will be developed in house or if it will be outsourced. Ask to meet the design or technical team. If work is going to be outsourced, find out where, are you able to contact the team? There are many cases of company’s who have an account management team, and an outsourced development team. It’s common for technical development to be done off shore as resources abroad are cheaper. The problem with this scenario is guaranteeing the quality of the work produced. Does the account management team check the back end code? Does it meet current guidelines and legal requirements? Can they be flexible enough to meet your needs?

Want a web agency with a difference contact Alchemy Interactive