May 222010
 

I come to you, my BNL family, to hopefully shed some light on something that I recently feel forced to address. My objective with this post is to help you evaluate the people you pay to “design” your website. I am going to be super blunt because I am so passionate about empowering my followers and I am getting tired of seeing people get taken advantage of by those who have no idea what they are doing.

After hosting internet marketing trainings and consultations for the last few years I have come across numerous “web designers” and I feel this is the only quote to express my feelings adequately…

I knew it. I’m surrounded by A$$#*!&$. Keep firing, A$$#*!&$!” –Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

I am by no means a website designer or a development expert nor do I want or claim to be, but, after I read the reviews for Webcreationuk I realized that not every company is created equal and that there just seems to be too many companies out there toting their elements of good web design and have no business doing so. I want to give you a few things to look for when choosing someone, and more importantly paying someone to develop an online marketing campaign, particularly your website.

These are 5 of the most important things you must evaluate when hiring someone to put together a website for you:

  1. What platform are you going to set up my site on? (Content Management Systems (CMS) is a MUST, WordPress or Joomla are the best and the only competent options. If they don’t mention these, RUN!)
  2. How are you going to design my site? If they say anything about “writing it,” “coding,” “custom style sheets” or anything other than creating a custom theme for you they are more than likely not operating efficiently and are going to set up something that will cost you more in the long run.
  3. Look at other sites they have created and try to highlight the text in a few areas. If the text doesn’t highlight and you are able to drag it like an image, RUN! That site is TOTAL CRAP and they have no idea what internet marketing or SEO is.
  4. How are we going to capture information? You must, must, must have a call to action on your site. Your list is your businesses equity. If you are not growing that list your business isn’t growing as fast as it could be and you have a stagnant, useless site with the hopes to sell to random people that may stumble upon it. Auto-responders like Aweber, Constant Contact, and iContact are the some of the best.
  5. Your costs should be between $400-$10,000, depending on the desired functions of your site. I know that is a pretty big gap, but there many degrees of the complexity when designing a custom web presence. If you just need a simple site with a few pages, some custom images, a contact area, and the training to update it yourself $400-$1,200 is a fair price.

Again, I am not a website designer, but it costs significantly more to duplicate a site that was done by people who really have no business promoting themselves as a website developers. Sorry for the touch of negativity today, but 3 students of mine in the last week have been swindled out of a quality site that they deserved and paid for.

This post is a little bit of an over simplification, but if you get anything from it please just evaluate the people you pay to do web design for you. Just because a site “looks good” does not mean so!

I value and appreciate all of you. Have a spectacular day and I look forward to seeing you at the top!

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  10 Responses to “Networking Tip: Evaluating Your Web Designer”

  1. Totally with you on points 1 through 4.

    If a company if looking for top quality design work, however, I’m not so sure $400–$3000 is going to cut it. I’m not saying that designers aren’t charging that out there. If they are, I would be very skeptical as to whether they are using off the shelf pre-designed templates, which in my professional opinion isn’t the way the build a site that is unique and tailored to your business.

    The cost for a custom designed site from a premium design firm, will probably run you past the $3,000 figure. Anything less than that, you will likely get a site that will attract a clientele that is budget conscious and cheap, which isn’t a good choice for a lawyer or a medical practice, for example.

    Just my $0.02.

    David

  2. Totally with you on points 1 through 4.

    If a company if looking for top quality design work, however, I’m not so sure $400–$3000 is going to cut it. I’m not saying that designers aren’t charging that out there. If they are, I would be very skeptical as to whether they are using off the shelf pre-designed templates, which in my professional opinion isn’t the way the build a site that is unique and tailored to your business.

    The cost for a custom designed site from a premium design firm, will probably run you past the $3,000 figure. Anything less than that, you will likely get a site that will attract a clientele that is budget conscious and cheap, which isn’t a good choice for a lawyer or a medical practice, for example.

    Just my $0.02.

    David

  3. What is your opinion when it comes to designing a site with just 5-10 pages, nothing complicated and a custom site layout? No crazy feature, just high quality images, good copy, and enticing capture areas.

  4. What is your opinion when it comes to designing a site with just 5-10 pages, nothing complicated and a custom site layout? No crazy feature, just high quality images, good copy, and enticing capture areas.

  5. The size of the site is irrelevant. The question I want to focus on is ‘how can we design a site that will make you money?’ Simply having a five page ‘online brochure’ just won’t cut it in today’s tech savvy marketplace. That doesn’t mean a website has to be complicated. A business will, however, want to consider adding features that are in alignment with the company’s overall marketing and sales objectives.

  6. The size of the site is irrelevant. The question I want to focus on is ‘how can we design a site that will make you money?’ Simply having a five page ‘online brochure’ just won’t cut it in today’s tech savvy marketplace. That doesn’t mean a website has to be complicated. A business will, however, want to consider adding features that are in alignment with the company’s overall marketing and sales objectives.

  7. I have to jump in on a few of your comments.

    First, there are other competent CMS’s out there besides Joomla and WordPress (though those are far and away are favorites). We have also done sites in Drupal (also open source, strong development community) and DotNetNuke. Unfortunately, some customers are forced into a particular technology (like .Net) by their IT department. Either way, work with a web company that can tailor a CMS system to the particular functionality you need, and the level of sophistication you desire in updating content/assets.

    I also must take umbrage with your CSS comment. Custom style sheets are a tool that web designers use so that the site is MORE efficient to build and you aren’t having to develop individual pages independently. The use of style sheets has NOTHING to do with the unique design of a site. They are totally different discussions. And having a clearly defined style sheet ensures things like menus, the performance of text links, headline treatments, etc are consistent across your site. Which is a major concern if you’re trying to create a level of professionalism.

    I also disagree with your price ranges, but you are correct that there is a definite broad gap in price, capability and service delivery in our marketplace today.

    Though broad, a good way to look at what you need from your site is to focus on engagement and conversions. How can you engage visitors to create interest in your site. And once they are there, what do you want them to physically do. If you can answer those two things, and communicate them well to your web partner, you’ll be in good shape.

  8. I have to jump in on a few of your comments.

    First, there are other competent CMS’s out there besides Joomla and WordPress (though those are far and away are favorites). We have also done sites in Drupal (also open source, strong development community) and DotNetNuke. Unfortunately, some customers are forced into a particular technology (like .Net) by their IT department. Either way, work with a web company that can tailor a CMS system to the particular functionality you need, and the level of sophistication you desire in updating content/assets.

    I also must take umbrage with your CSS comment. Custom style sheets are a tool that web designers use so that the site is MORE efficient to build and you aren’t having to develop individual pages independently. The use of style sheets has NOTHING to do with the unique design of a site. They are totally different discussions. And having a clearly defined style sheet ensures things like menus, the performance of text links, headline treatments, etc are consistent across your site. Which is a major concern if you’re trying to create a level of professionalism.

    I also disagree with your price ranges, but you are correct that there is a definite broad gap in price, capability and service delivery in our marketplace today.

    Though broad, a good way to look at what you need from your site is to focus on engagement and conversions. How can you engage visitors to create interest in your site. And once they are there, what do you want them to physically do. If you can answer those two things, and communicate them well to your web partner, you’ll be in good shape.

  9. Thanks so much for the response Daniel! I was aware that there are other CMS’s out there, but just to make it a little easier for some of my readers I thought sticking with the most popular would be best.

    While I understand that CSS is a great tool, which I can appreciate, when designing a simple site with just a few pages and minimal functionality there isn’t a big need for extensive customization. Would you agree?

    My apologies for some of the over generalization. I completely agree with you on utilizing other platforms and most certainly high price ranges. The were 3 sites I had to help others with in the last two weeks that were completely done in .jpg and others in WordPress where the designer wrote the whole style sheet and numerous plugins didnt work.

    The focus was just what you mentioned at the end. How can you engage, create interest, and also have a user friendly back office. Thanks so much for the comment and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

    Have a wonderful day!

  10. Thanks so much for the response Daniel! I was aware that there are other CMS’s out there, but just to make it a little easier for some of my readers I thought sticking with the most popular would be best.

    While I understand that CSS is a great tool, which I can appreciate, when designing a simple site with just a few pages and minimal functionality there isn’t a big need for extensive customization. Would you agree?

    My apologies for some of the over generalization. I completely agree with you on utilizing other platforms and most certainly high price ranges. The were 3 sites I had to help others with in the last two weeks that were completely done in .jpg and others in WordPress where the designer wrote the whole style sheet and numerous plugins didnt work.

    The focus was just what you mentioned at the end. How can you engage, create interest, and also have a user friendly back office. Thanks so much for the comment and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

    Have a wonderful day!

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