Finding a qualified web designer on the Massachusetts SouthCoast
There’s probably a thousand checkpoints for finding a good business (website designers or otherwise), but here are a few that come to mind.
The field of website design has seen lots of companies come and go over the years. Many aspiring web designers have come into the field figuring that all they need to know is how to make cool designs and all would be okay. Not true. Many have gone by the wayside over the years, not understanding that web design is like any other business. You need to offer valuable services and products at competitive prices and provide good customer support over a long period of time before you have something that looks like a good business.
1) Get a web design company with some history of doing business in the local community.
Do you know this company? Do you know people who have done business with them? Do businesses that you respect do business with this design company? Are they known by the Greater New Bedford Chamber of Commerce? Do they have complaints registered at the Better Business Bureau? How long have they been in business?
Are they connected to your community? Do they have a reputation they are concerned about?
2) What does their portfolio look like? Will you be their first customer?
A good web design firm will have lots of portfolio pieces to show you – previous projects that they’ve done for other local businesses in your community.
Take the time to browse through their prior work. Is their work pleasing to you? Does it meet your design aesthetic? Are the navigation elements clean and easy to find? Are color schemes easy on the eyes? Are their websites intuitive as regards how one moves through them? Are there unnecessary distractions in the website such as gratuitous animation, music, snow drops that follow your mouse arrow, etc.?
A company that produces websites that you instinctively like will probably be able to make a nice one one for you as well. But a design firm that consistently produces work that is less than the best will in all liklihood produce a dissappointing website for you.
3) Do they have the necessary technical prowess to be your service provider?
Choosing a website design firm isn’t only about “design” issues. A good web design firm will be able to take care of most (if not all) of the “heavy lifting” regarding the technical aspects of your web presence.
Example: What if you need to gather membership registration data securely? Or what if your project calls for a searchable database? A pretty design is only part of the project. A good design / development firm is going to be able to provide you with solutions to enable you to handle secure transactions, database integration, content management systems, e-commerce shopping, e-mail marketing etc.
Website hosting is also a technical issue that can’t be overlooked. How often does this company have issues with server hosting downtime? Your website is of no use if it’s offline a large portion of the time due to technical difficulties. A website that is down conveys a bad picture of your company to prospective clients.
4) Full or Part-time – When you call or email them do they respond promptly or are they at their day job with the bank?
Really, this happens in our industry. A “web designer” gets into the business part-time and works a normal day job. They don’t tell you this before you buy.
You’ll only learn that they’re unavailable for support calls during daytime hours when you first discover your email isn’t running or your website is offline. Imagine having to wait until after 6 PM before you can get a hold of your “web guy”? Be warned… this happens all too often…make sure your web firm is a full-time operation – at least 5 days per week during normal business hours.
5) You get what you pay for…
This adage is true for any industry. Nothing good (almost) in life is free or cheap. When you buy shoes or jeans do you buy the cheapest you can find? When you grocery shop for your family, do you buy the cheapest meat you can find? Or does the quality of the product play a role in your decision-making process – hopefully it does!
Find a design firm that can produce a quality website for your company. A website that will reflect well on you and your company. Obviously, don’t waste money – but don’t pick the cheapest guy on the block unless he/she is also the best on the block. Your company’s reputation is on the line. You don’t want to be perceived by your clients and perspective customers as a hack. Remember, your website (like your office, your house, your car, your clothes) says something about you. Make sure you’re conveying the appropriate message!