ABOUT SANDY TAPPER
Thy Web Designer!"
Designer's Portfolio | Assess the Designer's Skills | Make Your Decision
How to Hire A Web Designer A Marketers
by Sandy Tapper
So youre ready to get your own website or revamp your
existing one. Youve already decided that using an outside resource (and not your
neighbors 16-year-old kid) would save you time, although not a lot of money.
Web designers and developers can be found through search engines,
newsgroups, web surfing, referrals, etc. However, sifting through the myriad of choices to
find the right person to do the job doesnt have to be daunting if you ask the right
For a business, a website is more than just words, pictures and
graphics appearing on a monitor. Think of your site as a means to persuasively promote a
product, service or even an idea.
From a marketing perspective, then, what should you look for in
selecting a web designer?
Step 1 - Take a look at the
Dont assume that you
can change a designers particular style or approach; it wont work!
- Do you honestly like what you see?
- Do the sites within the portfolio have a similar look and feel?
If so, do you mind that your site may look like a cookie-cutter version? Or, is a unique
look tailored for your business a high priority, especially to differentiate yourself from
- Does the designer specialize in a particular industry or market? Some
may specialize in real estate, cars or shopping carts, to name a few. With such a
specialist, you may benefit from the designers expertise in that area, which can
help lower your production costs. On the other hand, you may find your site looking too
similar to the designers other sites within that category.
On the Internet, content is king. Dont get caught up in the flash
and dazzle of fancy fonts, animated graphics, loud colors, or big photos; they dont
atone for poor content. And take caution with those designers who view their work as
"pieces of art" when, in reality, the goal is to market your particular product
- Can you easily and quickly ascertain the sites goals and
- How well do the sites sell?
Its critical that your site not only looks good, but
also works to achieve your business goals. Does the site present the product/service
features and benefits persuasively? Do the calls-to-action motivate you to do what is
asked (make a purchase, complete a form, download a demo, etc.)?
- Does the website easily lead you through the site via strong
navigation? Site visitors want to find desired content fast. Nothing is more
irksome than forcing your site visitors to drilldown through several links or pages to
find exactly what theyre looking for. While you may think its a great
marketing ploy, its really a big turn-off. Although an onsite search can help, it
still cant make up for the billboard impact that well-thought-out navigation, in
both button and in-text links, can provide.
Step 2 Ask the designer questions, including:
- "Do you, yourself, write HTML and custom
programming, as needed? Or do you rely solely on an HTML Editor such as
FrontPage, Cold Fusion, DreamWeaver, GoLive, et al?"
If the designer only uses an HTML editor, he or she may
be self-limited in taking advantage of all web authoring tools available to make the site
the best that it can be.
- "Who develops the copy portion of the
site?" Many designers are not copywriters, so be sure they use a strong
copywriter to write your content in a compelling and persuasive tone. In some cases, the
designer may ask you to provide the copy. Either way, make sure that copy, graphics and
navigation are seamlessly integrated so it all makes sense to your site visitor.
- "What is your marketing background?"
Just as designers may not be copywriters, many are not marketers, either. Traditional
design experience, such as in print ads, brochures and other media, does not necessarily
translate well to strong web design; the disciplines and approach are entirely different.
If youre strong in marketing, you may do quite well with a pure graphics designer
as long as youre willing to spend time collaborating with the designer to
ensure a strong strategic approach. If marketing is not your forte, be sure to select
someone who is marketing-oriented or, consider hiring a marketing consultant to serve as
- "How familiar are you with the search engine
process?" Most search engine algorithms rely on a combination of page
titles, meta tags and on-page content to achieve high rankings. If you plan to generate
traffic via search engines, it helps if the designer (or marketing consultant) understands
the interrelationship of search engines and site infrastructure before the site is built.
Step 3 - Ask yourself these questions:
- "Am I comfortable with this designer?" When
you get right down to it, hiring a designer depends not only on skill but also rapport and
mutual trust. After all, its your site and youre the customer! Take the time
to find someone who has the skills and competence youre seeking and who will truly
listen to you.
- "Based on what Ive seen and heard, does
this designer truly warrant the proposed cost?" It is quite prudent to
obtain proposals from several designers to evaluate the potential cost of your website.
Get quotes on the entire job, from concept to revisions to final version, rather than
going by just an hourly rate.
And dont be surprised if theres a wide
disparity in pricing, because there are no hard-and-fast rules on how to charge for a
website. After you get over the sticker shock, be aware that web sites are very
labor-intensive: the bulk of the cost goes towards paying someone for their time and
expertise. But buyer beware: the adage "you get what you pay for" is very much
alive and well in the online world!
Once youve gone through this process, and added
your own ideas along the way, youll be in a good position to select the designer
thats best suited for you and your business.
Sandy Tapper is
a marketing evangelist and Internet consultant who focuses on creating marketing-driven
Web sites. Visit her site at http://www.tappernet.com
or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2000 Sandy Tapper. All rights reserved.