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WDD - Resources

Web Design Directory

How to Choose a Web Designer

Experienced web designers will have portfolios of web sites they have worked on, so it is worth looking through these to ascertain whether they are the sort of thing you want. The website of the designer themselves should be appealing in all aspects, otherwise they havenâ??t done a good job. Their website will reflect their skills.

Consider how quickly websites load and how professional they appear. If there is a style you particularly like, find out as much about the designer as you can.

Once you have had a chance to explore various sites and have asked friends and colleagues about their experiences, you will find a designer you think is right for your website. Contact some of their clients to ask for references (by visiting contact pages). You might call site owners directly and ask about their experience with the designer in question. For example, was the site created to an acceptable deadline, was the designer helpful and flexible and did they answer queries promptly? You can also ask about the cost and if there were any negatives to the process.

Research before you commit yourself; doing your homework will enable you to engage the designer of your choice, confident that they will undertake the task of creating you a perfect website.

Technical Know How

Your web designer should be highly competent in technical jargon and be confident of using various browsers, such as Firefox and Safari. They will be creating your website with HTML, which is the coding needed to do the job.

Lazy designers will use table-based layouts in which to create text and pictures. These work as grids; templates for them to work within but they can cause display problems in your website if the tables break in different browsers. Most websites feature tables like these as they are easily implemented.

Your web designer should know all about search engine optimisation (SEO), which makes your website feature higher in the rankings in various search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Your website needs to reflect its purpose and its purpose needs to be very clear, in order for search engines to recognise it and to improve your rankings on the world wide web. Your site will be scanned by the search engine and its relevance to the search terms will be evaluated. If it has a high relevance, it will rank higher in the results. Keywords, including phrases and headings, will be a factor here. These are the words that visitors to your site will search for.

The name of your website is hugely important. It must be relevant and eye catching and it must be memorable. Avoid long names or gimmicky ones unless they have longevity to them.

Valid Coding

Before you engage your prospective web designer, test their site for valid coding. You can also test their portfolio sites for coding to see if they are competent at what they say they do. This is a simple process, using mark up validation software which is readily available online with searches. Valid coding will work across all browsers as it should, whereas invalid coding will break, showing you that a designer does not have a great deal of skill in this area.

Avoid Cheap Deals

There is a great deal of competition among web designers today and consequently cheap deals are often offered, for example a 6 page website for the price of 3. Be cautious about the offers you see; with web design services, you often get what you pay for and if you cut corners with costs you may well end up with bad workmanship.

A quality, custom built website can take a week to two to complete by an experienced designer and they will charge a price that is competitive but that will reflect the time and skills involved in the process.

Ask your Web Designer Questions

Once you understand a little about the design process, you can arm yourself with questions for the web designer you are interested in, to make sure that they are the right person for your website. After all, this is your business in their hands. So donâ??t be shy.

Ask them if the pages will be tested across different browsers and on various sized screens to make sure it displays as it should.

Ask them if they use tables in order to lay out the pages. Many designers use invisible tables to hold it all together and this is difficult to discover but should be checked. Tables on a site will make it perform less well and will slow its speed down when loading. Tables are acceptable to use when listing products etc.

Ask them if they can register your domain name on your behalf and what the cost of this would be.

Ask your designer if they hand code sites, because this shows that they have expertise in the area, beyond the designers that use software for site development.

Ask them about updates and how much this service costs (as it can be between �£200 and �£500 per year).

Ask your designer about the entire design process so that you understand what is involved from start to finish.

If you establish a good rapport with your web designer and their work is professional, eye catching and loads quickly without problems, you will have the peace of mind you need to engage the designer for you.

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