What makes one web designer different to another? How do you know which designer to choose for your project.. Where do you even start? Hopefully this post will give you some advice on how to decide which designer for you.
Many website specialists work with specific industries. Whatever industry you are working in, chances are there is someone out there who is either a specialist in that field, or has experience with other clients in the same field. Some companies are the ‘go to’ provider for their chosen niche and have effectively cornered the market, such is their reputation.
By using an industry specialist you are cashing in on years of experience. They understand your market and customers and are well used to creating effective websites that connect with your audience. You can expect to pay a premium price for this wealth of experience, but the benefits can outweigh the costs ten fold. The whole process of designing and building your website will be faster and smoother and the site will achieve it’s goal very quickly, rather than having to go through a long period of trial and error while both yourself and the web design company figure out ‘what works’ for you in terms of search and visitor conversion.
However, by using a web designer with little experience of working in your industry may have its advantages. A fresh approach may help you stand out from your competition. Your competitors may have all used the same company and you may seem the same site templates over and over again and the designers recycle previous successful designs. Your ‘different’ site may be the one that sticks in visitors minds, of course your designer might not get the design right due to inexperience with working with your industry, and you might spend some time ironing out the creases, or just have to start all over again in a worst case scenario.
In order to create a successful website for you, your creative team has to understand who you are trying to sell to. Personally, I spend a long time talking to my customers about their customers. I have detailed ‘customer avatar’ creation sheets that really make my clients think about who they are selling to. This information helps me build a picture of what needs and problems my customer solves for their customers, what language and imagery they respond to, and what the ultimate goal of the site is.
If you don’t understand your audience, you cannot connect to them, and you definitely can sell to them. It’s worth spending time thinking about
Using templates is a great way to quickly and cheaply build a good looking website. By purchasing a template your designer will offer offer you premium quality design and functionality – though not always at a reduced cost.
However I’m convinced that this method of supplying websites only benefits the designer, who spends less time in producing your site, but this is of no benefit to you the customer. A cookie cutter website has no empathy with your audience. It won’t connect to your customers and bring them into your sales funnel. To me it’s just having a website for the sake of having a website. Don’t get me wrong, these are highly professional websites with functionality and features that are of the very highest quality. But that doesn’t mean that the site is designed for your audience.
You might not even save any money by commissioning a bespoke web design, as many studios charge top rates for template sites as they do for original designs. Even if it was far more expensive to have a bespoke website design, I’d advise you finding the money to go with it. A website designed for you, from scratch, with your audience in mind will prove to be a far more effective selling tool than a cheaper, off the shelf solution.
Chances are the bespoke designer will spend more time understanding you and your customers before even starting to think about the website design. They will plan and deploy your website far more carefully and effectively and your business will reap the benefits of the extra time and money.
This is a big one. On page SEO is currently crucial for a business’ online success. Obviously other optimisation factors come into play, but without the foundation of well done on page optimisation – keyword research and the correct deployment and implementation of those keywords will make your site far more attractive to search engines.
Speed is also an important factor regarding on page SEO. It’s vital that images are correctly optimised, served up at the correct size – not huge 3mb files straight from an iPhone! Code is also important, with HTML5 being Google’s preferred mark up (it has elements in it that help search engines) and it goes without saying that the site should be responsive, what with over half of web traffic coming from smartphones.
I hope you found this article helpful and it’s assisted you in your search for a web designer that matches your business’ needs and budget. Why not download my ‘Questions you should ask your web designer before you hire them’ cheat sheet to help you make the right decision when looking for a web designer.