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1. Size does not equate to competence
People sometimes assume a company with more money, employees, office space etc will be more capable than one with less. This is not necessarily correct. In fact much smaller businesses (or individuals) if they apply themselves intelligently/effectively, are often likely to be able to deliver better quality-and more personalized-services than bigger ones. My advice it that you get authentic proof of competence in form of past web design projects (website addresses) the individual or company you want to choose has handled. Go one step further, if possible and request for client contact details so as to verify the claims made.
2. Do they have a business philosophy that protects you, the client?
Customers naturally often complain about unreliable service providers -including Internet-related service providers. The "newness" of the website concept sometimes can lead to uninitiated business owners getting less than they pay for. For instance, websites could be built with little or no effort made - by the designer - to help the owner understand how to use it to reduce advertising/marketing expenses while increasing sales leads generation. Such costumers would subsequently lose faith in the use of websites for low cost, high impact marketing saying "It doesn't work!". Ask the designer for details of what they will do for you, to help your website succeed, that others will not. Use the respones you get to compare with others you are conidering - it will not be difficult to identify who is offering you the most tangible benefits.
3. What can they do to make managing your site easy and convenient for you?
Is the individual or company you are conidering willing to (search for and) incorporate useful tools/resources(e.g. relevant and appropriate automation) that will equip your website to deliver the results you want at less cost, in less time and using less resources? Ask them for examples of useful automation they have setup on websites-and specific ones they can adapt to suit your biz needs.
Without the intelligent integration of appropriate automation on a website, the challenge of using the website to achieve increased business productivity will, over time become overwhelming. The website should make it cheaper and easier to put information about your business in front of a wider range of prospects almost effortlessly. Website automation using server-sider custom CGI(Common Gateway Interface) scripting is one of the most common and effective ways to do this. Ask your prospective web designer if s/he is conversant with the use of this technology - or has reliable access to someone who does. If you get a "No", MAKE SURE you find someone else who can take care of that aspect.
4. Do they have a web marketing strategy for you?
This is the most important one. A competent web designer must demontrate the willingness to study(and aptitude to understand) your business - including the goals you aim to achieve. Most importantly s/he must be able to tell you - in simple, non-technical English - how the website can be used to further your business goals and objectives. So, ask if s/he has a Web Marketing Strategy in mind to enable you maximise the Returns On Your Investment in the website. If s/he struggles to answer, be very worried.
What is a Web Marketing Strategy?
A web marketing strategy is basically a step-by-step plan(that should be developed) based on an understanding of the ultimate purpose you intend to use your website to achieve. If well conceived, it will guide you on the specific things to do - daily, weekly etc - in order to leverage your website to get the intended results.
Without a web marketing strategy, you will soon find yourself struggling to justify the money you have spent(and will spend) to keep your website online. I'll be a bit blunt here. Traditional methods can no longer satisfy today's business marketing needs. If you do not have a web marketing strategy, your business WILL become extinct - and that's putting it mildly too!
One of the many performance metrics currently used by serious business website owners is the Website Conversion Ratio(WCR) computed by dividing the total number of visitors to your website by the number of those visitors who eventually take action subsequently to do business with you. The WCR will vary from one website/industry to the other. For instance on the net a typical target WCR is about 3.0% - which means for every 100 visitors to your site, you will expect only about 3 person to eventually do business with you.
This is why you must have a good marketing strategy to ensure that only the "right" visitors(i.e who fit the "profile" of your target audience) visit your site. The "right" visitors will contitute your "pre-qualified target audience" i.e people already interested in what your website offers. A web marketing strategy makes more of the "right" people visit your site giving you a greater chance of getting contacted by more of your potential customers, so you get a chance to "close the sale" and record an increased WCR. Another way of looking at the WCR is by seeing it as a measure of what I like to call the Return On Your Investment(ROYI) in a business website.
One Analogy: A website featuring a product that makes hair grow on bald heads will not interest a person who regularly visits the barber for a full hair cut! The process involved in developing a web marketing strategy will help you craft marketing messages that make those who NEED your product or service recognize the unique benefit your website offers - and therefore subsequently visit it.
The above is not an exhaustive list. I have only highlighted four of the most important issues which if properly addressed should make your adoption of a web designer end up making you look good in the long term. You might want to visit the www.google.com and type the question "How to choose a good web designer to build my website" or a similar query. You will come up links to other useful articles written on the subject. If you think you're too busy, get someone to do it for you. The time you spend on this preparatory stage could save you from making costly mistakes!
Tayo Solagbade devotes his time to exploring new frontiers of Self-Development Education, especially as it relates to showing people what they can do by themselves for themselves to achieve their set goals at work and/or in life - despite the limitation of their circumstances or environment. In a previous life, Tayo worked for over seven years as a manager in Guinness Nigeria Plc during which time he successfully employed Self-Development techniques to give himself a consistent edge as Brewer, and later Technical Training and Development Manger. To play this role effectively, Tayo function as a multipreneur to explore, discover and document best practice ways of successfully venturing into various areas of endeavour.
Visit http://www.lulu.com/sdaproducts to download a FREE Chapter Preview of his NEW book "Ten Ways You Can Use Self-Development To Become A High Flyer At Work". Learn more about Tayo by visiting his Online Portfolio
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