Producing a great website is not just about aesthetics, it is about converting visitors in to customers or clients. Most people believe that creating a great website is all about the way the site appears. However, the “look and feel” of the site is just one factor that contributes to the quality of a website.
Many other factors interact to determine the overall quality of a website including:
- Design Fluidity and Continuity
- SEO Friendly Code
- Quality Content
- Page Load Time
- Effective Images
When selecting a web designer, the client must be aware of the fact that much more goes in to the creation of the site than simply selecting the colors, images and fonts. The purpose of the site, after all, is to generate business for the client.
Site usability refers to the “user-friendliness” of the site. In order for your site to be an effective sales tool, your site must be easy to navigate and understand by the novice user. Sites that are difficult to figure out will send users fleeing back to a list of search results for the next entry. The right web designer will ensure that your site is easy to navigate, simple to use and readily understood by a non-technical person.
An important aspect of web design is the “design” part of the process. A great web designer will not only be a technologist who is familiar with the coding aspects of web design, but they will also understand the importance of utilizing the color wheel and complementary color schemes. A great website will be appealing to the eye, as well as functional.
SEO Friendly Code
A talented web designer knows how to code your site to be SEO friendly. This process includes producing proper URL structures that will be crawled and correctly indexed by search engine spiders. SEO friendly code also includes the proper utilization of metatags, image descriptions and ALT tags. A great web designer knows how to get your site’s page ranking high in major search engine results. After all, your site is only effective as a sales tool to the extent that it may be found by users. Make sure, when selecting a web designer, that the designer is intimately familiar with SEO friendly coding procedures.
Content is often one of the most challenging elements of creating a website. The best designers usually pair with copywriters to create copy for their sites. However, great designers may write copy for their client sites. Regardless of how the copy is generated, a good site should display relevant, quality material that keeps users coming back for more. Content should be updated on a regular basis. One way to keep fresh content on the site is to create a blog that is maintained by the site’s owner or a designee. Writing blog posts in your area of expertise just might gain your site a regular following, which in itself, is a great sales tool.
Page Load Time
Google has recently begun using “page load time” as a factor in their page ranking algorithm. The faster your page loads, the higher your site will be ranked in Google’s search results. Because the other major search engines follow Google’s lead, page load time will soon be a factor with these search engines, as well. Make sure your designer is aware of the fact that page load time is an important factor in SEO promotion and marketing.
Studies show that approximately 55% of web surfers are visual learners. This simply means that people tend to learn through graphs, images and visual demonstrations. Web surfers absorb more visual information than they do when they read text. When searching for the right web designer, one criterion should be the designer’s ability to select graphic representations of the message you wish to convey. The designer must have a critical eye for visual elements that will portray your business in a favorable light.
Some pitfalls that many businesses fall into when selecting a web designer are:
* Selecting a web designer that is inexpensive.
Selecting a cheap web developer through sites such as eLance, Odesk, freelancer, rent-a-coder, etc is often a mistake that is made by clients building their first website. Many of the contractors on “lancer” are “off-shore” designers. This means that the designer is located in a country other than the US or UK. The first issue with selecting an off-shore designer is an obvious one: Communication issues. Off-shore designers are often located in vastly different time zones making communication complicated. Add to the time zone issue a possible language barrier and you have a recipe for disaster.
An old saying states, “You get what you pay for.” This statement is particularly true when selecting a web designer because they are cheap. Either the designer is inexpensive due to lack of experience, or they charge less because of the quality of their work. When selecting a web designer, make sure that the job is done right. Award the job to a designer with a history of completed, well-done projects and happy clients.
* Failure to perform due diligence when selecting a web designer
A great web designer will be able to show a portfolio of work. The designer will have a list of references from jobs that they have completed. One pitfall that businesses may fall into when hiring the web designer to create their first site is the failure to perform due diligence and check the past work of the designer.
Be sure to peruse the designer’s portfolio. Do they have and impressive client list and list of references? Are the sites in their portfolio interesting and well-done? Spend a little time checking up on the past work of the designer to make sure that you are hiring someone who will do the job right for you the first time.
Selecting the right web designer for your business site is not difficult. You just need to approach the selection as an informed and educated consumer. Ask the designer questions about their technical skills, as well as their skills that will enable you to successfully market your site. Make sure they have successfully completed other projects, and that they have a list of contented clients with whom you may consult. Great web designers are out there and they are not impossible to find. Select the right web designer the first time out and you will avoid the need to hire someone to fix a half-finished or poorly structured site.