Website Design – 7 Steps For Choosing the Best Web Designer

How do you choose the best web designer when you know almost nothing about website design, what you need and how to build it?

This article will help you make an informed decision instead of just selecting the first web designer you find.

7 steps for choosing the best web designer:

1. Know the purpose of your website

Before searching for a web designer it’s a good idea to know what you want your website to do for your business. It will help the designer to know your needs. These are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to generate leads?
  • Do you want to an online presence for your offline store?
  • Do you wish to sell products and/or services?
  • Do you want to interact with your customers?
  • Do you want to build long term relationships?

2. Experienced professional

There are many amateur designers who want to become professional. The problem is they don’t have many years of experience. For example they may create a pretty design but don’t know how to create search engine friendly pages. Look for a designer that has several years of experience, the more the better. Visit their website to see the portfolio of websites they have already designed.

3. Qualifications

By viewing their portfolio you have a good idea of the types of websites they have built, however some amateur designers will simply get a template, modify it a little then charge you for a complete design. A professional web designer should at least have these skill requirements:

  • html/xhtml
  • cascading style sheets (CSS)
  • javascript
  • graphic design
  • ecommerce design
  • php script installation and customization
  • search engine optimization
  • email marketing
  • FTP

Other design qualifications

CIW (Certified Internet Web Professional) is the world’s leading Web technology certification and curriculum program. The Master CIW Designer Certification shows the designer has taken the time and made the investment to become a Master Designer. You can’t go wrong if you find a designer that has been awarded this certification.

5. Testimonials

Reading the recommendations from clients shows these clients trust in the designer’s services. Visit the designer’s website to read the testimonials. Ask for them if you don’t see them.

6. Pricing

This is going to be all over the map because it depends on the complexity of the work involved and who is doing it. An online store is containing 100s of products is going to cost more than a 5 page html website. A corporate design firm with many employees is going to charge more than a freelance web designer because they have to pay out salaries. Ask for a preliminary proposal from the designer before hiring him or her.

7. Ask for a contract

The contract should clearly state what’s involved in the design of the website, prices, maintenance and hosting fees. It should also include who owns the website and the timetable for completion.

If your web designer fulfills all these requirements, is friendly, helpful, polite and easy to work then go for it. You have made an informed decision that you will be happy with.

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Turning your website from a drab static website into an exciting lead producing machine can take time and money. Here we have a long list of lessons we have learned over the years to produce the best web design that converts readers into customers. First though, here are some quick tips;

  • Optimising your website for conversion is an ongoing long term initiative, a few quick points from this page will not make your website the best it can be.
  • Focus first on the offer, then the layout.
  • Dramatic changes can yield dramatic results. – we once turned a 40% bounce rate website into a 5% by scrapping the theme and starting again.

Excellent Design. In the end, your website is the most important piece of marketing you can own, and it must look good. The best web design obeys the rules of aesthetics and landing page design, this means premium real estate for the logo and the offer, concise use of page layout, customisable widget areas.

Customisable. You should be able to make many changes to a template without spending too much time sweating over the code. You should also be able to do most of that through a CMS system or something similar. The easiest CMS Systems are Joomla and WordPress.

SEO friendly. Your website should at least be optimised for SEO, that meant no flash, good used of H1 tags, CSS menus, title tags, meta descriptions and a HTML and XML sitemap.

Accessibility. The best web designs work with all modern browsers and have W3C valid code.

The offer should be easy to see and understand. A large dark headline with light background behind a features area will attract attention to the offer. The best web designs have all other elements balanced, so they don’t overwhelm. You should use short, direct, language that speaks to the user.

A clear primary call to action. Don’t just state “click here”. You should have action verbs that relate to the offer, like “Buy Now” or “Find Me”

Repeat the call to action. Drive customers to interact with you.

Use contrast. The more contrast you have, the easier the website is to read.

Keep the pages short and to the point. Whilst it is “en-vogue” to have a long page jammed with SEO Keywords, the best performing web designs have less content, more focussed offers and several calls to action.

Content on the left, call to action on the right.

You need a two column layout, with the sales proposition to be the first thing that the user sees. Their eye will naturally track to the right, where you put your call to action button. When they use Google to search for your product you want them to see the offer first.

White background.

All research in readability points to having a white background as THE best way to endure copy is readable. To put this another way you should have black text on a white background. If the background is not white, it makes it difficult to use any other colours in your body.

Stretchable side areas (outside of the body)

Either you need to build your website at 1000px across with stretchable side areas, or have no side areas at all.

Reduced Javascript and CSS fed from the bottom

Cut down on javascript and CSS, have them in one file each and load them from the bottom. This will speed up the web page load time.

Best Web Design Sites For Web 2.0 Design Ideas

If you were online many years ago, before the internet first became a household word, maybe you can remember how jumbled and chaotic all those early webpages were. Everybody wanted to put everything they possibly could on their sites. It was like a giant collage of content, and the net surfer didn’t know where to aim the mouse first!

Now, we’re in the era commonly known as “web 2.0.” This is the age of eBay, blogs, social networking, wikis and instant messaging. The web has changed, and web design has changed along with it.

Web 2.0 design is the new and improved version of the internet. Gone are the endless, long scrolling screens, or the sites with tiny texts and bland colors. Web 2.0 design is simpler and bolder. As a webmaster, you should be hip to these changes to improve your internet marketing. To that end, here are a few of the best web design sites where you can hone up on web 2.0 design ideas.

Web Design From Scratch: http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com

Web design is one of the more mystifying parts of starting your own website. Unless you are a “design person,” you may not know much about what looks good or bad, and what works and doesn’t work. This site is simple and straightforward, and has lots of easy explanations with screen shot examples.

The site is in a simple blog format. Along the left sidebar there are topics like “basics,” “design process” and “site architecture.” It not only discusses basic design principles (i.e. which designs work best), but that actual nuts and bolts of doing your own design in HTML or CSS. Everything is thoroughly covered, and the site walks you through each process step-by-step. The site also has a variety of tutorials that make it even easier.

Web Design From Scratch is a great general overview of the steps you need to take. It also shows you all the different options you have to choose from.

Photoshop Lab: http://www.photoshoplab.com

This site is colorful and easy to navigate. It has screenshots showing you exactly what to do, and simple tutorials that any idiot could use. With Photoshop Lab you can tackle some of the more complicated graphics programs that might now be intimidating.

The site has tips for using different programs, the latest news and reviews in the web design world, and a handy list of links to other sites with tutorials and tips. You can also search the site for specific information.

Photoshop Lab is a more topic-oriented site, so it’s most useful when you’re looking for some specific information about your design.

Template World: [http://www.templateworld.com]

Here’s a site that you can really use. This site offers you templates that you can use for your sites. This takes some of the headache out of having to design your site pixel for pixel.

Along the sidebar they list different categories. If, for example, you have a pet-oriented website, you can click on the “animals” category, and it shows you the most popular templates.

Template World has a huge variety of great ready-made website designs, but there’s one catch – it’s not free. You have to become a member, and membership runs about $50 for a half-year. But, that’s still cheaper than hiring a designer to make it for you.

We really shouldn’t be complaining about how tough it is; designing a website has never been easier than it is today. You can do it all by yourself with any one of these handy Web 2.0 design websites – they’re the best.

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