Tips on choosing a web designer

Pick us.

Only kidding; there's more to it than that.

Below are some hints and tips on what to do if you want to choose a web design company and don't know where to start.

1. Always get quotes from more than one to begin with, at least three is advisable, otherwise you have no idea of your options. An additional benefit of this is that you get an impression of how they work, and if you're likely to get on withh them.

2. Check out their previous work. In our opinion they should have a wide range of examples of websites they've made on their website for you to view without asking, which click through to the genuine website. However, if they don't offer it right away and you do decide to ask, they shouldn't have any problem providing you with a list. If a web design company can only show you one or two websites they've made, you've got to wonder why... likewise if they don't click through, how do you know the website really exists?

3. Check out their previous work thoroughly. More than just look at it for a second, use the websites. Are they easy to navigate, do they load fast enough? If they don't, chances are yours won't either.

4. Look at their website. A website is a showcase for all businesses, but for a website design company it's absolutely critical. If their website doesn't work it's an extremely bad sign. If their website is 'under construction' don't touch them with a barge pole. What decent web design company can't organise finishing it's own website?

5. Look for testimonials and recommendations. You could even contact their clients (you know who they are, you've seen their websites) and politely ask how they found the web design service. Most people will be happy to tell you if they've had good service, and even more keen if it was awful!

6. If there are any terms they use that you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask exactly what they mean. They should be able to explain in a suitable manner, taking into account the fact you're not a techie. If your designer can't explain it to you, there may be communication barriers later down the line, or they may just be trying to baffle you with jargon.

7. Make sure they can provide you with a clear breakdown of what is included in the contract. It's in both your interests to have it in writing to avoid disputes (often simply due to misunderstanding) after the project is underway.

8. They should be able to provide you with statistical reports on your website's performance, so you can see how many visitors you're getting once the site is live.

9. Check that they provide ongoing support, NOT on premium rate numbers or only via email or a list of FAQs, and not at extortionate rates.

10. Tech spec crib sheet for dummies (or just non geeks):

  1. What browsers do you support?
  • Ideal answer: IE6 and up, Mozilla firefox, Safari and Opera (these are the most common).
  • Bad answer: Cross-browser compatibility? What's that then?
  1. Do you use cascading style sheets and up-to-date coding methods?
  • Ideal answer: Yes, we use the most elegant script to keep the back ends of our websites light and Search Engine friendly.
  • Bad answer: We use tables to structure our websites.
  1. What SEO methods do you use?
  • Ideal answer: We use only honest, 'white hat' methods, including keywords, titles, descriptions, search engine submission, reciprocal links and Google Sitemaps & verification.
  • Bad answer #1 We don't do SEO.
  • Bad answer #2. We guarantee you top positions in Google for all of your keywords, using all the methods that are available.