Creating the right website starts with a vision. Often, that vision can be difficult to find if you are not sure where to look. Building a website is not an instant process just like founding a business is not an instant process. There are many elements that come together to create your web dream but we must start somewhere. Like all worth-while endeavors, it pays to hire the best instead of attempting to build an online presence yourself.

There are many people who believe that a website comes in a box or that they can upload a few pictures and their online storefront is going to look world-class but the truth is, you get what you pay for. Hiring a professional company is a must when you set out to accomplish your web dreams. The right company can not only make your website flourish for your online revenue, they can make you look incredible while doing it.

Selecting the right firm takes a bit of homework and lends itself to an understanding of basic concepts and terms in regard to website design and development.

1. Educate Yourself

Many times, clients have come to me blindly, knowing nothing of website development or design. For those clients who care nothing of the intricacies of the internet this is fine. Clients can land on their feet without knowing the basics of web design, however, it is far better to at least have a handle on the basic concepts to limit the potential problems when selecting the right firm to build your site. In short, the more a client knows the better. This is why at West Press we place client education high on our list of priorities. The more the client knows the better the experience and the better we can fulfill their needs and wants.

Please, take advantage of our Web Design and SEO Glossaries.

2. Establish Goals

A good web designer is a great listener first! What does your business need a website for? How is your offline business going to affect your online presence? What are your goals online? These are all key questions that must be addressed before proceeding with the design of the website. A professional will have the right questions to exhaust any confusion and in turn, construct a solid blueprint for your online empire.

All websites contain three aspects:

a. Function: The rationale in how the web piece affects the end user.

b. Flow: How the content is interpreted and seen by the end user.

c. Mode: How the artistic tone appears to the end user.

What mode do you like? How do you want the content to flow? What is the function of your website? These are all great questions to ask yourself to determine what you are looking for from your web presence.

3. Determine the Scope of your Budget

What is your budget? A versatile web designer will give you multiple options at your current budget that should still make your site look world-class. There are two aspects of web design costs; one time fees and reoccurring. Web sites can range in price from $300 to $200,000 depending on the amount of technology, labor and functionality involved. It is wise to know your budget prior to siting down with a web firm to discuss your web future. It is a wise decision to use discretion when shopping around and to give estimates of how much you wish to spend. Exact figures have a tendency to change over time. Use caution.

4. Selecting the right firm

Once you have done your homework, established goals and determined your budget you can interview and select the firm that will build your site. Remember, design and development of a website is a complex, highly technical and time consuming process. It is much like building a new home or a new building. Remember not be fooled by those who claim to be actual developers or designers but are “builders” who are using content management systems to upload content and actually have no coding or design expertise at all. Although this may seem like a viable and inexpensive solution to your limited budget, hiring someone who does not know how to develop a website with various coding methods will limit your design options and, if your website needs repair, you will have to hire a company who knows various languages anyway. Therefore it’s best to hire a team who can offer experience and expertise in the field.

5. Review their work and their reputation.

Take a peek at the types of websites they have built in the past. If they have a lot of experience and great reviews you can move on to the next step, otherwise it’s best to pass on them doing the work on your website. Yes, everyone has to start somewhere, but you must ask yourself the following questions; is your web venture worth leaving to the hands of your friend who has been designing or “building” websites as a hobby? Too often the answer is yes and the result is a website that is sub-par.

6. The price is right, …right?

It can be advantageous to keep your exact budget limit to yourself when shopping initially. Give web firms a general idea of where your budget estimate is. Many firms will give you a price list, estimate or proposal when you ask about the costs involved. Pricing varies but this is why you are gathering information.

Web design firms will charge you three general ways:

a. Component price: The oldest method of pricing by designers is to charge by the piece like a page or a script that is implemented.

b. Package pricing: More and more companies are bundling products and pieces to both provide outstanding artwork and product and cushion the cost of component pricing.

c. Time pricing: Although unheard of for the most part, some firms still charge solely by time involved. Most firms will only charge by the hour when extra work does not fit their pricing model.

There are literally thousands upon thousands of design firms in the world and selecting the right one can be a tedious task. Remember to weigh cost vs. design vs. expertise to get the best result possible. West Press is here to help should you have any questions. Take a peek at the skills and expertise we offer for various budget levels in our web development and design department.