The demand for small-business web design is increasing exponentially, for the Internet has become the new frontier of customer engagement. But as demand increases, so, too, do the methods by which small businesses can get their websites built. This invariably complicated things-new web agencies, freelance web designers and coders, and do-it-yourself templates are sprouting up everywhere, making it difficult to find the quality amongst the quantity.
The process of hiring a website-design team can be simplified by being as specific as possible. Specific questions merit specific answers, and, like tweezers, these questions will get to the essence of the real requirements for project success:
What is the purpose of your website?
To you, this may seem like it has an obvious answer, but it’s of vital importance. Most freelance web designers and coders specialize in a few select categories of web development (such as e-commerce design), so defining the purpose of your site-e.g., to sell a product, offer a service, build community engagement, regularly write and distribute content, etc.-will filter out a significant number of workers from your list of options.
What medium of hiring do you want to use?
There are a number of ways to locate prospects for small-business web design-the three main ones being agencies, freelance marketplaces, or referrals from trustworthy contacts. As with any field, referrals are usually the best routes. If you’re lacking contacts, however, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of agencies and marketplaces. The former has more to offer, but is usually quite expensive. Marketplaces come cheaper, but involve a great deal of trial and error due to the alarmingly high number of unqualified workers who frequent them.
What questions do you want to ask prospective freelance web designers and coders?
Once you’ve found some potential freelancers who specialize in small-business web design, it’ll be time to ask them some key questions about their specific skills. Inquire about the essentials:
- What websites have you created in the past? (Look for professional, up-to-date design levels, styles and user interfaces.)
- Are the sites you create accessible from any browser? (Alignment, text consistency and readability should be static across all browsers.)
- What logic do you apply behind the page layouts?
- Do the sites you create load on mobile devices? (You’ll be losing roughly 40% of daily traffic if you’re site doesn’t load properly on smart phones and tablets.)
- Which days of the week are you available?
- How many other projects are you currently working on?
Feel free to throw in additional questions that are important to your project.
What kind of team composition will you require?
The scope and budget of your project will have a significant effect on your team’s composition. Best practice in small-business web design, however, is to hire at least one designer and one developer. Some freelancers like to claim that they can do both; these people should be considered with great caution, for although they may have general skills in freelance web design and development, they’re likely lacking substantial talent in one category or the other.
You may have to add more to your composition if you require small-business marketing. In this case-which is typical of e-commerce designs-web analysts and consultants can be of great help.
Do you have example sites that reflect your overall goals?
Once you’ve established a suitable team composition, you’ll need to supply your team with a few strong examples of small-business web design that demonstrate what you’re looking for in your own website. You could also do worse than find a couple of examples that you don’t care for. In effect, your designer and developer will be equipped to create something original that makes your small business unique from competitors.