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Shopping for a website can be a difficult experience. With everyone in the world claiming to be a web designer these days it can be tough for a small business on a budget.
You can break all the web designers into 3 distinct groups.
- Independent, inexperienced web designer. The high school student. Someday they will be a great web designer. But right now, they are young and inexperienced. You can pick-up a website for cheap, if you’re willing to sacrifice quality.
- Resellers. The absentee. Certain large companies offer the ability to resell their services. These individuals will simply sign up with some large company and sell the service as if it were their own. These services can be relatively cheap and produce a decent website. But why not just go to the source and save a few dollars?
- Professionals. The company. A business that is solely devoted to creating websites. Usually with many employees and a corporate structure. They will produce a great website, but at a cost. If you can afford it, a good choice.
The world of web design usually sticks to the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” So what should you look for when shopping for a website?
- How does the design company’s website look? If they can’t design a professional looking website for themselves, chances are, they won’t for you.
- A lot of design companies achieve #1 by having someone else build their website. Be sure to ask the design company if they designed their own website. If they didn’t, why not?
- Owning a website is a lot like owning a home. You need to perform maintenance, make upgrades, and put on a fresh coat of paint from time to time. Will the design company take care of maintenance and updates? How much will it cost?
- Where will the website be stored? Do you need to provide your own web host, or does the design company provide web hosting? If they do, how much does it cost? A lot of design companies will charge a lot of money for their web hosting when spending a lot of money isn’t necessary.
- Clear outline of design process. Building a website can be a complex act. It is good if the design company has a clear process in place that will allow you to follow along where you are in the process.
- How long will it take? Small websites should not take longer than a month to complete. Be wary of any design company that will take longer: They may be overwhelmed by too many clients and their service may be affected.
- How will you communicate with the design company? Do they have contact numbers? Are they accessible? How will you submit updates?