Anyone can claim to design websites. So before you hire a designer, it's important to ask a few key questions. Oliver Feakins of WebTalent recommends starting with a request to see past work. "Reputable firms have a gallery or portfolio of websites that they have designed," he says. "Take the time to actually go to the sites and check them out."

Then, pose queries like these:

  • Will you see a project through to completion? If you're considering a self-employed designer, or a larger Web-design firm that works with independent contractors, it's important to know what will happen if the person assigned to your project becomes unavailable.
  • How much will this cost? "It's not unusual to pay anywhere from $800 to $8,000 for a 20-page static website design, depending on the level of design and functionality included," notes Feakins. There is a tradeoff between price and service, and he recommends looking for a reasonable midrange compromise.
  • Do you build search-friendly sites? "Many firms will say they create SEO friendly websites," he argues, "but the only optimization on the site are a couple meta tags that give virtually no value." Be wary if they make no mention of site architecture or link-building, or make implausible promises of immediate first-place rankings.

Finally, don't ignore your gut reaction. "Whether you feel that you can trust the firm or alarm bells are going off inside your head," he says, "listen to your instincts, because they generally are right."

The Po!nt: Since your website speaks for your company on a 24/7 basis, finding the right designer is critical. "Take your time and find the design firm that truly fits with your company and understands your needs," advises Feakins.

Source: SiteProNews. Click here for the full post.

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