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Natural Net MarketingChoosing Your Web Designer

Everything You Wanted to Know About  Hiring a Web Designer, 
but Didnít, Because You Didnít Know  the Right Questions to Ask


10 things to look for in your web design company.
10 values we are proud to call our own, here at Natural Net Marketing.

1. Hire a skilled Web Designer who focuses on how to help your business make money.

 
Beware of techies who have never run a business, or recently relocated or re-engineered  entrepreneurs who are new to the business. Techies aren't famous for getting along with people or solving problems, while newbie entrepreneurs force you to pay for their learning curve. Don't be fooled by businesses spouting jargon; if they throw out enough phrases to have you running for the jargon dictionary, drop them quickly. They are snowing you. 

 
One of the best skills web designers can provide is writing and organization of materials. You can find out a thousand great programmers, but only a few good writers/editors. You need a web designer who knows how to organize your materials into a commercial presentation thatís easy to useóboth logical and intuitive. 

 
 You need to hire a company that has created a number of sites. Have they created small (three pages and less), medium (5-10 pages), large (25+ pages), and  huge (100+ pages) sites? They will know from experience how to approach your project.
 

2. Focus on results, not technology, tricks, or jargon. Your web designer should talk business and market share, not techie wizardry.

The most common approach to a new client is to talk about the future, how wonderful all the new technology will be. The key words here are "will be"; anyone predicting the future is looking in a crystal ball that changes every day. Nice for a psychic hotline, but death for any other business. 
 
Find a web designer who builds from what your audience needs. Most of the people in the new online marketplace are from areas outside of cities, with slow phone lines and a variety of computers. Simple sites reach all people, while using technological tricks limits market share.* Do you want to reach the most people, or pay way too much money for something that won't work on every machine? 

Follow the old saying; "Don't predict the future, invent it." Design should be patterned on companies making money. Talk about setting up a sales process to enhance your other marketing and public relations efforts, fitting the website into the needs of your business. 



*Hint: All sites making money use this simple formula: 
Ease of use = profit
 

3. Know your web designer's skills by what others say.

The true measure of any business is what its clients and reviewers say about it. Don't fall for the assumption that any old web designer will do; read what clients and objective outsiders say about the company. Word of mouth is your most powerful ally when choosing a web designer. 

A good web designer combines:
excellent graphic skills
programming skill
content development
knowledge of how the Web works
Make sure you get this combination and don't settle for less. The look of the page, making the text easy to read and navigate around, and a simple focus on your business' bottom line are the most important requirements of any website. 



4. You need a web designer with a business plan, not just a production plan.
 
 What is the process taken by the company to create your website? Do they customize your site or just throw you into a template? The website that is unique and takes the time to discover how this is achieved wins out over those thrown up just for the sake of being on the web. Your web designer should look at what you have to offer, make suggestions to present it that work with your current efforts, and provide the simplest design in a cost-effective approach. Don't settle for less. 



5. Steer clear of "cookie cutter" Web solutions--those offering free sites or who promise to put you up within a few days.
 
You are putting your business online; do you want to take the McDonald's approach or spend a little extra time to get a custom designed site? A free site is worthless; have you ever heard of a free website making money? Take the time to do it right and hire a professional. You can always make more money, but losing potential customers by putting up a cookie cutter website will cost you much more. Your competition will gain an advantage, because every time someone comes to your site, they'll notice how quickly and poorly it was done. And they will never come back. Would you? Take this approach and youíll have to catch up to the competition, having lost business and losing time playing catch-up. The cookie cutter solution might be cheap in the short run, but in the long run it will cost you dearly. 



6. Does your web designer understand how to provide a website for the audience that leads them through a sales process?
 
 The best websites utilize a design interface that piques the imagination, taps into the passion of the audience for the particular subject, urges feedback, generates leads and mailing lists, and develops a following. It's not the pretty pictures or fancy tricks that make money; get the audience interested, let them participate, and watch them come back again and again. Begin with a marketing strategy as a foundation for your website. 



7. Be careful of web developers in big cities, who have fast telephone connections and expensive systems.
 
The worst thing you can do is go into a big office and become wowed by all the tricks the company performs for you. Technology can be tantalizing; but the experience  being shown is often not effective in the trenches of the business world. Your true audience is out there is middle America, outside of the cities, with slow phone lines, little understanding of technology, and even less interest in it. Beware of Web developers who present a big show to dazzle you. It's not image, it's content. And what you see there is not real; just go home and try to duplicate it. The show breaks down, requires numerous adaptations to work, and will burn your audience out. 

 
 Think about a movie with too many special effects; doesn't it get old and tiring if there is not a good plot or storyline? Content and integrating the audience are the keys, tapping into the most important technology; the hearts and the minds of your prospective customers. 

 
What do your customers do online? Exactly what they do offline; gather in places that reflect their special interests. You need to tap into these interests.



8. What sort of ongoing support are you offered?
 
After you set up your website, the need to keep adapting to the audience is essential. Sometimes this means constantly updating your site; other times it requires simple repositioning, remarketing, and reuse of the same materials.

 
Many companies force you to accept the myth that all sites must be updated all the time. Find a company that works within a number of scenarios and knows how to apply them. There are many different, successful business models for the Web.



9. Is there any sort of follow-up to the design process?
 
Please understand that no one can guarantee your website will make money; would you respect such a guarantee? But how does your prospective web developer plan on dealing with you? Do they back up what they say?

 
Creating a website is not just: "If you build it, they will come!" Instead's it's a very deliberate two-step process; building the site and building the traffic.



10. Look for a web designer that talks about your website as a real business, not some neat thing to do, or keeping up with the times.
 
 Your website is an investment in an exploding medium. The market is growing -- driven by big businesses like AT&T, Citibank, MasterCard, American Express, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, et al. -- so treat your site like any long term investment. Don't fall for hype or pie-in-the-sky. Use common sense: if you wanted to open a business in the real world, what would be your guiding rules? Low overhead, quality product, and a storefront that encourages people to visit, browse, and buy. 

 
 Your website is an online storefront waiting to be built. The online world is the real world. Think of it like an empty storefront on a city street. You need the right people--carpenters, plumbers, electricians, refrigeration specialists. To get it done right, you need a general contractor. 

Likewise with your website: You need to work with one shop that fulfills all your needs, a general contractor of the Web. Fred Rohé Marketing Solutions is such a contractor. We guide the construction of your website based on what the World Wide Web really is: Direct Response Marketing. Your website is an opportunity to use inexpensive (no printing, no postage) one-to-one marketing to bring new and loyal customers into the fold. 

Are you ready to profit?

 
Adapted from "The E-Business Maximum Cash Flow System" 
© by Michael Declan Dunn 1996 
with the authorís permission 

 

 


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