What do you look for in a Web Designer?

MatthewReinboldMatthewReinbold subscriber Posts: 3
This is a question for those entrepreneurs who start businesses with a web-based component that they aren`t handling themselves.1) How did you discover the web talent that is working on your project?2) What was the biggest driver in choosing them over another canidate?3) What is one thing you wish you would have asked before they started work?4) Would you use them again and why?I know how geeks approach working with other developers. However I`d love to hear what really demonstrates value to the business crowd. What gets your business?
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Comments

  • SolidGrndSolidGrnd subscriber Posts: 11
    You know...I have to admit...I am currently in search of a web developer/designer because my website is becoming more than I can handle on my own...and these are the things I am currenlty looking for:
    1) Cost effective for start-up2) Experienced enough to do what I need......and what I WANT3) GOOD LISTENER!!!  This is huge to me...I have ideas...I don`t think they are bad ideas...I know what image I want my business to have...and although the web developer/designer might have some experience in the business of web design...I want him/her to first listen to what I am saying...and build on that...not just sluff me off as unexperienced or that I don`t know what sells. (yes...it has happened...often)4) DO NOT GIVE ME MORE THAN I NEED!!! I want an understanding developer that treats me like a person...not a computer...not just another paycheck. This site is personal to me...it doesn`t just represent my company...it shows the world who I AM!!! I started this company...I run this company...so any image put out there about the company is representative of me. In the same sense...do not make me out to be more than I am...if I want simple...give me simple...don`t keep pushing for Flash...or whatever. Give me what I ask for...no more...and definitely no less!5) TIME....TIME...TIME!!! How fast can you do this? I am an instant gratification person...sell me now or I move on!  (I mean that in the nicest way of course...and generally I give a lot more room than I am comfortable with...but that usually means I am less likely to recommend later.)
    In response to your specific questions:
    1) Still trying to discover them...not as easy as it looks...lots to choose from.2) Biggest drives: Money, Time, Ability to do the job3) N/A4) If you continually deliver as promised...don`t over promise, or over sell yourself and thus have my expectations higher than you can deliver...then I will probably be a customer for life! Screw me, leave me hanging, or lie to me...and I have no issues walking away...see response to #1.
    Hope that helps!
  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    WOW WOW, Mr. Matthew,
    Who told you that all web developers are geeks? What made you come up with that stereotype?
    Your question is what do you look for in a web developer? Well, let me tell you what takes to be a web designer/ developer. It takes more than what you would imagine. Aside from being a good lister and having the time to accomplish a project, they need to be knowledgeable of what they are doing. Anyone can design a web site (from what I see on myspace and this forum) but it really takes a developer to understand the functionality of a web site. Some of the things a developer has to take into consideration are:
    1. How fast is the web site loading;2. What is the database structure (if one available)3. How big are the images being downloaded (size in KB`s or MB`s)4. Ability to create a web site and know how to reduce bottlenecks in the database5. Able to produce a fully functional design with out clitches or something that looks like "WebSite in a box"Here let me share with you what makes a great web designer/developer:http://www.homegiftpalace.com</A>For a Full CATALOG, please contact me...Directly and I will give you a link to our portfolio.
  • MatthewReinboldMatthewReinbold subscriber Posts: 3
    Thanks for the insightful comments 
    SolidGrnd
    . These are exactly the kind of things that I`m trying to understand - how entrepreneurs approach contractual web development and what leads them toward their choice. Nuevolution - 2 questions:1) Do you find that the SEO of your client`s sites suffer because of your Flash menus and headers?2) Is this your standard way of acquiring clients? Pitching your portfolio?
  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    yes I do, Now I don`t know how much you know about SEO, but If the content is there and again "KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING" flash menus and headers shouldn`t be much to worry about. Another thing, it depends on the client too "Not everyone that you design for cares for "SEO" Alot of companys with "PULL" or should I say "Clients" don`t care for SEO, SEO is for the Masses.Alot of clients just care that they have a web site, they want to have something where they can direct their customers too. SEO is for a business that wants to get noticed, that wants to grow, that wants to be in the mainstream. There is a difference between being "Artistic" and "For the masses". We go back to what you asked: What do you look for in a web designer? My answer to you is: Able to be creative, on the edge[style], able to produce something out of nothing, and most of all "Listen to your Clients" These web sites are the voice of my clients, I`m just the translator of their dreams and what they wanted. As for pitching? I wasn`t pitching, if I wanted to pitch a web site to you I would have done it in a more professional manner. I just wanted to make sure you know what a good designer is and not to confuse the word "Geek" with web designers, we`re far from geeks...
  • MatthewReinboldMatthewReinbold subscriber Posts: 3
    rndchps - "Hey, Matthew! Hope you`re thinking about rescue of the shy to design StartUp Nation`s beginner`s CLASS Of 2006."Um - thanks? Not sure what you mean there.Nuevolution - couple things:1) What both SolidGrnd and frndchps seem to be saying is that they want: a. low cost b. a listener that will create a site their way.Being a designer you are saying you offer, first and foremost: 1) creativity, and 2) ediginess. It may depend on the client but there seems to be a discrepancy there. You are keen to show examples of `good design`. I`m trying to gauge just how important a driver that is for a small business - if two portfolios are equal it would seem there is other more important criteria for selection.2) "SEO is for a business that wants to get noticed, that wants to grow..." - isn`t that all businesses?3) "not to confuse the word `Geek` with web designers" - but the broader world doesn`t see a distinction. Anything that comes through the browser - be it web development or GUI implementation gets lumped together in people`s mind under `web design` - comparison queries on Google Trends bears this out. 4) Is geek such a derogatory term?
  • ChristinaChristina subscriber Posts: 6
    Well, I don`t know exactly what people look for, but I`ll say a couple things about reasons why people say they`ve chosen us.

    #1 We speak english. (as in, not geeks-speak-jargon). That`s seriously
    one of the big things people say they like about us. When we talk about
    something, if a person doesn`t understand it, we explain it until it
    becomes clear. I didn`t realize other web companies didn`t do this....
    but I guess not.

    #2 Flexibility in offerings. We don`t really have "packages" per se, so
    we bring lots of offerings to the table and you choose what you want
    from that. We`ve tried to develop offerings for anyone - from the large
    business to the small one-person show. I think people also appreciate
    it that we don`t have any desire to sell you on something you don`t
    want. The last thing we want is for you to get in over your head with
    bills for stuff you didn`t need to begin with.

    #3 Being mindful of clients` timelines. We may not always be lightning
    speed, but we work hard not to keep people waiting. We`ve recieved very
    nice compliments on this.

    Anyway, those are just a few things. I definitely don`t want to sound
    like I`m pushing my business on anyone, so if anyone has any further
    questions, feel free to contact me.

    I think a successful web developer really has to try to understand the
    situation of the client and try to find suitable (and pertinent)
    offerings that won`t overextend the client`s budget. This sometimes can
    mean that the client starts out with a basic website for low cost, and
    makes a plan to upgrade the website in the future.

    On a technical level, I think web developers should work to stay ahead
    of the curve in terms of current technologies, but also balance that
    with the fact that not everyone is going to buy into all the new
    fangled internet toys. Usability is important because without it,
    people simply won`t find the information they came for in the first
    place. Then they get mad and leave. After all, there`s probably plenty
    of other businesses out there where they could get what they`re looking
    for.

    And finally, I can say from personal experience that SEO _is_ 
    absolutely important. For a while when we started, we weren`t really
    focusing on SEO and we hardly ever had clients that said they found us
    through the website. Now, we`ve really expanded our SEO capabilities,
    and we regularly have people tell us they found our website and liked
    it, and decided to call.

    It`s a fine balance of skills that go into a functional, beautiful, usable, and visible website.

    Anyway... these are just my opinions. Your mileage may vary
  • FreshYieldsFreshYields subscriber Posts: 0
    Let me flip this around a bit and detail what I, as the owner of a web design and marketing firm, am looking for in a client.  I believe that this can help those prospecting for a web designer or firm to work with.Communication - The most important aspect of any service provider relationship, whether it`s web design or auto detailing.  A lot of time and money gets wasted by not having a shared vision of the end product.  This can be the fault of both sides.  The firm has to understand the needs of the client, as they are ultimately the one`s paying the bills.  However, the client needs to understand that the firm is, hopefully, the experienced expert, and has a track record of success with similar projects.  It`s an equal partnership, that if out of balance, will not produce the best results.  This is where any project starts to get unraveled, and it is very difficult to get back on track.  Believe me, the more communication coming from the client side, the better.  It helps me, as the project manager, guide the project down the right path.Patience - This doesn`t mean having patience through all the excuses for missed deadlines.  This means having patience to work within the process.  I believe there is a flow that needs to be followed on every project.  Ted touched on some of this in the above post.  Wanting a website completed in one week isn`t reasonable, unless you are willing to make major concessions, and even then, you are doomed to failure.  You might as well buy a shared template design, which I am not afraid to recommend to potential clients.  A lot of times, it`s a better alternative than building it yourself.Comfortableness - If you are not comfortable with your prospective firm or designer, and they are not comfortable with you, then it might not be a good idea to work together.  You cannot communicate effectively when you are uncomfortable, and you surely will not have much patience.  You also want to build a long-term relationship with the client, whether that brings more work, or even referrals.  Too many one-and-done clients, and you won`t be around for very long.Lastly, I look for how serious and established the client is.  Do you have a budget?  I cannot accurately propose any project without a strict budget, or the understanding of what kind of budget would be acceptable to a client.  I have proposed hundreds of projects, for what I thought was a reasonable budget, only to be high by thousands of dollars.  Sometimes it is my fault, not doing enough research or asking the wrong questions.  Sometimes the prospective client misrepresented their budgets.  Many people have said they are looking for web designers on a low budget.  Be specific on how low that budget is.  It might be $500 for one person, and $50,000 for another.  Remember, proposing projects, planning, storyboarding, and even emailing back in forth with a prospective client have hidden and true costs associated to them.  I hope this helps.  Let me know your thoughts!
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    There`s been some great advice posted in this thread - it should be a primer for anyone setting out to establish a web presence.The biggest mistake I see businesses making when it comes to initiating the process of creating a web site is to assume that all web developers are designers - or that all web designers are developers.  There are individuals/firms where you will automatically get the whole package - it`s just not always the case. Not all web designers are experts in the technical aspects of web site creation and not all web developers are knowledgeable in basic design principles.  It is something that needs to be researched thoroughly when planning your web presence.- J.
  • ChristinaChristina subscriber Posts: 6
    I just had to address this question:
    "Is geek such a derogatory term?"

    Simply put - No!
    When I tell people I`m a geek, they think I`m being negative toward
    myself, but really I`m not. Sure I`m a computer geek. And damn proud of
    it! I`ve managed to get most of my friends and family to start calling
    me "the resident computer geek" and meaning it in a positive way.
  • ChristinaChristina subscriber Posts: 6
    Not all web designers are experts in the technical
    aspects of web site creation and not all web developers are
    knowledgeable in basic design principles. 

    I agree with this 100%.  Different web development companies can
    have different strengths. Be sure your needs fit with their
    capabilities.
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    I just had to address this question:
    "Is geek such a derogatory term?"

    Simply put - No!I agree.  My partner has a degree in Computer Science.  In applying for his first job after getting his degree, his resume stated he was a "Computer Geek with Social Skills" under his name.  The firm said that was EXACTLY what they were looking for and he had a finalized job offer within two hours of his first interview.In my own case, I`m far from being a "geek."  I may use a computer for my work - but I don`t want to know the hows, whats and whys of computer technology.- J.
  • NuevolutionNuevolution subscriber Posts: 30 Bronze Level Member
    Honestly fellas "The word Geek is derogatory to me by any sense" and like Mathew said "at the end of the day, they are addressing you as Sir or Mr."I guess "to some its funny to be classified as a GEEK [Christina] I don`t like to be classified, as anything. I`m just a designer/consultant/ developer. I write in 5 languages whether you need a project in PHP,ASP,ASP.net, JSP, or Coldfusion I`ll give you the functionality and results. As fas as using Flash. I leave it up to my client to decide whether they want flash. All I do is listen to their requests and when they are done I make suggestions. As for MATTHEW, the Originator of this thread read this article
    2. FLASHThere was a big brouhaha that Flash had become search engine indexable and you no longer had to worry about its search engine issues. Frankly, I have not seen the fruits of this `improvement` to a respectable degree yet so I still consider it a kiss of death for websites designed solely in Flash. If you have a Flash-only website then I recommend one of these two options; one is to design an html version of your website and make the home page of your website html rather than Flash where you can then allow users to choose between html or Flash. The second option is to redesign the site so that it mixes both html and flash together. For example, this might mean implementing Flash amidst content on an HTML page as you would an image. I realize there are certain limitations to this option but if you can create a slick site in this manner then you will have the best of both worlds; clean search engine friendly content along with an interactive, multimedia feel. Just remember that the majority of relevant text should be in HTML format for the search engines to index.oh and for your information: Do you know the difference between a Nerd and a Geek? "Nerds think of cool stuff, and GEEKS get the job done"Nuevolution2006-9-7 12:40:43
  • SolidGrndSolidGrnd subscriber Posts: 11
    Wow...this is a pretty hot topic it seems...not to mention...it has brought all the developers out of the wood-work around here! HAHAHA...that could be a good thing for those of us looking for one.
    FreshYields...I have to ask...you mentioned that you prefer your potential clients to have a budget. Unfortunately...since I am not experienced in the ways of web development and design...I wouldn`t even begin to know how much to put into a budget for this type of service...so having the opportunity to speak with a developer or two to discuss my ideas would not only allow me to gage if it is going to be a workable relationship...but also allows the potential developer a chance to figure out what the real cost of my project might be (or at least a rough guess). In my experience web sites aren`t cookie cutter...so I it may be easy for a developer to say...these are my packages...this is how much they cost...give me a budget and we will see what we can do. But in my mind...I don`t see my site fitting into those packages but only because I don`t know enough about web D&D....so I see these package prices and I don`t see my site!? How would any of you address this? Ultimately...I am turned away almost instantly because I can`t see my site needs fitting into your pre-assigned packages...and I honestly wouldn`t even bother wasting either of our times if I can`t picture it! Ya` know what I mean!? Does that make any sense!?
  • FreshYieldsFreshYields subscriber Posts: 0
    Leah,I understand where you are coming from.  My company doesn`t have package pricing, although many companies use this model.  Most clients have pre-set budgets, or at least a max cost/value they are not willing to go past.  When estimating a project, we estimate the number of hours the project will take, apply an hourly rate to those hours, and add additional expenses or dicounts to that total.  These additional expenses can be marketing initiative, whether online or off, hosting upgrade needs, any ongoing maintenance needs, etc.My suggestion would be to write a brief about your project, being as specific to your needs as possible.  Of course, you won`t know the technical details, but it would give potential designers/developers a starting point to come up with an estimate.  Submit it to a few firms/freelancers, and evaluate the answers you get back.
  • SolidGrndSolidGrnd subscriber Posts: 11
    Thanks Steve...great idea...I guess that is where I have failed is makign it really clear what I want and need. Thanks...I will work on that today!
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