Finding a talented web designer/developer able to work with you well to create the site you want can be daunting. Web design is an expensive proposition and it’s the public face for the work you do in the world.
What skills are you looking for? What does a talented web designer/developer do? As James C. Armstrong, Jr., Director of Engineering for a successful internet enterprise explains: “The most important thing I look for when outsourcing website development is that that they understand that the purpose of a website is to present content efficiently in an attractive manner.”
Here are important criteria:
Training and Experience: Does the designer have training and experience in web design? In internet terms, more than four or five years is a seasoned veteran. How about credentials and other publishing experience? Ideally, your site designer has a background in related publishing. How long has the organization or the individual been in business? Are they genuinely professional and in web design for the long term? Will they be around in a year or two when you need to tweak the site?
Breadth of Skills: Developing a serious website calls for a range of talents — excellent project management, graphic design, technical competence, to name three important aspects.
Planning Process: Can the designer clearly explain the development process including the tools to help you determine the features and appearance of the site? If it isn’t planned carefully, later revisions can be costly in time and money.
Talent: Look and visit sites from their portfolio. Do you like the look they created? Is the navigation easy? Any misspellings or broken links?
Communication: Ask the person you would be working to explain a technical detail. Is the designer easy to work with and talk to? Able to communicate technical information so that you can understand it? Do you have a good rapport with the person? Will that person be directly involved or will your account be handed off to a junior staffer?
References: Talk with former and existing clients. Would they work with the designer again? Did the designer communicate well? How flexible was he or she? How creative? Were deadlines met? How quickly were calls and emails returned?
Budget: Usually, the larger the design firm, the more they charge. On the other extreme, companies that create sites from a pre-packaged template aren’t capable of coming up with solutions tailor made to your needs. A middle ground may be best: custom design at a reasonable, but not dirt-cheap price.
Location: It’s not necessary to hire a local designer, unless you feel most comfortable with periodic face-to-face contact. Organic-Design serves all of California.