When it comes to the WWW and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners are a little naive about how it all works. This is excusable as there are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media are just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.
That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”
There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites are not exactly cheap and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in many industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.
If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, follow the three tips below to guide you to a reputable website design business.
#1 – Ask Around
Your business is not the first one ever to go online so take a look at your competitors and your industry in general. Ask them some key questions if you can:
- Who designed their site?
- Don’t be afraid to ask your business colleagues who they would recommend and why? (You may have a bit of trouble getting the same information out of your competitors).
- Is the site generating the business that they need?
- Is the site difficult to update?
- What was the design process like when working with the web developer?
Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.
#2 – Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.
All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.
One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.
A quick way to check:
- Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
- Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.
This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If the theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.
Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30! All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.
Note: If you run the website for Rusty Mango Design (http://www.rustymangodesign.com.au) through the theme finder above, you will see my framework theme “Rusty Mango Responsive”. This is a bare bones framework (which I personally created, not purchased) from which I then build all my sites.
It starts out looking like this:
But, by the time I am finished designing the site, it can look like this:
That is real web design!
#3 Take a look at some of their imagery.
A little known tool called TinEye can help identify images that have been used elsewhere on the internet. You can find it at https://www.tineye.com/
- Save an image from anywhere on the net to your hard drive or right-click on it and “Copy Image Location”.
- Use the box on TinEye to upload the image or simply paste in the image location (Ctrl-V on your keyboard).
TinEye will quickly scour the internet with your image information and come back with any close matches.
Obviously this would be no use on items such as stock photography which will appear everywhere but it can be very useful when checking out “personalised” items such as logos. I recently saw a logo that looked familiar – I had definitely seen it somewhere else. So I ran it through TinEye and found 107 other logos that looked exactly the same!
Doesn’t say much for a designer if they resort to using stock images to create logos. That to me is not designing as it lacks any creativity and I strongly warn against using any design business that does this.
Agreed, the steps above will take some time and effort on the part of the small business owner however a website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.
Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table and digging a hole in your bank account.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com