What to look for when choosing a web designer.

03 July 2015

Choosing a web designer and developer can be a complex task and is an area we see the most diversification of systems, services and inclusions. From open source to closed source, responsive or non-responsive, unique or template, the list of technical considerations is extensive and variable.

While all of these elements are important, it’s easy to get caught up in navigating the technical inclusions and forget the basic principle of why you’re re-developing or launching a new website in the first place. Remembering the ‘Why’ will help you identify the ‘Who You’re Building It For’ and keep you focused on selecting a web partner who is just as interested in developing a site that is technically sound, as it is fit for purpose.

A good starting point and relationship building exercise is to shortlist suppliers by experience and credentials – before you even get to the contractual stage. Meet your preferred web designers face to face and use the time to explore their portfolio and ability to understand your operations and desired online objectives. While there is never one pathway to achieve online success, in our experience, a good digital strategy would encompass:

Competitor analysis – know your landscape

Knowing what your competitors are doing improves your ability to outperform the market. When designing a new website, it’s important to assess your target audience and industry best practice. For example:

  • What type of online presence do they have?
  • Are they engaging social media to win market share?
  • Do they use e-campaigns or other online platforms to drive brand awareness?

A good web designer will often undertake this process as part of their proposal process, with key findings addressed in the final web design brief.

Navigation – user experience

Building a successful website, has as much to do with clean, modern design as it does with user experience and simple navigation. A visitor’s ability to find key information is critical to user experience and will impact engagement levels and time spent on site.

A good web developer will typically commence the web design process by creating a site map or navigation menu that is reflective of your industry and core service offering. To do this, they will invest time developing a strong understanding of your value proposition and business objectives.

Design – fit for purpose

Choosing the right style of website for your industry and target audience is also important. Your web design should be reflective of the function you want your website to play and be representative of the credentials you hold.

For example, if you are marketing consumer goods, the website should facilitate transaction of goods, leveraging functional design that supports product comparisons and ease of sale. Comparatively, if you are marketing technical services, your home page should make it easy for visitors to instantly understand your line of work, through strong messaging and ‘hero imagery’. In our experience this is one way to quickly develop rapport, or deter unwanted enquiries.

Assess whether the latest trends suit your business type, while also being mindful of the latest techniques in web design that could provide benefits in terms of marketing and SEO. Carefully consider whether the solution suggested by your web designer is aligned with your business type.

Brand integration – attention to detail

Consistent brand integration throughout your whole site is another critical leverage point and frequently underdone. Online brand integration is more than just ensuring website colours are aligned with the corporate style guide. It’s about considering everything from imagery, to menu and button styling, to the quality of your content. It’s the attention to detail that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Take the time to find out if your web designer creates custom web designs, or uses pre-defined templates, as this will impact your scope for design flexibility, brand integration and uniqueness.

In addition, investing in good quality search engine optimised (SEO) web content will pay dividends when you realise the power of organic ranking in online searches. Don’t be in a hurry to enter into a Google Adwords campaign, before first exploring your success with quality content and site structure. Find out whether your web designer considers your content strategy an important part of their digital solution.

In conclusion, having a good grasp of the online landscape in your industry, will help you find a web designer who is capable of producing a unique website solution that is not ‘boxed’ to fit any application.

A web partner that takes the time to understand your industry and objectives is usually a sign of an experienced and results focused team and a great starting point for developing a winning web design partnership.

Learn how Skye Gilligan Consulting supports clients to win new business and communicate capabilities online.

Meet your preferred web designers face to face and use the time to explore their portfolio and ability to understand your operations and desired online objectives.