Your First Website - Design It Yourself or Work With Web Designers From Vancouver BC to Wash DC

In today's multimedia online world, having a web site is not enough to set yourself apart from your competitors. Whether your web site visitor lives in Vancouver or London, in the blink of the eye, the web surfer has come and left your web site before you had a chance to pitch him your product or idea. Before you even begin to design your web site, ask yourself what you want your web site to do for you.

First, when you want to make a web site, you have to know the most basic thing of all. What is your web site going to be about? If you can't answer that, you can't go any further. The most important part of a web site is the content. If you don't know what you want to put into a site, you need to think about it and make a decision. Only then can you move on.

After you determine what your web site's purpose is, you'll then want to consider the design. Having knowledge of scripts and web building languages such as HTML, XML, PHP, etc... can help you create your own first version of your site. However, if you think you'll need more in depth multimedia presentations, using flash, audio, video or other more advanced multimedia tools, you may need the knowledge and experience of seasoned web site designers from Vancouver, BC, to Washington, DC, or a city near you.

When considering hiring a web design professional, the most important thing is to let your web designer know what it is you want to accomplish with your web site. If he or she knows the basics of your business - shoes sold around the world - or a local restaurant in Vancouver your web designer will be able to offer you valuable design suggestions. The more input you give the design company, the more they can help you with this process. In this way, your web designer will be able to suggest the appropriate multimedia according to the nature of your target market

While no one else can know your business better than you do, don't micromanage the web design process. Don't wait for the final product, but stay involved in your web site's design with regular updates. While both you and the web designer have your target market in mind, your designer is always aiming to make your web site user friendly. With advances in state of the art multimedia technologies, providing visitors a rich multimedia experience can greatly increase client retention.

How to Find a Good Web Designer - Developer

Choosing a good web designer is not just about getting some guy to build you a good looking web site. There are many factors that can and will affect the success of your site. For you to know what qualifies as a good designer/developer you need to be educated. That is the intention of this article.

I believe that your web site development begins with a plan. A solid plan that incorporates search engine optimization,(SEO) and usability at its foundation. Building your web site in this manner will enable your SEO to be much easier with just minor tweaking and updating. At the time of this writing it is still not yet possible for search engine spiders, a.k.a: robots, to make sense of everything you have on your website.

Spiders love text. They don't read javascript and they do not have the ability to read complex flash text or images. Making sure that your entire web site including all its pages are indexed by the spiders is essential. If they can't see your pages, it may as well not be there.

So what does all this mean to you in your search for a web designer or web developer. In case you're wondering why I refer to designer and developer as if they're two different things, the fact is, is that they are.(if you want to be technical). Web designer seems to be the general term thrown about as one who makes or builds web pages. However this is usually the person who designs the physical appearance of the web site. He usually just works with images. Since there's more to building a functional web site than just pretty pictures and fancy moving graphics, it may surprise you that a web page can in fact also be a computer program, or more appropriately, a web application. This is the behind the scenes code that gives the site its intelligence, so to speak. Some web designers are only responsible for completing a physical design for your site. If they don't code in HTML or CSS, the design usually photoshop or fireworks, then goes to the coder, who actually puts it all together using html, CSS and in some instances a scripting languages like PHP, asp.net or ruby for back end programming. The end result is a web page that renders in the users browser and depending on whether some scripting was included, also allows the user to interact with the page and make choices and decisions. This is the very short version of a somewhat complex subject.

If you can keep this in mind when you go over the contract it will help you understand why the programming aspect (developing) of your site is usually pricier. Any serious web design company will have an in depth contract and should not hesitate to explain details of the contract to you.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines standards and best practices for web design and development and you should make it a point to ask your web guy whether they will be designing your website with standards compliant code. This just means adhering to the W3C standard.

If they say that they intend designing the layout of your web page using tables, insist that they don't. For two reasons:

  1. Using tables for layout is not standards compliant and could adversely impact page loading times. (not good) The more code in your page the larger the file and the larger the file the longer it takes to download.
  2. Updating and maintaining web pages will be much harder, and could take longer, which may translates more being more expensive.

When you think of your website project try thinking ahead and plan for the long term. You want a site that is extendible and can be managed more easily. Best practices are not called such for no reason. I stress this point because it's an important one.

A portfolio will give you a glimpse of what the designer / developer is capable of will allow you to see the design style. Any web designer with sense won't include customers in their portfolio who were not happy. It's bad for business. Searching for a good designer in reputable online listings is a good place to find a web designer or any other service for that matter where the company or individual will be rated by the public.

It is of greater importance to that firm that they perform well since their rating is available for the public to see. An example of such listings would be Yahoo's Local Search listings, or online Yellow pages. A good source for finding a good web designer is to speak to people who you know who have had first hand experience and who built their web sites. If people have been given good service they usually don't have any problem recommending their designer to you.

It is OK to ask for a mock up site. Usually designers will tend to make 2 mock ups for you to compare and sometimes they may even show you an array of various web styles and templates prior to commencing. This is a way of narrowing down the style, how many columns, colors and themes he will need to design for.

The web developer needs to advise you on every aspect of the design process. He should educate you and explain in very plain terms the reasons for doing things. Don't just take his word for it. Ask why. He needs to give attention to what content you intend putting on your site also, because SEO is all about content, keywords and relevance. Obviously the content decided on is ultimately the client's decision, but a responsible designer should inform you of how you could optimize your content. It is important to note that some web designers usually are not experts at SEO and there are specific SEO companies or individuals that do just that, however it is best if they work hand in hand with the designer of your website. If you do find a web designer that can do a good job of SEO then you stand a better chance of your web site being easier to market and rank.

So here are a few points I believe would make an overall good choice in a web designer/developer.

  1. Expresses the importance in planning your site for user friendliness
  2. Understands good web design that is standards compliant
  3. Can think through the eyes of the potential visitor of the clients site
  4. Uses colors well and researches the target audience.
  5. Educates the client and explains web terminology in layman's terms.
  6. Plans a site from SEO perspective, with attention to file structure and naming schemes.
  7. If doing any programming, all the above applies and also strong focus on usability of the application. Easy user interface, secure and full featured to name a few..

These points are by no means the hard and fast rule, its just a guide. However, I believe most importantly above all, you should get good service. Good quality service is the best marketing tool for any business and you should expect it.

How to Find Freelance Web Design Job Opportunities

Freelance web design job opportunities are easier to find than ever before. Yet because of the rising demand for web designers in the past decade, freelance web design has become an increasingly popular career choice. The internet has paved the way for businesses to broaden their client bases and to reach customers globally, thus creating a large lucrative market for freelance web designers. But how can a freelance web designer find enough work in such a competitive market to sustain a steady income? Learning to find freelance web design job opportunities can be as simple as browsing online job boards, using bidding sites, and/or seeking clients locally. The secret to finding steady work as a freelance web designer is to build a satisfied client base who will be happy to recommend your work to others. Make the most of every contact, and use every available option for finding freelance web design job opportunities.

Seek Local Clients

Although there are a wealth of jobs to be found online, many freelance web designers prefer to find local clients. Freelancers can find local clients by cold calling local professionals and businesses. Some freelancers use a marketing kit that includes a mailer, brochure, and even press releases.

Browse Online Job Boards

There are many different types of job boards online, ranging from exclusive freelance job sites to corporate job boards. Many online job boards dedicated exclusively to freelance web design jobs. Others cater to a broader design market to include not only freelance website design jobs but also freelance graphic design work, illustration jobs, creative design work, programming and development jobs. All types of job boards can offer freelance web design job opportunities, but by visiting job boards focused only on freelance work, finding work as a freelance web designer is usually easier. Many online job boards allow users to post an online resume or portfolio page, making it easier for those seeking a freelance web designer to hire one directly rather than posting a job ad.

Use Bidding Sites

In addition to more traditional job boards, where an employer posts an ad for applicants to respond to directly, many freelance web site designers have luck finding jobs at freelance bidding sites. These sites work a bit like an auction, except that the job is not automatically awarded to the lowest bidder. An employer posts a freelance web design job, and freelance website designers bid on the job by quoting a price for the project. An advantage of bidding sites is that most allow those seeking freelance web design job opportunities to fill out a portfolio page listing areas of expertise and other details, so employers can come to them.

For freelance web design work, visit the Go Freelance job board. Choose from many fresh freelance web design jobs, freelance graphic design jobs, freelance illustration jobs and more.

Combining Web Design Business With Web Hosting Can Generate More Income For Web Designers

Web designers and developers are the foundation of the Internet. If you are skilled in web design or web development you can make a growing income on the Internet. The secret to making money with your web design and development skills is to include web hosting in your web design or web development quotes or standard packages.

You can add $50 a month to your income, hosting your client sites with more ease. You don't need to get a dedicated server and you don't need to worry about trying to compete with web hosting companies. What most people think is just getting a website up. They contact the web designers first, without really knowing that there are web designers and web hosts. Terms with "web designer"get more searches per day than terms with "hosting". People are looking for web designers to get their sites on the Internet.

Web designers and developers can incorporate the sale of hosting into their web development and design projects. As a web designer you can bill your customers for the hosting fees within the design and then host the account for a year or on a month to month basis. You will be surprised at how much extra income you can generate from your web design customers.

Providing hosting for your web design clients will give you greater assurance that your customers will come back to you to make changes or update their site. This allows you to keep generating income from your work and customer base. Let's look at some numbers, and how billing for hosting on top of your web design work can make you some serious money. Let's assume you get paid $500 - $1000+ for a site design. If you charge your client for hosting as well you could generate up to $50 extra per site, per month in hosting fees. You could make up to $1100 to $1600 per site, per year instead of just $500 or $1000 per site. With 100 clients this could equate to $110,000 or $160,000 per year instead of $50,000 - $100,000 per year. On top of this, remember your client is more likely to come back to you to update and maintain your site which means more money for you, for easy work.

With a little effort and focus you could generate a very healthy income in your web design business. With tools like Joomla, WordPress and other highly customizable content management systems you can make the hard work incredibly efficient so you can focus solely on the design. Right now there are a myriad of powerful web applications, content management systems and shopping carts you can quickly install in your reseller web hosting account and produce a design for very quickly. There are also a myriad of ready to run, specialist applications written in ASP, ASP.Net and PHP that you can bolt on to your customers site, customize the design for and really impress your them. With these easily installable web applications you can very quickly impress your customers and raise the value of your web design fees - and the fact that they are specialist customized web applications you have put together, your web design customer will be happy to pay your hosting fees.

For your design business you don't need anything fancy, you don't need dedicated servers or specialists billing or server management systems. You can utilize the cost efficiencies of shared hosting to maximize your profit. One way to do it and a lot of designers do this, is get a new shared hosting account for each site they design and charge the customer more than they pay.

The better way to do it and really maximize your profit is to get a reseller hosting account where you can host all your customer sites in the one hosting account. This works out much cheaper than getting a separate account for each customer site. A good reseller account will give you far more room to move and even greater cost effectiveness which means even more profit and less effort.

Getting up and running with a good reseller hosting account is easy and incredibly affordable. For just a few hundred dollars per year you can host 50 or more sites. A quick search on reseller hosting will give you plenty to choose from. In our experience Windows hosting reseller packages are a good idea as a Windows reseller hosting account will give you the freedom and choice to run ASP, ASP.Net as well as PHP sites with MySQL or SQL Server databases. Linux hosting is incredibly efficient and gives you some of the cheap hosting options available but does not support ASP or ASP.Net applications. For an extra few dollars a month you can get Windows hosting and dramatically increase your options for your web design customers from a wider array of available web applications and freely available code in ASP and ASP.Net.

With Windows hosting you can use all your favorite web design tools and you'll have the vast resources of Microsoft development products like Visual Studio at your disposal. As a reseller looking at Windows hosting accounts make sure the host offers Multiple IIS sites and not just unlimited domains. To properly host multiple sites on Windows each site needs to have it's own entry in IIS (Internet Information Server - the Windows web server). Many hosts say unlimited domains and what they really mean is running unlimited domains on one site. All you get with unlimited domains on one site, is your multiple domains show the same site or requires you to write code to detect the domain and redirect to a directory. This is not a great way to run your customer sites.

With each site having it's own entry IIS means you can have separate application settings, assign it to different application pools and maintain separate log files. This means you can have more control, more flexibility and produce a much better solution for your client. Being able to put your customer sites in separate application pools means that if one of your customer sites get's busy or some crazy bug causes a problem it will isolate it to just that site and you wont end up with all your customers screaming at you that their sites are down.

After 12 years working on the internet. Through booms, through busts, good times and bad times web designers and developers quietly rule the web. Businesses of all sizes look for web designers first and in our experience they really don't want to know too much about hosting. As a designer you can save your clients from the complexity and confusion of hosting and make money from it. To make money from hosting your client work you really don't need to leap out and set yourself up as a web hosting provider with billing systems, hosting plans and support systems and processes. Start off by hosting all your sites in one reseller hosting package and you'll be surprised at just how much extra money you can make for very little effort. The best thing of all you can keep your focus on why you became a web designer - designing web sites!

Web Site Design and Choosing the Right Web Design Company

It's been several years since you had someone design your company web site and now it's outdated. You are losing business to competitors that have quality designed web sites with great layout and navigation. This may be your first company web site and you want to make the most of your money and time.

How do you choose a quality web design company that will understand your companies' objective for designing or redesigning this web site?

First, you need to answer a few questions.

1. What is your budget and time frame for completing the web design or redesign project?

2. Are you going to be using original content and pictures for building this web site?

3. If this is a website redesign, are you planning on getting updated images and content for this new look and layout or will you need the web design company to supply them for you?

4. Does any one at your company have basic editing skills and will they be able to update the website content or will this be an ongoing job for the web design company you hire?

5. Are you looking for a local web design company?

6. Do you already have an idea of your web design colors, layout, and navigation?

Knowing the answers to these questions, will help you when you locate the right web design company.

Now it's time to find the right web design company for your needs. Go to Google and search for local web design firms and you will see how many results show. Take "web design orlando" for example: Results 8,860,000. Wow, there are a lot of results for "web design orlando".

Don't panic, you will probably find a company that can do the quality web design work you need in the first 50 results. Quality web design firms will have a portfolio of work online that will show an example of their custom web design work. Start at the first web design result on work your way down.

Examine the portfolio to see if there is anything equivalent to the web design layout you are imagining. You will be able to tell immediately if this web design firm is right for your company and its look and feel. Find out how long they have been in the web design industry and compare that to how many quality web sites they have designed in that time.
If this is a redesign, find out how many web site redesigns that have completed and ask to see the web site before and after the redesign.

Find out if they have the staff available to work on your entire web design needs and that they know the programming necessary to complete the job in a timely manner. Ask for references, a top end web design firm will be glad to offer up references on the web design work performed. Most web design references will be glad to talk to you about the quality job your potential web design company did on their web site.

Depending on your web design budget, it may help to several quality web design companies to talk to. You will want to get at least 3 estimates and it never hurts to have more.

Remember, when it comes to your business and your companies exposure on internet, take you time locating a quality web design company. Your future may depend on it.

Choosing the Right Web Designer

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design company for your site is extremely important. Unless you run a web-based business, you probably do not have web design experience within your company. Building your web site will take time and a little homework!

To create a web site for your business, follow these 4 simple steps:

  1. Establish your goals
  2. Determine your budget
  3. Pick a web design company
  4. Pick a web hosting company

Establish Your Goals

Before you begin looking for company to help you design and build your web site, take the time to understand the goals of your web site. This will be extremely important to help set expectations with the web design company you choose.

In order to set your web site goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you want a web site?
  • Are you selling something?
  • Do you have a catalog of products that changes on a regular basis?
  • Who is your target market?
  • Do you already have a brand?
  • What is your industry?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Do they already have web sites? If so, what do they look like?
  • If you're selling something, will you accept credit cards over the internet?
  • How soon do you want your web site?
  • What happens if you never create a web site for your business?

Take the time to answer each of the above questions and if you have time, write the answers down on a sheet of paper. These are the same questions most web design companies will ask you before they begin to create your site. If you have these questions answered up front, you will have some criteria for choosing the right web design company. For example, if you are a real estate agent, and want to publish listings on your web site, you should seek a web design company that knows about the real estate business and has created web pages for other real estate agents.

Determine Your Budget

How much do you want to spend on your web site. Web sites can cost you anywhere from $100 to $100,000 depending upon what you want it to do. Know your spending constraints before you begin negotiating with design companies. Whatever you do, do not tell a web design company what your budget is!! Always get pricing based on your needs, not you budget.

Pick a Web Design Company

Your choice of a web design company is a very important step. Take your time to investigate all of your options. Here are some important items to consider.

Design vs. Build

Depending upon the scope of your web site, you may need to choose two different companies. Building a web site is a highly technical process. Designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. The process of creating a web site is similar to the process of building a new home. Before you ask a construction company to start building, you first seek out an architect who creates a blueprint of your house taking into account what you want (number of stories, square footage, etc.). Creating a detailed blueprint before construction begins can help you accurately estimate the final price. Without the blueprint, you may end up paying a lot of money for a house that does not fit your needs. Creating a web site is exactly the same except most web site "builders" also claim to be "designers". The good news is that you can look at other sites a web design company has created (like looking at other homes that a home builder has made). Make sure you ask the web design company what their process is for designing a web site vs. building a web site. They should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don't, they're probably builder that think they can also architect.

Evaluate Experience

Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? As with any services company, choosing someone that has relevant experience. If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience doing just that?

Review the Portfolio

A well established web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you? In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn't they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

Compare Prices

Pricing for creating a web site can vary. Typically, web design companies will charge one of three ways:

  • Time and materials: price is variable based on the actual number of hours spent working on your site. For example, a web design company may charge you $75 per hour. If it takes 100 hours to create your web site, your price would end up being $7,500.
  • Fixed Price: some design companies will charge you a fixed fee based on a fixed set of requirements. If you outline your requirements very carefully, many web design companies will quote you a single price.
  • Component Pricing: some design companies will charge "by the page". By creating a price based on the number of pages, you can control the cost by designing a specific number of pages. Buyer beware: some design companies will charge by the page but will have "special pricing" for components such as custom graphics, animated images, and the like.

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front. Also make sure that you understand what "done" means. Try and structure the payments such that a significant portion of the fees (20%) are not due until you "accept" the final web site. Include the agreed-upon dates in your contract and provisions for what will happen if these dates are not met.

Solicit bids from multiple web design companies and compare both the pricing models and the prices themselves.

There are thousands of web designers across the country and they should all fight feverously for your business! Be picky! If a web design company dismisses any of your questions regarding their design process, pricing, or client references, take your business elsewhere!

Choosing the Right Web Designer

So, you've finally decided that you need a web site for your business? Well, there are a few key-points to remember BEFORE you make one of the most crucial decisions for your business.

Choosing the right designer for your new business web site:

When it comes to choosing the right web designer for your web site, you should always shop around first to check out all of the available options. There are many web design companies out there to choose from. And most of them are pretty good at what they do.

Always ask to see samples of a web designer's previous work and examine their portfolio. This will help you get a better feel for the style of sites any particular web designer is capable of doing. Most of the time, web designers have their own unique style and you can easily spot which designs they've done in the past. I mean, it's similar to any other artist's style; you can definitely spot their previous works based on the general layout, color scheme, and over-all visual appearance of the sites.

Experience is also a key factor here. Just like any other craft, web designers get better with experience. So naturally, you'll be better off by choosing a web designer who has more experience under his or her belt.

Another key point you should define is whether or not the web designer can make you a 100% custom web site. Or will it be just a basic template web design that 100's or even 1,000's of people already have across the Internet. Pretty much anybody these days can create a basic HTML web page in Microsoft Word or Publisher and change the title of it to reflect their Branson business. But you must ask yourself: "is this really what I'm looking for"?

Web sites that are truly custom built will stand out more the rest of the basic template web designs that so many people are using these days. A custom web design will catch the eye of your potential customers and show them that you have a really professional web presence and you mean business.

A lot of web designers these days choose to do the template web sites for one of 2 reasons:

It's cheaper to use a basic template web design. They might be lacking the necessary skills needed to develop a fully custom web site. Whatever the case may be, make sure you go with a designer who is capable of creating a custom web design for you. It will inevitably cost you more for a custom site. But it is totally worth the extra money spent. Trust me, in the end you will be much happier with your web site if it is a site that's unique and created for just your business and not everybody else's.

Communication with a potential web designer is also critical in the development of your web site. You need to be perfectly clear and define your goals up-front, before you actually sign a web design service contract with a designer. Make sure you know what you are getting for your money and make sure you get it in writing! I have a 9-page web site design contract that I use every single time I design a new web site. Included in this contract is an itemized list of all work that is to be performed during the development of the web site. Things like the exact number of pages, the exact number of graphics to be designed, whether or not I need to create a logo, the estimated time before completion, whether or not routine site maintenance will be performed after the site is 6 months or 1 year old, etc.

Defining these things will help you in the long run and will also make sure you and the web designer are on the same page.

I also use what I call my "web design planning worksheet". This worksheet gives "milestones" or deadlines for each phase of the web design project. Things like "In 2 weeks the general layout will be done" and "2 weeks after that, the site will be coded and launched" and then "In one moth after the web site is launched, we will evaluate it to see what needs to be adjusted", etc. (these are just examples, by the way. the details included in one of my actual worksheets gives exact dates and more specific milestones).

And what about the web hosting for your new web site? Usually, a web designer will provide some kind of insight as to which hosting company they recommend. Web designers in general have a preference for a hosting company that they know will be a good choice for your web site and they should assist you in making this selection.

Fortunately, we have our own web server here at Digital Spiral Web Design so we can do all of the hosting ourselves. This is very beneficial because we can make sure the web server stays up and running and if there is any maintenance that needs to be performed on the server, we can do it ourselves in a timely manner. Plus, we will always cut a deal for our web site hosting services to any new business who chooses us to do their web design.

Will your new web site require any specialized web programming? Well, the answer to that question is based solely on the needs of your Branson web site. What kind of site will it be? Does it need a shopping cart for e-commerce? Will you be implementing any special web applications or online forms for your viewers to fill out? Will it be a web site that requires your viewers to fill out registrations and sign up so they can login? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then chances are you'll need a web designer who can also program.

Web developers and designers must be skilled in the art of web PROGRAMMING (something that is very different from regular web DESIGN). Web programming involves the implementation of different web programming languages like JAVA, PHP, Flash, SQL, or.NET. All of these web programming languages need highly skilled individuals to code them and develop web programs with them.

I personally love PHP! I use it for pretty much everything. I won't go into the details of PHP in this article (I would have to write an entire book about it to cover all of it). But with PHP, I can create pretty much any web application that is logically possible.

So, make sure you choose a web designer who is also capable of coding any special functions that your new web site needs. This decision needs to be discussed and gone over by any potential web designer you might use to create your Branson web site.

And finally, you should always check with the potential web designer's previous clients to make sure they give him or her a good reference. Remember: it just like any other service. You need to verify a web designer's references and make sure they can do what they say they can do.

So, just to summarize all of the tips I've mentioned:

Ask questions, questions, and more questions before you choose a web designer. Clearly define your goals from the beginning. Ask to see the web designer's portfolio and samples of their previous work. Make sure they can help you with choosing a web hosting provider. Get documentation to show exactly how many pages will be included in the project and the estimated time before completion. If your Branson web site requires special web programming, make sure the designer can handle it. I hope this article helps anybody who is getting ready to have a new web site designed. A good web site can really do wonders for your business!

Here at Branson website design, we specialize in affordable custom web design for all businesses! We also offer very affordable pricing for our web hosting services. If you would like to know more about our services or to see our web design portfolio, visit our main company web site at the link below. We offer affordable custom web designs!

Affordable Web Design Options

Web designing is one of the toughest challenges faced by many companies that aim at utilizing the power of the Internet to their benefit. There are more than a million pages on the World Wide Web, with each constantly competing for attention, in the form of search engine ranks. It is advisable for companies to approach the task of web designing from a professional perspective, to uncover the full potential of their website, and make a difference to their business. Most companies have a wide customer base all over the world, and hence there is a great demand for professional web designers to design and promote their sites. Many companies that have high advertisement costs usually like to go for affordable web design options.

Companies all over the world have realized the importance of globalization. Most companies endeavor to make people aware of their products and services, by operating customized websites that are designed by professional designers. Web designing is a career in which trained professionals, utilize their web designing skills to maximize profits for clients. Professional web designers are information analysts, who can help clients structure web page systems to manage large volumes of data. They utilize their expertise in guiding and improving, the accessibility and usability of their client?s websites.

Companies that offer affordable web design options, help small and medium business, develop and maintain a web presence. In order to stay competitive in the market, online business is no longer considered an option but a necessity.

These companies offer high quality and visual impact designs at affordable prices. They create graphics and print layouts that coordinate with websites.

For companies that are just beginning to discover the potential of doing business on the web, and would like to test the market in an affordable manner, custom design or web template program is the best option available.

Important Things Every Web Designer Should Know

As a novice web designer this question probably looms in your head. What are the ways to be a better web designer? Mastering the visual design, usability, utilization, and coding are some of the most important issues to have an effective design implementation of web site. Aside from those issues, however, knowing the basic details is an important element of essential web design; either you are just starting to work as web designer or a professional one.

Some of the most essential things every web designers should know:

Know your goal. As a web designer, what is your first goal that comes into your mind when building a website? Maybe, making money online or to tell a story with a personal website on the web. But wanting and building a good web site is another one. Your first goal therefore is to have an effective web design. In marketing sense, a poor web design has no sales. And no sale means no traffic and no visitors. A poor design is as good as a web site not existing.

Build a website and keep it simple. We always heard this dictum that simplicity is beauty. Simplicity must always be the first guiding principle when you start thinking and developing your ideas to your website. With all the tools and technology are just within our reach, it must be attempting to build a complex web design. This is a no-no. Visiting readers visits a website to find information and it always their instant gratification that guides them. They demand you to give them the information as fast and clearly as possible. Failure to meet their expectation to your website, there is always the back button they can hit and you would likely lose your visitors because of poor implementation of your website.

Know the HTML. If you aspire to be a better web designer in this field, master your HTML. HTML is the right tool to have an effective web design. This will help you execute properly your ideas that will make your website worthwhile and interactive to visitors.

If you don't know a single thing about HTML, there is always the Google search engine that can help you have some basic knowledge about HTML. You can search for online tutorial (like w3school tutorial for HTML) and start studying HTML with your own risk.

Use basic fonts. In web design there are fonts that are considered to be web safe. These web safe fonts like "Helvetica", "Arial", and "Time New Roman" are widely used and installed for every computer. When you use a font that your visitors do not have installed in the computer, the web browser will choose default fallback fonts. These fallback fonts will likely destroy your website's layout and make the content difficult to read.

Stick with standard layout. A flash-basedweb sitecreates an impression of creativity. However,most Internet users nowadays expect a conventional layout. Understand that your visitors hate to wait and flash-based layout takes time to upload. With conventional layout, you can be certain that it does not slow down the browsing process and helps maintain a good user interface.

Keep your images small. Try to design your website with graphics small in file size. The lower the file size of images, the faster the loading process of your web site. Save the images with graphic formats such as .jpeg, GIF, or PNG extension.

Keep your code clean. Learn the proper technique of coding HTML. Keeping your HTML's code clean helps your site to load faster and conserve bandwidth.

Avoid distracting elements on your page. Design your web page with balance between those animated gifs and flashy advertisement. Place them in a proper table in a way that it is not distracting and annoying to visitors.

Learn the Truth about Your Web Design Company by Its Portfolio

When you start building your online business and search for a web design company that will implement all your needs for the web site you must understand that it is a very serious step because you are entrusting your business along with its reputation and future.

That's why it's very important to make the right choice.
There are several factors that must define your choice, and one of them is portfolio of previous web design works the company has done. It can tell you more than all words and promises, just be attentive and try to analyze. I will tell you what you must pay attention to:

1) Presence of portfolio

Yes, it seems to be obvious that web design company must have own web site with portfolio of previous works. But don't be astonished too much when you see one without it. There can be various reasons for this but I wouldn't recommend you to tempt fate. Portfolio is like a "face" and it's pride of web design company, it must be full, substantial, and routinely updated...and IT MUST BE!

2) Total number of works

This can tell you much however there is no standard number that will guarantee you are going to deal with web design guru. Yes, 50 successfully finished projects is better than 5, but their quality is also important. Compare the number with period of time during which the company operates in the market and calculate average number of projects per year, month, or week. Remember that average web site design takes 2-4 weeks to be finished.

What this information can give you? Firstly, you can see that the company has got enough expertise. Then this shows that it has stable flow of works, adjusted schedule of development process, and enough staff to perform it, so if you commit your web site design to the company you can be sure that the work won't be for them like a bolt from the blue or well-paid but not feasible overloading.

3) Type of works

Look attentively at each work in the portfolio. How many projects are similar to the one you need by type of site, technology used, industry, and look and feel?
At least 2-3? Good!
More than 5? Excellent!!
None? There can be a reason for this - owner didn't want to make it published, or web site is no more live - so if all other works show professionalism and expertise, you should ask the
company if they have ever done the task you need.

If you need any particular technology to be used for your web site implementation it's more than necessary to see examples how the web design company worked with it. However sometimes it happens if the technology is not common used and very popular that the web design company hasn't had chance to work with it for commercial purpose but it might be used for internal projects development, so you will loose nothing if ask the company to show you some examples if they exist.

If you need a web site for exact business, for example dating site or real estate site, it's also better to view such previous works in the portfolio because there are can be specific features and it's better to make sure that the web design company is experienced with them. Also some web design companies make demo packages that also can show you the abilities and experience.

4) Quality of works

Learn carefully each live site (or the ones which are similar to the site you need). How long does it take to load the site home page?
A few seconds? Great, the web designer knows how to optimize images.
A few minutes? It's normal if this is a Flash site because usually the whole site is loaded at one time, not only the home page; or it's a Flash intro which goes ahead entering the site
and also can load longer because of movie and sound.

But if a simple HTML web site loads more than 2-3 minutes and you can't see all images or they are shown partially, you must be watchful. Check another HTML sites from the portfolio - if they are also loading for ages, it's better to search for another web design company because this one is not professional.

All of the aforesaid is correct only if bandwidth of your Internet connection is normal and usually you don't have problems with loading web sites.

Test the site for user-friendly navigation, pay attention to colors combination, and estimate general impression from the site - all this must reflect professional work. But sometimes a web design company is forced to design a site strictly according to the customer's wishes, so if the customer lacks for good taste the site also looks tasteless. There can one or two such sites in the portfolio, but not all!

5) Happy owners

Web design business is a highly competitive area and as in any business there are honest and dishonest players. Sometimes it happens that you see the same site in portfolio of two different web design companies and it's difficult to find the truth to which of them the work really belongs. Some quirky companies place cheap templates in their portfolio with fake owners' contact info.

That's why it's very important to know real references of real owners of the web sites the web design company has made. Ideally this info must be accessible on the web design company site under Portfolio, Testimonials, or Clients sections. Try to contact ALL of the persons listed there and compare their opinions. You may get to know some interesting facts.

6) Own site of web design company

And finally compare the own site of the web design company to web sites presented in its portfolio. Are they similar by quality, technology used, and overall feeling? If the works from the portfolio look much poorer than the own site this can mean that the own site was ordered from another web design company, more professional. Yes, it happens sometimes in web design business that start-up amateur company commits its web site design to "older" professionals. In such case you better to continue searching for another web design company.

So these 6 rules can help you to make the right choice. Don't be afraid to spend longer time for search and analysis, finally you will only benefit by getting perfect web site that will give new prospects to your business and make it more successful.

The Five Basic Elements of Web Design

The basic elements and principles involved in web design are true for all other types of design. These principles will show you the most effective way to put together the various design elements to come up with a good and effective site. A good company emphasizes the fact that web design is not simply about slapping all those HTML tags on the page, but it involves the use of principles to build a pleasing and useful design. Your company will need you to make the most aesthetically attractive and effective web design, so make sure you keep these elements in mind:

Balance:

Web design Balance is the equal distribution of the heavy and light elements on a singly page. Balance in your web design is concentrated in your page layout. You must achieve visual balance in your web design all throughout the page, not only in the initial view. You web design company might commonly suggest you to center the text and all the other elements on your page. It is also very common to set your page on an invisible grid system to create the balance that you need. There are three types of balance that can be achieved when designing a page.

  • Symmetrical. This is achieved by placing all the elements in an even fashion - a heavy element on the left is matched with another on the right. Be careful with symmetrical balances as you do not want your site to look flat or plain boring.
  • Asymmetrical. These are more challenging to build, but there are strategies to achieve this which can include the varying texture, color and image positioning and size to arrive at a pleasant looking page.
  • Discordant. Symmetrical. Web sites that are off-balance suggest action or motion, so you can create a discordant design on purpose. This type of designs make viewers uncomfortable or uneasy, so they are best used for sites that are intended to make people think.

Contrast:

Web design contrast is more than just about colors and black or white, but also involves contrasting shapes, sizes and even textures. You can take full advantage of contrast by changing font size, weight and family to provide textual contrast and varying sizes of images and elements. However, be careful not to blast your readers or scare them off with contrasting colors which are way too loud. The links on your content should be contrasted well to draw most attention.

Emphasis:

Web design emphasis involves the main points where the eye is drawn into in a design. One of the mistakes that your web design company may warn you not to make is to have everything in the design stand out. Keep in mind that if everything in the design has equal emphasis, the entire page will tend to appear too busy for comfort and may end up unappealing. What you should focus on instead is to create a visual hierarchy in the web design - to put emphasis only on the right elements. You can use semantic markup to provide emphasis even without the use of styles; change the font size of image size in order to emphasis or lessen emphasis on them; or you can use contrast in colors for added emphasis.

Rhythm:

Web design rhythm, also known as repetition, brings the much needed internal consistency into your web site designs. Almost all elements in your design can be repeated in order to create pleasing rhythm into your design. For instance, you can repeat your headline a few times for more emphasis, repeat the same image across the page, create a background that is tiled and patterned with repetitive elements, or repeat a particular style to provide site design consistency. It is also a good idea to repeat the navigation elements in your site design across the pages of your web site.

Unity:

Web design unity, also regarded as a site's proximity, is the what keeps all the similar elements in the site alike and those diverse further apart, and pulls everything together into one integrated whole. Unity when it comes to web site design is mainly achieved through the proper placement in your layout. You can implement this in many ways. You can, for example, adjust the layout of your elements to put them close or far away from each other. In the body of your page, you can change the spacing around the text in your page contents. You can further achieve unity by playing around the box properties and change the margins and paddings.

A good web design company keeps in mind all the basic design elements with each and every page they design and collaborate with. This way, you and your web design company will come up with web sites that are pleasant looking, effective and attractive. As the web designer, it is important that you keep these elements in mind and apply them appropriately to your page web design.

How to Find the Right Web Design Company?

"A man's errors are his portals of discovery."

What does the above quotation convey? To have a portal, you have to commit mistakes. Isn't that funny? No, not at all. It may be a motivating sentence, but in business it can turn out to be doomsday for small start-ups with little investments. This article has been done especially for small start-ups who want to make it in their respective fields and are planning to launch their website or looking for a facelift or adding new functionalities to there existing site or aren't sure about their design requirements.

Choosing a Web Design Company

With a multitude of web designers and developers out there, from freelancers, to agencies, to online templates, how do you know what the right fit is for your company, and more importantly, for your goals and objectives? Choosing a web design company is not that a serious job. But choosing a good web design company is a real serious challenge. People say that Internet has made business processes simple and global, but how about the complexities that Internet offers which are unique. Just Search for the term "Good Web Design Firm" on Google, and it comes up with millions of results. For normal human being it's impossible to search through every result. We will go through the entire process of selecting a Web Design and Development company in a structured way.

STEP 1 - Planning

The first step involves defining your needs. While searching for the right web designer, it is important to have a clear idea what role your new Web site or a redesigned one will fill. Will it provide information to your customers? Will it serve the needs of your employees? Or will it include an online shopping section so that you can sell your products to visitors? Most Web designers will need to know the following:

o The role of your new Web site.

o The intended market or audience of your Web site.

o Your budget.

Take time to consider what you expect from your Web site and the type of information you want to communicate to your potential clients before you approach your designer. This will save you and the designer a considerable amount of time and effort.

STEP 2 - Searching and Creating a Primary list

Searching is a vigorous process and does not require any special skill other than diligence to effectively come up with good results that fulfill your requirements. Just scan through directories, check Google listings on specific key word searches and ask for referrals from your friends or business partners. It does not have to be a very extensive research work.

Referral: Ask business acquaintances, friends, and family which web design firm designed the website for their respective organizations, or if they can otherwise recommend a web design firm.

Web sites: Determine the web design firm that is responsible for the websites of organizations that you admire. These organizations may be your competitors, or in related or unrelated industries. Sometimes the web design firm is included in the site credits, or is listed elsewhere on the website. If you cannot find the credits on the site itself, feel free to contact the organization and ask which web design firm is responsible for the website. This can also be a good source for references for that web design firm.

STEP 3 - Evaluating and Short listing

Once you have gathered a list of potential web design firms you are ready to pare them down to a shortlist. This requires a bit of research work.

o Portfolio - It's about the three C's - Credibility, Consistency and Capability. How consistent they are? What are the parameters on which the company is capable enough to fulfill your requirement? Are there any testimonials that speak about their credibility? Do the projects in the portfolio have a consistent quality? Have they consistently given good results in the given time frame? Has the Web design company provided solutions to other companies in your industry? Have they dealt with similar challenges to those faced by your organization? These are some important factors to consider. When you've narrowed your search to a few design sources (through recommendations, web directories, or your competitors' sites), evaluate their online portfolios and their rate structure. A web site doesn't have to be flashy or animated to do its job. Browse sites they have built, check ease of navigation, organization of information, overall cleanliness and visitor-friendliness. Also, consider hiring a firm that demonstrates some familiarity with your type of business. Just go through the success stories/case studies that have been made available on their web site and corroborate the credentials through references if possible.

o Experience and Fees - This is called the EF of web design firm. Experience and fees are very much inter-related. The general norm is the more experienced you are, the more you are paid. This interesting story can tell you what experience is all about.

Once upon a time there was a steam generating plant that was not producing much steam. After a frustrating search for the cause, the plant manager, in desperation, called in an expert. After only two hours on site, the expert found the problem and placed "X's" on two pipes that were causing the problem, saying that they had to be removed. When presented with the bill, the plant manager asked the consultant how he could charge $5,000.00 for only two hours of work. When he asked for an itemized bill, this is what he got:

1. $400.00 - Placing "X's" on two pipes.

2. $4,600.00 - Knowing where to place the "X's".

The plant manager got what he paid for and probably a lot more. He had already used up more than that amount on his own staff not to mention the loss in revenue while the plant was shut down. For him, securing the advisory services of a consultant was the right thing to do.

It matters a lot if the company has a good experience in diverse business domains and has professionals and specialists from variegated backgrounds. As such they will have an understanding of different business verticals that may be an advantageous point for your website. Another important factor is budget. What you pay is what you get - WYPIWYG. Never compromise with the quality of your website just for saving few quick bucks. In the long run you will end up on a losing side. Have you ever imagined why American diamonds cost less and than real diamonds when at times it's difficult to differentiate between the two? It's obvious - the brilliance and hardness of diamond. This makes another interesting point, you can get a cosmetic surgery done for your website for a lesser cost, but it will lack the functionalities and effectiveness. It can draw visitors but can not turn them into business. So when you pay for something, you definitely get a good deal in return.

o Technology - What is their technological competence? Does this match with your requirement? How many projects they have worked on using the same? How frequently their technology is upgraded- both in terms of software and hardware?

o Deadlines - Has the company carried out the projects in stipulated time? Time is one of the most important factors as the longer it takes, the higher the input costs get. Some companies may offer you a shorter time period and may be ready with the design. But after that starts the long and torrid journey of finding and fixing bugs which may turn your visitors off.

o Responsiveness - How promptly the company responds to your queries? Does it listen to your queries? Are they responsive to my suggestions and questions? Do they explain issues in ways you can understand? Do they share your general vision for the site? Are they interested in Return on Investment for the web site? Do they possess the skills necessary to achieve your goals?

o Communication Process - Poor communication is one of the major bottlenecks for business processes. Ensure that the company with which you are working is comfortable with your language. Generally, English (US/UK) is taken as the preferred language to communicate with each other. What are the tools and technologies they use for communicating? How will they keep you updated with the developments with regards your project? These are some of the important factors that should be kept in mind while deciding about the communication process while choosing a Web Design partner.

o Services - What are the other services that company can offer other than designing? What kind of value-added products or services can the design firm offer?

All these points will help you to narrow down to the list of companies that may offer you viable solutions and help your cause. The next step involves inviting proposals from the short listed parties. Just check through as many cross references that you find justifiable or will satisfy your curiosity. The more time you will invest in this phase, the sweeter will be the returns afterwards.

STEP 4- Proposals

Once you have selected your short-list of top web development firms, request that they send you a proposal. Ask that their proposal include an overview of your requirements and their proposed solution. This will help to determine which web design firm understands your requirements best. Also ask that each web design firm include a description of their development process and a price breakdown for the various aspects of the website project.

STEP 5 - Evaluating Proposals

Evaluate each proposal individually on the basis of merit. Take the following points into consideration:

a) Wellness of the proposal.

b) Respective strength and weaknesses of the companies.

c) Evaluate the presentation and format style.

STEP 6 - Selecting the Company

After your organization has reviewed all proposals, compare them with each other. How do they fare in terms of presentation? How do their processes appear in terms of project management? Do they present scalability and/or upgrade paths for your project, which go beyond the needs of the immediate goals outlined?

After going through all the above process, you should be able to zero in on to a particular company. If the doubt persists, establish communication process between the likely companies to understand their process and commitments.

[NOTE: Avoid selecting an individual designer, on a freelance basis, to design and develop your organization's Web site. It is rare to find a single person capable of handling the combined visual and technical elements that make an effective Web presence. Additionally, by depending on an individual, your organization is at risk of losing its investment should anything occur to that one individual - or down the road they simply can't find time to help when you need it.]

Don't Get Burned By Web Designers

If you bring up the subject of web design with small business people, it wouldn't take long to find someone who has been burned by a web designer. Perhaps they have even come to the conclusion that a web site is not worth the expense. Let's look at how and why that happens, and outline some success principles that will help you when you need web design services. Since so many web designers get it wrong, the web design principles that actually work may surprise you.

One of the problems with web design is that software programs have made it seem easy to create a web site. If you have the software, it would not take you long to build a web site. There are an abundance of inexpensive templates available to make it even easier to put together a web site. Getting a professional looking web site is not difficult at all. So you may wonder, why is that a problem?

The process of creating a web site does not end with making it look professional. In fact, that could very well be one of the least important aspects of a web site design. Let's face it, there are ugly web sites that make a lot of money. Since life is not fair, there are great looking web sites that make little or no money. I'm not saying the professionalism of your web site is not important; I am saying it's not enough.

There is a serious flaw in the web design industry, and small business owners are especially prone to fall victim to it. The problem is that usually, very little business planning goes into a web site design. Too many web designers are more concerned with selling web design than taking the time to build an effective web site.

This deficiency stems from the fact that very few web designers are marketing people. Small business people do not have big advertising budgets, so they are easily attracted to the low rates of average web designers. Good marketing means setting priorities and effectively using your resources to accomplish goals.

The one element I find seriously missing in web design is the very thing that is fundamentally important; that element is uniqueness. A Unique Selling Point (USP) is one of the basic tenets of marketing. You must answer the questions: why should I buy from you, and, what makes you different from my other choices? If you fail in this area, your web site visitor will not be kind to you. They will leave and not come back; they will probably not tell you why they left either.

Read your web site copy to see if it contains another common error. Does it say, "We this," and, "We that?" Do not "we" on your web site visitors! Your web site copy should speak to the visitor, address their needs, and solve their problem. It must compel them in some way. You need to draw them in and sell them on your solution.

When you take notice of how many web sites violate these basic marketing principles above, you will begin to see how you have the opportunity to rise above your competitors. Just think, if the majority of business web sites are violating even these most basic principles, how much more could you benefit from hiring a web designer who understands marketing?

There is a lot of emphasis placed on search engine optimization (SEO), and there should be, because this is very important if you want to have your web site found by people using the search engines. For most web sites, search engines account for 80% to 95% of all visitors. However, as important as SEO is, if you have a web site that is not creating sales with the visitors you are already getting, SEO is the wrong priority.

The next principle is the one you will probably find the most surprising. People actually read web sites! Yes, they do have a short attention span, and we will look at that point next, but they do read. There have been many studies done to document the way people use web pages. Even though so much attention is given to graphics, the studies show that well over 75% of the time, web page users read the text before they notice graphics.

This does not mean that graphics are unimportant. Visual elements are one of the many advantages a web site can provide. When you consider that people use the Internet to seek information, then it does makes sense that they will read your web site's content. Providing the right information can mean the difference between winning a customer, or surrendering them to your competition.

I also promised to cover the short attention span issue. It is often called the 3 second rule. According to web studies, if you cannot capture the attention of your visitor in approximately 3 seconds, that's how fast they usually leave your web site. I suspect the reason is because so many web sites are such a horrible waste of time, that people's patience has been worn down. The solution is to have a fast loading page that quickly clues them in that you can solve their problem. If they can "skim" in a few seconds, and you grab their attention, you have successfully drawn them in so they will stay a while.

Statistically, it takes 7 visits before you make a sale. If your web site is not done correctly, you will have dismal results because you can't get them to come back seven times. That is why so many web site owners are disappointed with their success. That is why some web designers provide what seems to be a bargain, while other web designers have to charge more to give you a better value. It takes more time to plan and create a good web site design.

The good news is that most of your competitors will go for the bargain and suffer the same fate as everyone else who does not realize the value of an effective web site design. Very few of them will invest the resources needed for success. If you do, you can win. This does not mean you need the big budget of a major corporation, or that it has to be expensive, it just means you need to be willing to do better than average. The rewards are much greater when you stretch beyond the norm.

Graphical Updates Of Web Designs

Web design is creation of designs in the web pages of the web site. Web design constitutes more innovated and technical aspects with huge information. Web designs are the process of modeling, designing, structuring and executing the aspects which are suitable for the web site. Web designs may comes up with collections of more designs as per the ideas and plans to make the web site with more new web designs. Web designs include contents, files, tags, update pages, graphics and so on. Generally web designs comprises of innovated and graphical techniques as well as they are created to become easy approachable to the web searchers and it is done using wide understandable techniques.

Generally, web site comprises of web designs and web designs forms major part of the web site. Today, in this competitive world web design fetches more demand and it comes through all over the world. Nowadays, most of the people started knowing the need of the web design and started utilizing it. Hardly web designs become more important and essential for every web masters who handles web sites. Web designs provides well designed and graphical web site to the web searchers and also for the web masters. Web designs are done by the web designers and if they design the web completely, then it can be said that the web site fetches more offers from the customers as well as more response among the web searchers.

Nowadays, most of the web designers are capable of offering efficient technical and graphical web designs to the web sites. To make the web design effective and efficient, then the web master should provide and use some techniques and tips for it. Generally an efficient web design comes up with good presentation of graphics and designs. To make it efficient, professional web site designer's help can be taken and they are the one who can provides efficient web designs to the users. Generally, web designs constitute text, graphics, designs and images. Web masters designs web sites to increase the traffic, rankings and links in the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Msn.

Web designs can be made using efficient web designers and he may use more application such as CSS, HTML and many other kinds of languages. Every web designs made by the web designer should be compact and the web design created should be structured has it is easy approachable and easily understandable to the web searchers. When proper web designing is done for the web site, then the particular web site fetches more demand among the web searchers as well as the web designers come up with more popularity among the people.

Finding a Good Web Designer

The Internet is more popular than ever and any business that is not online is losing out to its competitors. With many businesses and individuals now being aware of the tremendous power of the Internet, it has become very important for them to find a suitable web designer to carry out their project.

Unfortunately, the success of the Internet has also given the opportunity for unqualified and unprofessional web designers to market their services making it very difficult for clients to determine to best web designer for them. If your web site is made by a bad web designer, it can have a detrimental effect on your business and cost you dearly!

What Makes a Bad Web Designer?

Bad web designers are everywhere and they are able to dupe clients into giving them their business because most clients don't know the difference between a good designer and a bad one. Even directories of 'approved' web designers found on the Internet return nothing but incompetent web design 'wannabies' whom given half the chance will provide you with a website that will make your competitors very happy indeed. Here are the main things that indicate a bad web designer:

  • Lots of animated gifs on their pages
  • Overuse of Flash and JavaScript
  • Unflattering/ clashing colours
  • Badly written content
  • A table based layout
  • Shoddy graphics
  • No mention of web standards or accessibility
  • A website that does not validate at http://validator.w3.org

What Makes a Good Designer?

Now you know the danger signs when you're looking at the website of a designer you are considering. Here is a list of factors that indicate the designer may be worthy of you time:

  • A well chosen, attractive colour scheme
  • A clean, crisp, easy to navigate layout
  • A CSS based layout
  • Mentioning web standards and accessibility
  • Well written, clear and concise content
  • A web site that validates at http://validator.w3.org

As well as the factors listed here, the designer should maintain good communication with the client at all times. They should treat the project as if it is their own and endeavour to surpass all of the client's expectations.

Where Can I Find a Good Web Designer?

One of the best ways to find a designer is to look on the major Internet search engines such as Google or MSN. However, be careful because the results supplied by these search engines will list hundreds of thousands of results and finding a really good designer amongst them could be difficult. Click through some of the results that sound suitable and subject them to the criteria already mentioned above.

There are numerous directories on the Internet that contain links to web design companies. Some of these directories claim to only link to 'approved' web designers, but don't be fooled into hiring a web designer from one of these directories. In reality almost any site can be included into these directories and inclusion does not mean the designers are reputable or reliable. There are probably many good designers in these directories but finding them amongst the list of bad ones could take some time! Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but be aware that inclusion into to most directories means little.

One thing to take into account when hiring a web designer is location. Due to the nature of the Internet you could hire a web designer anywhere in the world but keep in mind that if there are any problems you may wish to meet face to face. However, if you find a designer you are sure is suitable for you and they are located in another country don't be afraid to give them a try.

A final word of warning about choosing a web designer; beware of hiring a web designer just because a friend or acquaintance has recommended them. By all means check their website and see what you think but just because your friend is happy does not mean they have a good website. Your friend could be blissfully unaware of the damage being caused by their badly designed website.

How Do You Become a Web Designer? Do You Have What It Takes?

Web design can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. It's a trade that combines technical skills with creative ability. If you feel comfortable with computer technology and you enjoy creating documents, web design can be a great way to combine the two interests.

That being said, it's always overwhelming to consider learning a new skill. Before learning how to become a web designer, you should ask yourself, "Should I become a web designer?"

I've been learning web design since I was ten years old, in 1994. I now do a lot of web design for myself and for some small business clients. There have been plenty of pleasures, but also plenty of frustrations. If you're considering becoming a web designer, there are some things you should keep in mind.

If you have a lot of time to devote to learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Photoshop, it's possible to learn the basics in a couple of months. Be ready to spend some money on manuals, books, and applications.

No matter how you decide to learn web design and how you decide to enter the field, some people have better potential to become web designers than others.
When you're programming, even if you're using a simple language like HTML and using a helpful application like Dreamweaver, you're going to encounter some frustrations. Sometimes, when I create an HTML document, I spend a lot more time making corrections and problem solving than doing fun stuff. Are you prepared to spend a lot of time testing and making little changes? No matter how you approach web design, tedium can't be completely avoided. If you're easily frustrated and discouraged, web design might not be for you.

Unless web design is going to be just a hobby for you, you will have clients you have to work with. Sometimes clients have a lot of specific expectations. Some clients have experience with web design themselves, but others may demand things without knowing the technical limitations involved. Before you start any project for clients, it's best to have a thorough conversation with them about what they want and what they need. That can save you a lot of time. How would you like to spend weeks developing a website, only to discover that your client wants completely different fonts, colors, graphics, site organization and content? If you're going to get into designing web pages for other people, you're going to have to be ready to make a lot of compromises and take a lot of criticism. Are you ready for that?

Finally, ask yourself if you have the time and energy to promote yourself. If you want to be hired by a web design firm, in addition to learning skills and possibly obtaining certifications, you've also got to be ready to pound the pavement with your resume and portfolio. It might take you over a year to find a job. Be ready to attend a lot of job interviews, and possibly get a lot of rejections.

If you're going to become a freelancer, like I am, you've really got to devote a lot of energy to self-promotion. Set up a website, preferably with your own domain. Be ready to spend some money on advertising. Spend a lot of time promoting your services with social media - Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, and so on. Scan classified ads, particularly online classifieds. Print business cards and distribute them wherever you can. Use your connections and word-of-mouth to your advantage. Tell everyone you know that you're a web designer, and maybe someone knows someone who could be your first client. Sometimes I spend more time promoting myself than I do actually doing the work itself.

If you're ready to spend a little bit of money, do a lot of tedious work, take some criticism, and do a lot of self-promotion, then web design may be the field for you.

First, you've got to start the learning process. If you enjoy classroom instruction and having teachers, sign up for some web design and graphic design courses through your local community college. If you'd rather start learning on your own, buy some good books, look at the source codes of the web pages you visit, and go through some online tutorials. Even if you're going to start learning web design in a school setting, be prepared to do a lot of learning in your free time, as well.

It's important to learn HTML, especially HTML5. Learn Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), up to CSS3. JavaScript, possibly some server side scripting languages, and Flash are very useful, too. Don't forget to learn how to use Photoshop. If you don't have the money to buy Photoshop right away, start by downloading some free graphic design programs like Paint.Net and GIMP. You can learn some of the basics of graphic design that way, and possibly be better prepared when you finally buy the most recent version of Photoshop.

These days, people access the web in more ways than were ever possible before. When you're web designing, you not only want to make your web pages work in multiple browsers, but also on multiple devices. Even basic cell phones can access the web today, not just smart phones such as BlackBerrys and iPhones. Even some video game playing devices like the Sony PSP and Nintendo DSi have web browsers. Web surfers could be using tiny screens or enormous screens. They could be using a variety of different browsers and versions of browsers. Users may have completely different plug-ins and fonts; Adobe Flash is a browser plug-in, for instance. When you're learning web design, try surfing the web in as many ways as you can.

There are many helpful resources for learning web design online, and there are many helpful online tools for web designers, many of which I use.

The W3C is an excellent place to start. They're the non-profit organization founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the man who started the World Wide Web. The W3C sets standards for HTML, XML and CSS. In addition to information about coding languages and standards, they have handy tools to validate your code.

HTML Goodies has a lot of excellent tutorials and articles.

I've learned a lot so far, but I'm always learning more, and I'll always be a student of web design and media technology. As technology advances, things change. There'll always be new programming languages and applications. Learning is a constant process.

Web design has been an engaging experience for me, and if you decide to get into it yourself, I hope you take it seriously and have a lot of fun.

Qualifications To Become A Web Designer

To become a web designer in the UK you don't really need any formal qualifications by law in order to set up on your own and start designing websites for clients. This is both a blessing and a curse to professionals wishing to work in the web design industry. On one hand it makes it very easy for professionally skilled individuals to join a rewarding and potentially very lucrative industry. On the other hand the industry is given a bad name, confused and cheapened by cowboy web designers, who enter the industry without adequate qualifications, skills and experience.

This article outlines the qualification that you will realistically need in order to embark on a career in web design and obtain a role with a UK web design company.

Qualifications Needed:

First of all, to become a web designer one of the pre-requisite qualifications in the UK is to be higher educated. This means a minimum of a Higher National diploma (HND) in a computer or media related subject or better still, a degree from a red-brick university. I personally hold a first class honours degree (BSc) in computer science from the University of Sunderland, which I am certain allowed to get me a foot in the door of one of the leading web design companies in the Yorkshire area. Studying for such qualifications allows you to develop an awareness of the industry and allows a lot of time for self learning of software skills and web design techniques, which are critical for a career as a web designer.

Skills Needed:

Some (but not all) of the skills which you will need in order to become a web designer are:

HTML

CSS

Photoshop

SQL

ASP / PHP

Macromedia Development Packages

Flash

Of course the skills that you need will vary depending on the area of web design that you intend to pursue. Graphically oriented web designers will need strong graphic design skills such as adobe photoshop, fireworks and flash. Web Designer that are more coding oriented will need a strong command of the following skills: HTML, CSS, SQL and ASP or PHP. The latter are usually referred to as web developers rather than web designers.

Getting All Important Web Design Experience:

The time taken to achieve competence in web design technologies in my opinion is 3 years this can be coupled with the time it takes to study for a degree at a UK university. Of course formal qualifications are only a small piece of the puzzle. It is the experience gained from your first web design job that you will find most valuable.

From my own experience, I learned more from my first 6 months working in the web design industry than I did during my 3 years at university. There really is no substitute for the experience of working with a professional web design company and being able to ask experienced web designers for help and advice.

Developing A Specialism:

Over time it is definitely worth developing a web design specialism. For me it was the development of search engine optimised website. It was that particular area of web design that took my interest and the area in which I have excelled as a website designer. Becoming a specialist in a particular area will really raise your stock and will allow you to become and expert in your own particular niche.

What You Should Know About Web Design and Hosting

I recently received a call from a business in the Healing & Health industry. This person asked her web design guru for a simple addition to her web page. He refused to do it and told her to log in and do it herself! When she decided to give the web design work to me to do, he deleted her entire web site and database! Are you ever the true "owner" of a web site that you paid money to own? The people that you as a business owner trust with your entire online business, are these people worth of your trust? Your business is the one way of serving online clients, are the people behind it worthy of your trust? It is no joke to lose a web site that existed for the past 6 years and the database with all your client contact details and the people you resell to monthly!

How can business owners protect their web sites and online assets? Web designers should make a full backup copy available to every site owner on request; right after the web design is complete and online. As the web design progress, a new backup copy should be available to you. Content managed web sites or the so-called Database websites, the actual database and a backup of your normal web design should be available to you. Ask your web design person up front, even before you choose a particular designer, if the source code and web design files would be available to you.

Graphics and content for your web site
If you as a business owner pay a person to design graphics and write up content for your web site, you are entitled to this content and in reality the owner of it. Web design Tip: Your web graphics are utilized on letterheads and business stationary - why pay another graphic designer for this - insist on the content that is rightfully yours. You own them because you paid for them.

Let us look at domain hosting.
I have also come across very suspect hosting companies. Some hosting companies physically disable the standard functions in the control panel of their server, so the owner of a web site cannot log in and create web site backups! Why would they do that? Yes there are space limitations on any hosting server, however why would one keep a backup on the same server? Should the hosting server ever have a problem it would only make sense to have your web design backed up elsewhere.

Let us look at Server Reliability.
Some hosting companies look very promising up front. The smaller company that is just entering the wild world of online advertising may find nothing wrong with his hosting company. Now it gets to a point where the business would like to start selling online and promote his services through having an online blog and a bigger better web site is required. Therefore, he pays the regular web design person to do the web design and host it where it was all the time... The business and site gains hacker attention and is down three out of five days! Make very sure your server is secure. If you have to, get your web design done and host it on a server for a probation period. If you are not happy, use your backup copy of your web design and get a reputable hosting company to move the web site for you.

Always think of the future
It is very unpleasant and unprofessional to have online clients get to your business web site and it is offline. Error pages drive visitors away and 90% of them will not return as they start to fear that your web site is not trustworthy to open on their computers. Everybody by now knows that often we get lead to suspicious web sites through e-mails. I personally recommend rather paying a little more for a lot more in future by hosting with a reputable company.
Support Does the hosting and web design company provide you with a phone number so that you can call them when you have a problem? Do you have to talk to a server through e-mail with hardly any human intervention? I have found that when hosting companies provide you with a phone number to talk to a real person, they more then likely have the structure in place to provide you the excellent service that you need for something as important as your business web site.

The Importance Of Getting The Best Web Design Team Involved In The Project

It is quite often said that the first rule of web design is you do not talk about web design.

If traditional graphic design is 2--"dimensional, Web design is 4 or 5--"dimensional. Web design is a complex process that requires a wide range of creative, business and technical skills. Most web designers worth their salt know the phrase web design is a laughably broad term.

I mention the above not to try and put people off either entering into the Industry or trying to do down those who are already in the industry but more as re statement of facts about the state of web design today.

The problem that has arisen in the last few years is such that it would appear to be very easy to become a web designer. Hey it's cool and it sounds great at parties. It would seem as a result that almost very man and his dog is now into web design. You could take this argument and lay the blame for this fairly and squarely at the doors of the like of Macromedia and Microsoft for making such easy WYSIWYG web design programmes such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage for people to take up and master. But this would be too simplistic and not realistic.

Web design is a complex process that requires a wide range of creative, business and technical skills. Most web designers worth their salt know the phrase web design is a laughably broad term and it requires an ability to see things from as many a side as possible - multi tasking in the extreme.

They say its what's inside page design that really counts and nothing rings truer where web design is concerned. Web design is a complex discipline that involves a wide range of skills. Of course content is king, the purpose of web design is to present it in the best way possible. When was the last time you saw a new book release from the likes of Amazon etc with a lousy cover and so it is with web design? For the millions of web surfers out there, your web design is their first impression of your business and your credibility.

Good web design is a collaborative process. Every new web design is the solution to a design problem that can be summed up in a series of constraint questions: Who is my audience? What is the audience dynamic and more importantly what do I want my audience to do? Do I want them to read, enjoy, think leisurely and then buy my services or do I just want them to hit the chequebook as soon as is possible?

Web design is a constantly evolving dimension of marketing and it is a field that is crowded and competitive. A Kickass Web Design is Search Engine friendly, effective and affordable but remember the goal of Web design is not merely to dazzle, but to deliver information to the widest audience possible.

Lastly one of the most important rules in web design is that your web site should be easy to read. Web Design is not about decoration - it's about how the web works.

Freelance Web Designer Vs Web Design Company

Many of these clients initially hired web designers offering terrific prices that were irresistible. These web designers are found on such web sites as scriptlance.com, elance.com, freelancedesigners.com, contractedwork.com, getafreelancer.com, allfreelancework.com and hundreds more. They offer a meeting place where businesses post projects and freelancers bid on them. It's a nice way to save a buck, but remember, you get what you pay for.

Also stay away from web site template systems. Avoid that fish-hook. Again, you get what you pay for.

Disappointed
One of our clients thoroughly reviewed a freelancer's work and decided to hire him for the company's web site redesign. According to the client, no matter how hard the freelancer tried, he just couldn't capture the creative vision the company wanted projected. The freelancer was also slow to respond to design revisions, further frustrating and disappointing the client.

Freelance = Part-time
Don't forget that freelance is another word for part-timer. This is usually a college student or a designer who already has a full-time job. If the freelancer fails to deliver on promised expectations then it's no skin off his or her back and you're left holding the bag.

When choosing a web designer to develop your web site, which will be your storefront to the world, ask yourself a few questions.

- Does a part-timer have the same breadth of experience as a full-time web designer who works on a multitude of different websites from month to month?

- Does a part-timer have the time to stay on top of the latest news and changes regarding search engines and search engine optimization? (This helps to determine your ranking and website listings in search engines.)

- Does the freelancer have the need to protect his or her business reputation with the same vigilance shown by businesses?

- Does a part-timer have the resources to hire additional designers or programmers for your project?

- Will the freelancer be around next year to help you with questions or concerns regarding your web site?

Making the Smart Choice
You may pay a little more to have a web design company develop your web site, but in the end a professional company will deliver on what they promise, most often exceeding your expectations.

Every client that has come to us has had similar experiences. Most of them did not like the design, or the front-end of the database looked elementary. Professional design permeates all aspects of a web project -- web site pages, logo, layout, text positioning, database display and administrative display.

Making the Final Decision
Now that you've been educated about web designers, jump on Google and check out web design companies in your state. Make a bulleted laundry list of what you're looking for. Include links to web sites that you like. For example, here's a simple bulleted list you might submit for an RFP (Request for Proposal):

Looking for a web site for my widget business I would like to have the following pages and functions:

Pages to include About Us, Testimonials, Contact Us, Map, Products, Refer a Friend.
* For products page I would like to have an image gallery with pop-ups
* Include a cost option for Pay Pal e-commerce
* Include a cost option for professional e-commerce like LL. Bean or similar store.

Check Company References
Most companies include a list of references in their RFP's. We include up to 15 in our current RFP's. You might even try contacting business owners by looking at the information sections of web sites that the web site design company has posted in their portfolio. Listen to what people have to say about the company. When you've collected 2 or 3 RFP's, you're ready to commit to a decision.

Most likely your decision will be based on your phone conversations and the responsiveness of the design companies you're considering.