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Things to look for when hiring a website designer:  

Know what you need. There are numerous questions to ask of yourself. How will you use your website? Many people use theirs as the main link to your company. Others use their site as a complement: You’ve met me, now check out my site. How many pages do you want on your site? What will each page say? Do you have any ideas about how you want each page to look?  

 

You’ll also have to decide if you want a smalltime freelance developer or a large firm. There are positives and negatives to each. A larger firm has a large staff with varied skills and a large body of work; however, they charge more and often are more bureaucratic. A smaller firm, or a single freelancer, offers lower prices and better one-on-one communication, but their body or work is usually smaller, and if they have a large backlog of orders, yours will have to wait.  

 

Referrals. If someone you know recommends a developer, check it out. Find out what it was that person liked and see if that developer meets your needs. Don’t let the fact that the developer isn’t local be a stumbling block. The Internet and telephone are wonderful inventions.  

 

 Check out the developer's site. Is it attractive? Easy to navigate? Organized logically? Are there any broken links? How quickly does the site load? Answering these questions will help you decide if you want to use this developer.  

 

Also, look at the portfolio, which are the examples shown on the site. Do you like what you see? What can the developer do? Does he or she only design websites or can they do dynamic development and database design? The best developers know how to create a site, maintain it, market it and promote it. Does this developer do it all?  

 

Thirdly, look for customer testimonials. They often provide clues to contacting them. For example, the person’s full name or company name might be included, giving you an easy way to call or email them to talk about the developer.  

 

Finally, see how easy it is to communicate directly with the developer. The contact information page should make it clear. When you communicate with him or her, make sure it’s not just through emails. You’ll want to talk to the person directly to gauge his or her personality and see if he or she is willing to bounce ideas between you two. Ask as many questions as possible and see if you like the answers. Some questions you should ask are: Who will own the website? Who will maintain it, and at what cost?  


Find the best price
. Many developers don’t post their prices online, but that shouldn’t stop you. Contact them directly, give them a few parameters or specs, and they’ll usually give you and estimate, which you can either accept, refuse or counteroffer. The developer also might reject your counteroffer. You’ll also need to know if a percentage is due up front or how you’ll pay for the project.  

 

Read the fine print. Insist on a contract, for it protects you and the developer.  Things to look for in a contract include deadline guarantees, the developer’s availability, how much more you’ll pay for changes to the project, and whether the developer will take care of programming bugs that you find once the work is done. Another thing to look for is who will own the website, the code it took to write and all related files. It should belong to you, not the developer. Finally, if you’re in a regulated industry, make sure all legal and compliance issues are included.


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