Choosing A Web Consultant
Your Internet web site can be a vital tool for your business, but only if properly constructed and designed. To assist you in locating a web designer that shares this view of your project, we've provided the following tips on choosing one that meets your needs. All we ask is that you include AFAB on your list of firms to consider - Contact us, and we'll be glad to address any concerns or questions that you may have.
Check Their Rates
Many web site designers charge an hourly rate, but the total cost can vary depending on the time they will put into your web site. A consultant with low hourly rates may cost more in the long run because they put in far more hours than they predict.
Before you approach a web consultant about your project, you should have a good idea of what it is you wish to present. Your web consultant should be able to meet with you and further discuss your ideas and present some of their own.
You should also know whether you will be providing them with the text, information and graphics to work with or whether you will want to contract them to create these from your suggestions.
Then, ask them to estimate the time involved in your project and their fees. Once you have a strong idea of what the site will look like, you should be able to receive a firm estimate on the total cost of the project. Be careful with this as consultants working on an hourly rate may run up a bill much higher than estimated due to unforeseen problems (or a misleading estimate). You should have limitations in place that will force the consultant to let you know when they are nearing their estimated price so that the costs do not get out of control.
Your best bet is to get a firm quote on the project, therefore, any unforeseen circumstances are the responsibility of the designer (and won't come out of your pocket!).
Check Their Experience
Most good web designers will let you view their portfolio of work or offer you references from their clients. Be sure to look through these to determine if they have the knowledge and experience to achieve the goals that you have set for your project. You should also be able to get a good idea of what they have done and who they have worked with in the past so that you can anticipate what your relationship with them will be like.
Check Their Attitude
Your web site is important to you and it should be important to the web designer. Remember, it is your reputation and image (and sales) that are at risk. If the site does not increase the effectiveness of your operations (sales, promotions, communications, customer service, etc.), then you have wasted your time and money.
Your web consultant should be willing to work directly with you and others within your organization so that your web site suits your company image, goals and objectives. If they plan on just creating the site on their own without your ongoing input and then letting you know when they're finished, find another designer.
Insist On the "Veto Factor"
It is your web site so you must have the option to refuse what they suggest to you. They are the professionals in the medium (you hope), so their ideas will likely be beneficial, however, it is your organization and you know it best so if their suggestions don't match with your objectives, you'll want to be able to instruct them on what needs improving.
Your best bet is to find a designer that you have a good rapport with as there will likely be a great deal of give and take when discussing your project. You'll want to ensure that you are involved in all aspects of the development so ask for the chance to approve each stage of the project. If you're not happy with the suggestions they make, continue working with them until you're both satisfied.
Ask About Ownership of the Site
Once your site is completed, you will want the rights to use all of the images, text and pages contained within it. This is especially important if you decide to terminate your relationship with them in the future. You don't want them to "own" the site and then take the pages with them when they leave so that you have to start again from scratch. Most good designers create the pages on your behalf and you have complete ownership of the site, even if they are no longer involved (this may not include any CGI scripts or special programming that they use on your site - be sure to ask about this possibility).
How Easily Can You Communicate With Them?
With the world-wide scope of the Internet, you may find that the best web consultant is located across the country or on the other side of the world. This is rarely a problem as long as you have an effective way to communicate with them.
While the ability to walk into their offices (or have them visit yours), may seem like the best option, many consultants are available through email, fax and the telephone. This age of international communication allows us to work with organizations worldwide - at our own convenience. Much of the collaboration and many of the discussions you have with your designer may be done using these new tools (and at a cost savings because the time required is often much less than that spent in traveling from office to office).
If your web consultant has at least two of the above mentioned options to contact them (telephone, fax, email, mailing address, web site, etc.) and they respond to your requests in a reasonable amount of time, you should have no problem communicating with them and sending them your information.
What Are Their Other Commitments?
You don't want to contract with a designer that "may get to your project some time next month." If they are too busy to start working on your project, they will likely be too busy to put the needed attention into your site and their response to your questions/input may further delay the completion of the project.
If you will want to continue using their services in the future for ongoing maintenance and marketing, you should ensure that they will be available (and competent in providing these services).
Along with the firm quote mentioned above, try to get an estimate on how long the project will take once they have been supplied with all your company information.
Contact AFAB for a free, no-obligation proposal to determine the costs for your project.