When you start thinking about your own website you’re probably concerned about how it will look, and what tools and pages to use. If you are at a loss on where to begin, let me offer some advice so you can get a better idea of what you’re looking for.
- Websites are built using code, mostly CSS and HTML (but there are many others for all different effects; for clarity, let’s stick with just these two). This is important because you need to know whether you can build and maintain your site by yourself or if you’ll need expert help – so you can budget that as well.
- If you’re doing it yourself and haven’t got much (or any) experience with coding, or haven’t got much time to spend on developing a website, consider using the templates provided by your host; most of them are a simple matter of click and drag – demanding no ability to code whatsoever.
- If your budget and/or time are limited consider using one of the thousands of templates available for download. The most complicated part of the code is ready – you just substitute your own content. The downside is that even though there are massive amounts of templates, there’s little creativity, and your site might end up looking like all the others out there.
- If budget and time aren’t issues hire a web designer. A good professional won’t come cheap, and good work doesn’t simply happen – be prepared. But in the end you’ll have a completely personalised website, made to fit your needs and attractive to your audience.
- If you’re hiring someone don’t just approach them and ask for a website. Have a list of everything you’d like your page to feature, images you’d like to use (including your logo), if you intend to expand your site in the future and who’s performing the maintenance of your site (if you plan to do it yourself you can have a content management system incorporated in the design). In case the designer is also creating images and logos for your company make sure you can use them elsewhere (such as brochures, letterheads, calling cards) – yes, it will increase the price (since you’re buying the rights to use the images), but your business will have a standard image. Having all your needs sorted from the start also enables the agency or the designer to provide you with more precise quotes.
- To make sure you’re dealing with a good and professional web-designing agency there are some things you can do during your conversations with them. The first is to ask for references or a portfolio; they should be able to indicate former customers and, thus, display their work. Check whether the websites answer to the companies’ needs, it’s a sign the designers understood what was being requested and responded satisfactorily; also check for similarities: it can indicate that the agency recycle the same templates over and over.
- Have a set of questions prepared regarding the final product: a good agency or designer should be able to answer anything without hesitation, showing they’re able and prepared to provide you the best service. You should ask about the services provided after the website is launched, how upgrades are handled, whether you’ll host and own the final product, what kinds of testing are carried out, if they support all browsers and operating systems, and how they determine the quotes. Of course there are lots more you can ask, especially if you’re familiar with coding.
I know the subject can be quite extensive and that I have merely scratched the surface, but I do hope these thoughts help your reflection regarding your website. Good luck, and until next time.