Choosing a Web designer

So what is it about web design that you should know prior to choosing a web designer?Your website is full of useful information and you're proud of it. But you've tried to create something that looks attractive as well - but you can't seem to get it together.

 Rave reviews don't come your way and your website is a flop. You want to fix it but you don't have the big budget, you need to hire a great web designer!

Choosing a Web Designer
When you choose a web designer, the ability to work successfully with your web designer is as important as their actual skill in being able to deliver the project.

A web designer that is skilled might be pain to deal with which can make the whole process frustrating and not worth the money being spent, especially if you have an emotional attachment to the project (which you should have, being the one supplying the money and motivation) It is important to choose a web designer with the right skills, but also one you believe you can work with on an ongoing basis. Establish a working relationship between you and your web designer that will benefit both you and your website. This relationship can be worth a large proportion of the contract. 

Consider the following possible pitfalls to be aware of when choosing a web designer:
Look at the type of web design you will be getting for the money you going to spend 

Ensure the money you spend will be the design you desire
What is included? Design, Content, Search Engine Submission, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Graphic Design, Updates? You need to gather different quotes so you can compare them against each other. You also need to quantify some of these things in terms of quantity, hours, numbers search engines submitted to etc. 

What are the ongoing financial commitments?
All websites have financial commitments. Web Hosting, Domain Names and updates are the main three. Make sure you know the total cost of your investment. Some companies offer lower up front costs to trick you into higher ongoing costs that end up costing you more. Some other things are SSL certificate costs, more bandwidth and web space. 

The reliability of services provided
With hosting and email, too much down time can make the whole experience useless in a few months time. You don't want to have to change hosts after six months because your web designer has provided you with a poor host. Some people rely greatly on email and these are the people that need to choose carefully so their business is not affected 

Costs for making future changes on the website
Updates and maintenance on your site need to happen, even if you don't change the content frequently you will eventually change some content so you need to know what it will cost over a year. 

Hidden costs for web design
Make sure common things (like search engine submissions) are either not included or are an extra cost. Certain key things can be excluded to keep the price down. Make sure you get your monies worth for your web design. An important key is if the web designer working part time or full time? Some designers are working during the day and then web designing at night. A lot of designers started out this way, but issues can arise when you need something done and they don't do the job from nine to five.

If all these things measure up then you have found a web designer who you can work with and provide you with a service that will get you your desired result.What is a good web design? How does hiring a professional web designer help?  The best way to answer these questions is to explain why you need a good web designer.To create a professional web site you depend on a professional design. A professional designer, whether they are from a web design company, firm, agency or freelance, needs to be able to display a portfolio of their work. This portfolio should excite you, allowing you to see what your web site can be.

While developing the web design, your chosen designer should:
Understand the business you are in. The web designer should understand this so that they can customise the design toward your business. This can be accomplished by meeting several times with the designer to talk about your requirements and help them to understand your business

Construct an initial design using a graphic tool.
The web designer should create the initial design in a tool like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks or any other decent web design package. This will allow you to view the design and make any desired changes.

Revise the design.
The web designer should be able to work with you through several versions of the design to get it just the way you want it.

Once you are happy with the design, the next step is implementation. If you have chosen a web design company, firm or agency, they will have staff people that can implement your chosen design. If you have hired a freelance web designer, you can always hire a freelance web developer. A professional web developer should be able to take a well developed web design, and turn it into a professional web site. After following this simple plan you should have a professional web site that has been professionally designed to adhere to your specific desires.  

Simple ways to improve your web design

1. Balance still matters  
When users enter a website, their focus first starts at the top left of the page and then slowly move to the right. Contrary to what many people think, the web user is focused more on the text of the page, rather than images or graphics. This is where balance is important. Balance will not only make your page more visually appealing, but it will make your page easier to read and easier to find items. A good layout will help the objects on your page to flow. 

2. Simplicity Counts
Simplify your website up by removing all the unnecessary visual elements. This will allow important items to stand out. Leave some white space on the page. The illusion of space is visually pleasing, as well as easier to navigate. Otherwise, your visitor will feel stressed in an attempt to look at all the information crammed on your screen. Or worse, they'll click exit in a hurry.  

3. Fix your fonts
The size and type of font select will have an effect on how your reader takes in your information. What font should you use? San-serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana are popular choices for on-screen reading. The font size should be no smaller than 10 points and no larger than 14 points. You don't want the reader to be able to read the information from across the room, but you don't want them squinting and leaning closer to the screen either.

4. Clean backgrounds and web design
Be subtle. The background textures and colours chosen have the ability to determine the overall appeal of the website. Lots of texture and graphics in the background can be distracting, and the more texture you add to the background, the less noticeable your text and images become. If you're going to use colour on the background, use colour that will have a significant contrast between the background color and the text. Create a good balance, so the readability of the text is not compromised. You will rarely go wrong with black text on a white background. It's crisp, clean, and easy to read. Be cautious when using darker and brighter colors such as red or yellow. They cause visual fatigue and the reader will lose their focus on the text, therefore compromising your website.        

5. Graphics and webpages
Graphics are often overused on web pages. It is better to not clutter the pages with objects that look cool but serve no purpose other than to increase the download time. 

  • Where you can use graphics to enhance your pages
  • Logo - is your brand recognition and it adds visual appeal to your web pages.
  • Title bars - lets your visitors know which page they are on.
  • Horizontal rules - Graphic lines are often used to separate categories or sections of a webpage.
  • Background images - Are used to add visual appeal or make a website easier to navigate.
  • Photos - Personalize a website and make it inviting.
  • Navigation icons, such as `home' and 'back' enhance a page because they are familiar and users anticipate seeing them.

Incorporating your branding on your web design
Some template sites are hard to unite a logo or colours into them, be aware of template driven website companies as some people are skilled enough to only change the text on a template. Some   web designers design their sites from the ground up integrating all of your design elements in their design. These companies offer the most flexibility.

6. Easy navigation  
Create a toolbar with links that are easy to navigate. Web users often look for the toolbar across the top or down the left hand side of the page. Position the toolbar in an area that is common therefore it will create a sense of familiarity and facilitate the ease of navigation. Don't forget a link to your homepage. It's often forgotten but very important to point your users to your home page. Log in on www.hosting-webdesign.co.za for an example of easy and well structured website navigation.

7. Text readability

  • You have a great transcript, but are you displaying it effectively? Make your pages easy to read by breaking up blocks of text and creating short paragraphs.
  • Consider the key points on each page and create headings and subheadings.
  • Only use one or two fonts. Select one font for your headings and subheadings and another for the body text.
  • Highlight key words and phrases by bolding or using a different colour. Be careful when selecting colours, and only use one colour to emphasise that important element. Some colours, such as yellow and pink, don't stand out well if you've selected a white or black background.   

8. Scrolling
Horizontal scrolling is disorienting and annoying, so if you've got it, lose it. Vertical scrolling is better if you have to have it, but consider moving larger blocks of information to another page and providing links. There is also the risk of missing vital information that falls below the screen if a web user decides not to scroll down to view it. So if you've got to have a scrolling page, try to keep all your important information above the fold.  

9. Make your web design fast and slick
We all get impatient when it takes more than five seconds to connect to a website. Users want to make contact, and make it quick. Ensure that your pages load as quickly as possible. Eliminate unnecessary graphics, especially flash graphics. You need to make an immediate impression so that the web user is enthusiastic about your website, rather than wanting exit as fast as possible.

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