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How to Find a
Good Website Designer

Talented designers abound, but will they do what you need them to do?

On another page (Do-it-Yourself or Hire a Web Designer?) I told my tale of woe with a web designer who refused to do what I wanted done.

Instead, the designer made a site that would appeal to other designers, but that normal users would find difficult to use.

This syndrome is left from the early days of the World Wide Web when every company wanted a website but knew nothing about websites, nor about how their customers might use them. In such a situation, companies were happy to leave everything to web designers.

Not knowing much about the companies or their clients, the designers made sites that were cool and innovative and impressed their designer colleagues. They had no idea whether or not these sites would satisfy normal users.

Things are better now. The more alert designers now consult closely with their clients, working to discover how their businesses work. Website "usability" is now a well-publicized ideal. And those who employ web designers know more about what they want from their websites.

Still, difficulties remain. Many web designers still prefer being on the complicated cutting edge of technology even if their client's needs are simple and a simple, "old-fashioned" site would work better.

Anyone employing a web designer must be pro-active and involved in the work, keeping apace with the design and effectively controlling its direction and progress.

Step 1: Get personal recommendations from others who have used a certain designer.

Step 2: Discuss your site design and get cost estimates from several designers

Step 3: Expect to pay more! Websites are never done. Developing a site is an evolutionary process. The way websites change and adapt is one of their beauties. But get cost estimates based on stages of development, not a "finished website." (There is no such thing.)

Step 4: Learn to do minor updates and changes yourself. Because websites are easily updatable, and because information in your area of expertise may change frequently, you must learn how to update certain bits of information yourself. Your website designer can make it easy for you.

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Tom Brosnahan