If you’re running any type of business today you probably already know that your website and social media presence, play a big role in the success of your business. It’s become almost impossible to keep-up with all of the latest apps, hashtags and influencers out there.
Besides, you don’t really have the time to keep up with all of this stuff anyway. You’re far too busy keeping up with your customers needs on a day-to-day basis.
You thought you had the website thing down when you got your own SquareSpace or Weebly site a few years back and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, site builders are a great way to get “something up” really quickly (and on a budget), but your business is growing.
It’s way busier now than it was a few years ago and you really just can’t afford to spend too much time trying to “figure out” why your site isn’t pulling it’s weight or how you can update it.
You want to add more custom features and feel that you could be missing out on business because your website isn’t up-to-date. It’s time to take your site to the next level but you’ve still got to keep those expenses in check.
Well at this point you really only have two options. You can either hire a freelance web designer/developer or you can work with a small “boutique” agency. Now I can tell you – even the smallest of agencies will start at around $6,000 a month (on the low side) and closer to $10,000.
This is typically out of reach for the average small business owner, but there is a second option. You could hire a freelance web designer or developer. But how do you know which web designer is right for you? Here are 4 things you should consider:
#1 Hire a Designer Who Focuses on Your Industry or Niche
Now as with any specialist – a designer who focuses on a particular niche will come with a higher price tag, but they shouldn’t be as expensive as a small agency. They typically have a better understanding of your budget and what your specific needs are since your industry is their focus.
Your website should have more customized features, for example, if they’re niche is restaurants your website should have the ability to take reservations right there on the site and not somewhere else.
If the designer is worth their salt, they should be way ahead of you and have clear understanding of what’s happening in your niche, from a technology and digital marketing point of view. They should be able to provide you with a series of custom options for you to consider.
That also means that they either know how to code those custom features or they have someone who they outsource it to (that person is called a web developer).
This is not an unreasonable request, you should not end-up with a basic generic website that could work for any small business. You’re paying for customization and their expertise in your field. If you feel that they are giving you a hard-time about this, don’t waste your time chasing after them – cut your losses and find someone else.
#2 They Should Know How Your Website Will Impact Your Business
A good web designer understands that a website is more than just pretty colors and images. They know it needs to attract customers and convert visitors into sales.
They should be able to “walk” you through their process and address not only your technical needs but how they can make an impact on your business.
But they also should know that they can’t do this alone and should be able to help you find the resources you need to maintain your site long after they’re gone.
This will include not only technology pros, but copywriters, photographers, print shops, videographers, social media managers. These are some of the things that you’ll need to help you maintain your website and your digital presence.
Please keep in mind that a web designer is not a master of all trades and an honest one will never try to be all things to all people. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop I would suggest going to a full-service boutique agency that services your industry or niche.
#3 They Should Give You the Right Tools & Training
I often provide my clients with video tutorials of their website – so they can see exactly how to make updates and changes. No designer should leave a client “high and dry” with no way to login to the backend of their site or without the ability to give access to others who may help them maintain it.
If you’re working with a designer who doesn’t want to give you adequate training, the right tools and proper access to your website – I would advise you to walk away. In many cases, people like this either don’t know how to do what you’re asking them to do or they’re just looking for a way to “up-sell” you to a very limited and often overpriced site maintenance package.
Let me tell you, unless they farm it out to another person or company, individual web designers are very hard to pin down for site maintenance and rarely like to do it anyway. I’ve never offered it as a service to my clients myself.
I refer site maintenance for my clients out to companies like GoWP or WPTangerine. Even if I did offer site maintenance as a service – I would have to charge a much higher hourly rate to make it profitable for me to do so and that wouldn’t be fair or cost-effective for my customers.
#4 Make Sure That You’re in Their Budget
This may seem obvious but if you find that your designer is out of your budget, don’t waste your time or theirs trying to talk the price down. They’re either in your budget or they’re not. If you’re not sure what your needs are then please take the time to schedule a “discovery” session or fill out their questionnaires.
Designers aren’t sending you these forms and having these discovery sessions, just to be “snooty”. They need to be able to assess what your needs are and if they are the right fit for you.
In most cases a good designer, who doesn’t feel that you are the right fit for them will often refer you to someone who is better suited for your needs and budget. A pro won’t leave you out to dry with nowhere to go.
Many of them are small business owners just like yourself and want to help out their local businesses and communities too.
Question: Are you ready to take your website to the next level, but haven’t been able to take the next step? If so, what’s stopping you? Share your comments below.
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