How to Choose Between Web Designers

by ronpass

This articles identifies 6 key characteristics of the best web designers. It shows you what to look for in web design firms to get a creative web design that is affordable.

Criteria for choosing web designers

What to look for in web design firms

When you choose a web designer, you need to ensure that you get real value for your money.  Your web site designer has to be able to create the right atmosphere, make your website user-friendly, integrate SEO and social media marketing and provide a dynamic web design.  I found all these qualities in Anne Corcino when she redesigned the website for my offline business, Merit Solutions Australia

Choose Affordable, Creative Web Design Over Cheap Web Designers

A Recent Story of a Cheap Web Desgn Firm

I was motivated to write this article when I received a phone call recently from Sam in India who was ringing me in Australia on behalf of a web design firm in the US.   Normally, I would quickly terminate such a conversation from a cheap web designer but I was interested in finding out what web design services were on offer and at what cost.

Sam proceeded to tell me that he could offer a 3 page web design for $400.   When I asked him what WordPress theme he would be using, he was stumped and had to consult his web designer.  The answer came back, “We can do anything” – which did nothing to inspire my confidence in him or the web design firm he represented.   As the conversation progressed, I quickly learned that he knew very little about social media marketing and had not heard of Google +. I asked him what work his firm did in the area of Google Places and he asked me what that was. 

After I provided a ten minute explanation and emphasized the value of this feature for web design firms, he offered me a “Happy Hour” special of $300 for four web pages.  At no stage did he ask me what business I was in or what were my goals in designing a website

The whole conversation made me appreciate the knowledge, skill and professionalism that Anne Corcino (Squidster) displayed when she redesigned the website for my offline business through her Riverside Web Design Services Company, SEO Praxis.

I came to understand some of the features that set Anne and SEO Praxis apart from many other web design firms.  In essence, there were six key features that I discuss in turn below.

Criteria 1 : Creating an Atmosphere for a Web Design

Hire a Web Design Artist not a Technician

One of the things that Anne Corcino is particularly good at is developing an atmosphere for the web design that aligns with the nature of the business and the focus of its services.

This can range from developing a site that is intense and engaging as in a musical drama website to creating an atmosphere of professionalism for a human resource consultancy services company.  This skill in web design requires an intimate understanding of the target small business and a creative skill that few web designers possess.

Anne recently designed a website for an acupuncture friend of mine, Houng Lau in Sydney, Australia.  Houng specializes in Japanese Acupuncture for women and the use of Chinese Herbs.  So Anne designed a WordPress-based website that was oriental in character and conveyed a sense of peace and tranquillity.  Her website design for Bondi Acupuncture is simple, elegant and consistent with the focus of this small business.  Creative web design is not just about technical skill, it is also about artistry.

Creating a Tranquil Atmosphere with an Asian Theme

Bondi Acupuncture website design
Bondi Acupuncture Clinic
Bondi Acupuncture Clinic

Criteria 2: Integrating SEO in Web Design

Search engine optimization as an integral part of web design

One of the advantages of a WordPress web site is that it enables easy integration of SEO.  WordPress experts like Anne Corcino are able to maximize the benefits of this feature through their web design which highlights the key services of a business.

Web designers, such as SEO Praxis, are also able to recommend plug-ins such as SEO Pressor which facilitates developing blog posts that are optimized for search engines.

Criteria 3: Developing a User-Friendly Web Design

Ease of navigation is critical for web design

The best web designers are able to create a balance between aesthetics and ease-of-use of a web page design.  It is little use having an aesthetically pleasing website that people find difficult to navigate.  Ease of navigation is a critical element for ensuring people spend time on your website and are able to locate what they are searching for.

Unless the visitor quickly sees what they came to your website for, they will rapidly leave the site.  Anne Corcino has the ease of navigation top-of-mind when she designs WordPress sites as is illustrated in the design for the Bondi Acupuncture website.

Easy Navigation - Bondi Acupuncture Services

Visual links to key acupunture services
Bondi Acupuncture Services
Bondi Acupuncture Services

Criteria 4: Flexibilty in Web Design

Developing a creative website with WordPress

The better web designers are able to work with a range of WordPress Themes such as Studio Press..  Expert WordPress web designers, like Anne Corcino of SEO Praxis, can use a skeletal theme such as Hybrid which requires knowledge of coding and the ability to add widgets and plugins in an original design.  This knowledge and skill enables greater flexibility in web design and a better ability to meet clients' needs.

Inexperienced web designers, like myself, work basically from predesigned WordPress themes such as the Socrates theme which is ideal for affiliate marketers.  This reduces the flexibility in design but is useful for those that lack an intimate understanding of WordPress web design.

Creative Web Design through Flexible Use of WordPress Themes

In-depth knowledge of WordPress enables flexible web design
Merit Solutions Australia - Creative web design
Merit Solutions Australia - Creative web design

Criteria 5: Integrating Social Media Marketing in Web Page Design

The best web design incorporates social media marketing

It is one thing to have a great website but no one will see it unless you actively promote it.  This is where integration of social media marketing, such as the new Google +1, becomes critical.

Your web designer needs to have up-to-date knowledge of social media and how to best integrate social media marketing within the web design.  This requires an understanding not only of the features of social media sites but also of the behaviour of people who use social media.  It also entails an in-dpeth understanding of online marketing.

I've found that Anne Corcino excels in these aspects.  She is not only a GiantSquid (Squidster) but also a Co-Founder of Wizzley.  Her technical design and marketing advice in the creation of this social network for writers was invaluable.

Anne has also designed the creative, WordPress-based social network for Squidoo members  Her role in designing, refining and maintaining this web design clearly demonstrates her ability to integrate social media marketing within a WordPress website.   Anne offers her knowledge and skills in social media marketing through her web design firm.

Criteria 6: A Web Design that Faciliates Business Development and Growth

The web design should enable business growth and diversification

One of the things that I really appreciated about Anne Corcino's web design for my offline business, Merit Solutions Australia, was the way she built in the capacity to develop and grow our small business.

This required an understanding of the life cycle of our business (15 years old) and a willingness to learn about our plans for future directions.  Her web design accommodates and supports growth in products and services as well as diversification.

A key aspect of her design of a professional looking site was that our HR consultants were very impressed and were keen to contribute to further development of the site and our business. The web design enables them to submit articles and blog posts and comment on our web content.  They can participate in social media marketing of the site through the Google +1 buttons on articles and through social bookmarking via the social media icons.

A key aspect of the web design is the pride it engenders in our HR consultants who want to be associated with a business that demonstrates a professional web presence.  This in turn has led to their willingness to develop new products, contribute creative ideas for new services and to market the business in their day-to-day interactions with clients.  People like to share their association with a professional-looking business...and a quality web design can encourage this sharing.

Updated: 11/02/2011, ronpass
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Sunforged on 03/15/2012

I like your criteria. But, I do think you need to (and it can be done) find a Creative that is either equally versed in the technical aspects as the creative or simply a firm that has the staff to encompass both angles. I peeked at the portfolio pages and seems like Anne has that handled.

But, as a general rule. "Designers" make for poor marketers and even poorer seo/site design specialists. The larger and more popular your site becomes the more important the technical aspect becomes. Little mistakes in db configuration,permalinks, plugin conflicts can really add up.

So I would add an additional criteria of selecting a Designer that is a master of the platform in which they work. If that platform is WP - select one that can write a plugin from scratch, work through WP database files one by one and is capable of still conversing with you as a "non-tech"

one rookie mistake to keep a lookout for is permalink structure in Wordpress - if they follow "SEO guru" advice and change your permalinks without maintaining the base requirements that WP needs for speed, you will see decreasing performance as your site grows.

I like Anne's design on Chef Recipes, and have just found a great recipe! - one could notice that she has the permalink structure exactly right too (and its the type of site that could grow massively with lots of recipe additions and begin to drag if she hadnt!)

Holistic_Health on 10/25/2011

I'm finding there are a lot of people with good skills, but poor customer service -- late, have to repeat things, etc. You made some great points though.

Michey on 09/26/2011

Very good points for choosing web designers. The biggest problem I had long time ago was the luck of flexibility of designers, so in many instances I took the initiative to do it my self, and now with the flexibility of Wordpress, I really do everything myself.

dustytoes on 09/26/2011

I have no experience with web designers, but I do love the look of Anne's work.

chefkeem on 09/25/2011

If I just knew how to explain to people, how much time and money they save by using Anne's services. But wait - perhaps it is better NOT to tell folks about her. She might get too busy and won't have time for my stuff anymore. Mwua-ha-ha!

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