Luanne Brown, president and CEO of eTool Developers, provided a roadmap on how to select the ideal web designer during the SEMA webinar presentation, "How to Select and Prepare for a Web Designer." The process that Brown outlined concentrates on two main areas: preparing for a web designer by conducting thorough research of a company's needs and selecting a designer based on building a team best suited to meet the needs identified. Access the entire presentation here.
One of the basics of a site launch or redesign is having a plan and fully identifying what you want the website to achieve. Is it's main purpose to increase sales? Offer product information? Attract new business partners? Before a company can select a web developer, it needs to prepare for the web developer. Listed below are just some of the factors to address prior to launching or redesigning a website.
Preparing for a Web Designer
According to Brown, most often, people looking to redesign their websites are doing so for one main purpose: to sell more products. However, aside from determining the main goal of a site, Brown also urges companies to think about secondary goals for the site, which can range from company branding and communication to providing how-to videos for your products.
It is also important to incorporate your marketing goals and objectives—what Brown refers to as a company's offline plan—with what you plan to do online. "Goals describe future, expected outcome. Goals focus on the end rather than the means," said Brown. Always stay focused on the reasons and purpose for creating or redesigning the website throughout the development process.
"I have always felt that your best online plan is your offline plan," said Brown. "Integrating your goals and objectives from your offline marketing plan enhances your web goals and objectives."
Content is also something that companies need to thoroughly plan prior to bringing in a designer. Brown says to identify the type of content you intend to use on your site. List all types of content you plan to include, such as text, logos, images, product catalogs, in-site search engines, shopping carts, online registration forms, etc.
"One of the biggest reasons people are not satisfied with their site's results," Brown shares, "is because they did not plan properly."
Selecting a Web Designer
With the plan in place and the purpose of the website identified, selecting the appropriate designer is the next step. Brown suggests starting the research for web designers by compiling a list of design candidates. She also says that examining a competitor's website to find out who did the design can provide an idea of where to start. Conducting a Google or Yahoo search for web designers is another good way to get the process started.
"Examine the work of the design firms on your list," said Brown. "Even though you are not an expert, you should be able to tell by a careful examination of a live website that the site was created by someone who knew what they were doing."
You can pinpoint strengths and weakness simply by using an existing site and determining if it was easy to use and provided the appropriate information or resources.
Brown outlined the following questions while examining the existing work of potential designers:
- Is the website optimized for search engine detection?
- Does the website contain relevant content and make proper use of keywords and phrases?
- What site strengths and weaknesses did you identify during your usability tests?
When the list is narrowed for a few candidates, Brown suggests contacting your prospects and sharing with them the specific goals you are trying to accomplish and the types of content you want included in your website. It is also important to ask for a detailed quote that includes a summary of the project and a description of the web design and development process, which includes the specific solutions for your business.
"It's important to share information, marketing plans, business goals and the direction your company is going with the designer," explained Brown. "You join together as a team, and what happens is that you take pride and ownership of the project and your website as well."
For the complete process of preparing and selecting a web designer, including Brown's questions to ask potential developers and how to evaluate and compare the quotes you receive, download the entire presentation here.
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The SEMA webinar series delivers industry-focused educational sessions straight to the desktops of SEMA-member companies and their employees. With topics ranging from economic outlook to sales to aftermarket industry trends, members can participate live or download sessions that are specific to a company’s needs.
To learn more about the SEMA webinars or to view past webinar presentations, visit www.sema.org/webinar.