With today's web-based website builders, "anyone" can build a website, but not anyone can build it right.
In a recent article posted on the Network Solutions website, the author gave 8 signs that it may be time to fire a client. If applied specifically to website design, those reasons could be condensed and rephrased to the following: withholding content, withholding payment, the client ask you to do something illegal / unethical / insists that you implement a decision you (as the expert) disagree with, asks you to make many small changes for free, or they make changes after the fact thus ruin your design. In short - the client just makes life difficult...
For me, an ideal website design client provides:
1. Agrees to the terms of service and trusts my judgment. 2. Clear and timely communication of needs, wants, account info, content, updates, etc. 3. Timely communication of feedback / changes needed prior to publish of site. 4. Timely payment for services rendered (once site is approved and published). 5. A willingness to give a testimonial and referrals (post publish).
More importantly, the ideal freelance website designer provides:
1. Prompt & courteous communication (replies to email / phone messages). 2. Quality service (code, design, marketing, education) using quality tools. 3. Affordable rates (without sacrificing quality). 4. Adequate experience / skill / knowledge (code, design, marketing). 5. Post-publish support (timely updates, follow-up, support, monitoring).
In short, there is a certain amount of trust, respect and commitment that is required (both ways) for the web-designer / client relationship to work.
A good web design company will always quickly return calls / emails, are willing to meet in person, and will listen for what you want and balance that with what you need. They will be available and willing to make changes as requested, quickly and affordably, yet will humbly speak up when they see something not working to its max possibility.
Balancing what you want with what you need, a good freelance website designer will design a site in a way that is visually appealing, user-friendly, search engine optimized, and most importantly - W3C compliant and do so using a tool that can be used to easily update the website and make changes quickly and affordably.
A great freelance website designer will not only do this at a rate that does not sacrifice quality for budget restrictions, but also provide ongoing support in terms of affordable and timely updates, marketing, and search engine optimization.
In the end, after the site is published, you should be able to own the website’s content in full as well as its domain name and hosting. The designer should not hold this information hostage in the event you should part ways.
A solid prior relationship can be key. Think of your seven degrees of separation. Who do you know that may know of someone who is good at website design? That fact that they know you, even through degrees of separation may mean the difference between warm collaborative working relationship and a cold transactional relationship.
If you don’t already know of a website designer that satisfies your requirements, and / or are looking to develop a new business relationship with a small business freelance website designer, give us a call. We’d be happy to connect the pieces of your online presence.