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When looking for a web designer/developer, what qualifications should we ask to see?

Asked by:
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
As mentioned above, it is important to make sure they have a body of work (portfolio) that you can access and take time reviewing. It is also a good idea to look for any testimonials from previous clients. However, it is still worthwhile to contact several clients for more detailed information if desired. It is important to feel comfortable working with a designer or developer.Be willing to give them a list of your needs or more formal requirements. This can give them the ability to provide you a more accurate quote. Also, if you are unsure of what you want to do, start out giving them a smaller job. Ask them to review your current website (from a design and/or development perspective). This way you can hear what they think needs improvement as well as how they would potentially make that happen.Also, be sure to discuss your needed timeline. Many business owners disregard having a time line in mind, however, the turnaround time can greatly impact the price. Rush work will always cost a premium.Lastly, keep an open mind. Designers and developers (myself included) prefer to have the ability to produce great solutions. Micromanaging these roles will not produce the desired results. It is okay to ask for changes, but be specific when giving feedback so they know what needs changed. Remember, hiring the services of a designer or developer is no different than going to see a doctor or having a plumber come over. They are the experts so show that you trust their judgment. Would you second guess a doctor telling you about a procedure or a medication? If your drains were backed up would you tell the plumber he doesn't know what he is talking about? The answer to both of those questions is hopefully, "No".In that same light, be reasonable with a designer/developer. Remember you hired them for a reason. Also, designers and developers talk. If you are labeled a problem client, you'll likely have trouble landing any other designer or developer in the future. We don't like to work with frustrating people if we can avoid it.
Melanie GrayOwner at MyCL (My Computer Lab)
It depends what you are wanting. If you are wanting a simple website (small business website, personal website), contact the designer/developer's previous clients and find out how happy they were with their services. You can also find out if they have set up a CMS style website so you can make simple changes yourself (if that is what you are wanting). If you are thinking of developing a website that has more complex functionality, you'll be wanting a business that has a team of people, and do the same thing. Find their previous customers (whom they have completed work for) and ask them what they thought about their services.
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Questions

What qualifications do you have or when looking for a web designer/developer what qualifications should we ask to see?

Question for all web designers/developers. read more

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Questions

What do you love/not-love about your laptop... have you seen any awesome pre-fin-year sales on these laptops?

Philip BrookesOwner at Aktiv Tactics
I use a 13" MacBook Air and I *love* it's battery life, light weight, and robust construction. I travel a lot, and when a carry-on bag is limited to 7kg every gram counts. When I'm at my desk, I have it hooked up to a 24" external screen, position it on a stand, and use a wireless Apple keyboard plus a wireless Logitech mouse to have essentially a dual-screen desktop configuration.Irrespective of which brand of notebook you purchase, I'd definitely recommend you invest in an SSD (Solid State Drive) - they're so ridiculously faster than a traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) that it'll blow you away. You might think it's just one small part of the equation, but you'd be wrong - the specs of my Macbook Air are nothing special (1.8GHz i5 with 4GB RAM) but due to the blazing fast SSD this machine has handled everything I've thrown at it including Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Aperture, Microsoft Office suite, Dropbox, Google Drive, and scores of apps/windows active simultaneously - with a HDD you'd need to double all the other specs to make that possible. I can't recommend SSD highly enough.
Steven FreemanOwner at Evolved Sound
I love connecting mine into a good old fashioned docking station with all your plugs and screens connected and ready to go. This gives you the best of both worlds, full desktop experience and fully mobile on same machine when removed from dock.
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Questions

Where do I start looking to obtain my web address? Who do you find are the best web providers?

We refer our clients to www.domain-names-only.com if just after a domain name. Be sure to get the DNS Zone Manager option - it's free.Vast range of TLDs. Domain registration privacy is also available on .com domains.If purchasing a domain name as part of a hosted services package then we refer clients to clickonIT.com.au. Vast range of TLDs. Domain name pricing is the same as service above and major benefit is all services managed from a single account manager/login. Domain checker features finds available names in all TLDs.Prinicpal advantage with both systems is quality support. 95% of the time you don't need it, but when you do it's usually urgent and important. Support is local and solves most problems fast.Domain registration is subject to the rules and regulations of a variety of different authorities and agencies so procedures and requirements are often changing. Choosing a domain name and maintaining it as part of your business identity and IP are serious issues often taken lightly.While most registrars do offer a virtually identical system, some do it better than others, so check them out and ask questions as you are doing here on SavvySME.Good luck!
Philip BrookesOwner at Aktiv Tactics
Personally, it's been our experience that the *management* of your domain is frequently the biggest concern, not the basic registration. Many companies can offer domain registration, and while the domain is just parked there you don't experience any issues. You can, of course, point the domain to someone else's Name Servers and configure your domain through somebody else's domain services, but in our experience the smoothest and cleanest experience has been when we register and manage all our domains in the one spot, with a company that has a speedy and effective Zone Manager/Domain Management tool. NetRegistry (or their wholesale spin-off TPP Wholesale) have one of the best Domain packages on the market and it's competitively priced (though not as cheap as GoDaddy or some of the other 'discount' domain registrars). We've picked up a number of clients and transferred them across to our Reseller offering which we purchase from TPP Wholesale when they've come unstuck at the time they need to make changes to their domain configuration. And no matter who you use, you'll make you life a heck of a lot easier if you try to consolidate as many of them as possible to the one provider - there's nothing worse than numerous login credentials spread across multiple registrars and the owner can't remember how to log in to any of them.
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Questions

How do I sell web development services for the first time?

Some good suggestions above. I would like to add - start with what you have in your hand. Do you have a background in a particular industry where you already have contacts? Are they likely to need websites? Establish your position, and let people know you are meeting their online needs. If you try and be everything to everybody, you are increasing competitors rather than clients. Ask yourself where the open doors already exist. Create a landing page that targets that industry and then promote it.
Brad Lyons at Rodcha
When I first launch something new I spend big with adwords. Then once I know the most popular key words people use I buy those domain names. Adwords puts your site at the top instantly and helps you gain an understanding of what people are typing when searching for your services. So I would recommend spending a large amount for the first week of adwords to ensure your ad is always at the top, then wide back the spend as you start to see the common keywords. Modify your current site to ensure those key words are in your content and buy up the keywords as domain names.
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Questions

Why do web designers create ugly sites for clients?

Some professional web design companies create some ugly websites for clients. I understand that the... read more

Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I think that overall many clients are unwilling to give designers and/or design agencies the freedom to create something genuinely interesting and unique.It has been a staple in my professional design career to run into clients that have no design experience, but feel they are perfectly qualified to judge or dictate design. These same clients wouldn't argue with a lawyer, plumber or mechanic, but designers are not respected as a profession in many parts of the world. This perception needs to change.The best way is to limit who you work with as a client. Remind them they came to you and you want their business to succeed. Sometimes you need to work a client up in phases of what they consider "risk". Innovation and design are both tricky business.The other issue is many junior or hobbyist designers do not understand how to correctly structure information to create easily consumable content. The structure of the information is just as important (if not more sometimes) than the visual aesthetic.
Steven FreemanOwner at Evolved Sound
Many call themselves web designers but do not understand the fundamentals of what makes a brilliant design to suit the given client.Yes design is subjective, but unfortunately too many designers are charging clients for something which is way of the mark to clients that do not know otherwise (but not their fault as they are not meant to be the experts).As anyone can be a web designer, authority on this service comes with no official accreditation or certification.
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Questions

I'm running Facebook ads but no one is signing up on my website, what do I do?

I'm using Facebook ads to drive traffic to my website (Home). Many people have clicked the ad but... read more

Great advice Joel. I use Facebook ads for a few different reasons. Sometimes its to get people to like the post, and from there I invite them to like the page. Sometimes its to get them to sign up for a free offer (also called an opt-in or lead magnet), in which case I direct them to a LeadPage specifically set up to garner their email address in return for a free resource that is of value to them. And sometimes I throw $10-$20 at a post just to see what happens. When I first started using Facebook ads I was bitterly disappointed that people were not clicking, signing up etc. Now I treat each campaign as a bit of an experiment - did it work, who is looking, who is clicking, which posts do they like/not like. As Joel said, please feel free to add more detials and tap into the power of the Savvy SME Mastermind.Bec
Joel WarrenDirector, Senior website designer and developer at Wiild Interactive Pty Ltd
Hi Cassie,This is a common senario. The main problem is you are directing traffic with what I assume is an engaging ad if it's getting clicks, but then you directing them to a homepage - which generally don't have a strong sales narrative. I'm generalising here but that's my experience.If you visit your own website is there a clear direction to take the action you want people to take?If so- great, but then consider if the websites directive as related to what you discuss in your ad? If not people may be getting confused or not finding the right action to take on your website.If you are directing paid traffic to your website it worth considering this as a "campaign" and setting up the supporting structure to make it successful. I.e. use a landing page specific to the ad, so you get a consistent message that's obvious and can't be mistaken.Consider what you are giving people in exchange for signing up? Are you targeting the right market? is it valueable to that market? Are you expecting too much from a single interaction? Do you have a something in place to nuture them after they sign up so they eventually purchase?Sorry bit of a brain dump, but hopefully there are some gem's in there.If you reply with more detail I can advice more specifcally.Be amazing,Joel Warren
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Questions

What does it mean to whitelabel your wordpress website?

Joel WarrenDirector, Senior website designer and developer at Wiild Interactive Pty Ltd
Generally it means to replace references to WordPress in the admin, i.e. login screen, admin bar etc.Some website designers use this, I update the logo on the login screen but refrain from trying to "hide" WordPress as I value WordPress and what it allows me to do.
I believe this means to sell it on to clients so that they can use it under your brand (not the actual builder). e.g. WebPresences develop sites for website designers.
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Questions

What are the best sources to learn web coding (in a short time)?

I ask this question as I want to design a website for my start-up and I have two months time to... read more

Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Atif,I would recommend, Codecademy (http://codecademy.com), Code (http://code.org) and Team Treehouse (https://teamtreehouse.com/). Team Treehouse isn't free but they do offer a 7-day free trial and I've heard good things from others that have used it. But full disclosure, I haven't used that service myself. I hope that is helpful.
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Questions

How much should I pay someone to develop a website using Squarespace Shift?

I am wanting to develop a templated web site using Squarespace Shift. Can anyone suggest what would... read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Steve OsborneOwner at Smarthinking
Hi YeeBecause SquareSpace is a self-managed, or DIY platform, I'm guessing your plan is to be very "hands-on" in the site building process. You probably want the ability to change designs and page layouts on the fly, and see alternatives before making a final decision. If your intention is the opposite – to have it all done for you – there are other development/platform choices better suited for your needs.So, assuming the former, I suggest you manage the process by engaging someone at an hourly rate, rather than a flat fee. And you do your work face-to-face, at the same location. That way, you can see what is required to bring your ideas for the site to life. You will learn as you go, better equipping you to build or adapt the site in the future.Your investment may be relatively considerable up-front – say 10-20hrs @ $50/hr – but quickly taper off as you become adept with the tools.Think of it as an investment in your own professional development. Hope this helps.
Annette Dockerty GAICDMarketing Director at Elcom
Hi Yee,It depends on how many pages, how much content, testing, tweaking etc you need. I don't think you need a developer in the back end sense, more a front end dev/designer as the platform is there you just need someone with a good sense of design to build out the pages and make your content look great. Do you have a brief? is the content ready? If you can give me a sense of scope I can give you a rough estimate of hours as a starting point to working out a budget.
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Questions

Has anyone with basic technical skills built their own website?

Hi everyone! Has anyone with basic technical skills built their own website? I was thinking of... read more

CAROL JONESOwner at Interface Pty Ltd
Greetings Paul from rural Australia,My partner and I have developed several websites on our own. With no technical skills others than those learned during the development of each site.The first site we built was in 2006 using Microsoft Front Page.But now we use Wordpress. And our current site uses a Genesis Framework Theme called Metro Pro.We opted out of using a third party to develop the site because of two factors.The high cost.And the lack of control you have for changing what they call 'trivia' when someone else is building your site.Our online business is our sole source of income. And we're very fussy about how it looks. And what it says. About us. To our customers. Hence we're control freaks!There are so many tutorials online about how to develop a site. Especially if you're using the Genesis Framework. And we were able to do it ourselves because of the forums. And tutorials about every subject we wanted to know something about.As someone who's been through this more than once, I've learned to be more disciplined about how I approach a new site.The first thing I do is buy a 96 Page Exercise Book from the newsagent. And write down the steps to every change I make. Tedious? Absolutely. But in a week you won't remember what you've done. And if you want to change it again, the notes are better than starting from scratch all over again.I filled half a 96 page book with instructions on how to do things for our new site. And it's dog eared from use.Second.Wordpress is easy to use. But. It's NOT a secure platform. And is easily hacked.But there are steps you can take to make sure it's safer.When choosing your username, never use admin. Every hacker can enter your site with the word admin. And never use a combination of your url or site name. Hackers can figure that out, too. Make sure your username is totally unrelated to your site. And complicated.Ditto for your password. I have a 15 digit password with letters, numbers and symbols. I don't remember it. But it's in a safe place and if I ever need to use it, I can copy and paste it in.This is the link to our site. http://www.interfaceaustralia.com/wordpress/I hope this helps you.Best wishes,~Carol Jones, Ironing Diva❤ Purveyor of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover And Other Goodies 350,000 customers. In 29 countries.
Hi,I'd go back to these questions, what's the purpose of getting a website ?Is it simply because a business must have a website ?Will the website make money for the business (ecommerce) ?Is the website is the business ?How important is the website for the business at this stage ?Those questions, I normally ask when people want to get website from us.If it's simply the idea is "business must have a website", I'd suggest go for DIY website likeWIX, or some sort and use their template. Looks good and save time and money.And later in the future, we can always upgrade to another solution.If it is part of marketing strategy, would be good to put SEO or many marketing strategy in to consideration to drive traffic into the website and convert them into customers.However, some of our clients, they upgraded their websites because the like to be more efficient in some of their business process. In this case, they don't really need SEO.If you really want to know how to build a website and have plenty of time, there are lots of online tutorial. My favorite is www.w3schools.com, and I am sure there are many others on the net. Bear in mind that, all website platforms, wordpress / squarespace / bigcommerce / shopify / wix, etc...the idea behind it, is all the same.Up to this stage, anyone can promote/claim different or new technologies / server languages (.net/php/ruby/phyton/etc), but in terms of website, everything will come back to html/css and javascript.So HTML / CSS / Javascript is the core foundation of a website. Master it.If the website is a very important part of the business then I'd suggest leave it to the expert, that is local (have 1300 number of mobile phone or you can meet them in person), and reliable for long term, and we as business owner can focus on the business.That's what I do with my business too, things that I can afford to escalate to experts, I'd escalate.Hope that helps,Aditya WardhanaWeb Design Melbourne
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Web design and development

How to Hire a Good Web Designer

If you want your small business to be successful in the current world, it needs to have a... read more

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Web design and development

5 Tips for Improving Web Design

A website, for many is a lifeline for business owners. And for some, it’s just a place holder to... read more

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Nina Meiers Web Strategist at XD
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I love what you said about writing authentically; it's something I always try to do by listening to what the business owners says to me on the phone. Often there is a real mismatch between what the web copy says and what the business owner thinks and how he or she operates.
Web design and development

The Importance of Optimising a Website for Multi-Device Viewing

Having a website is so important for all businesses to have an online presence in this digital age,... read more

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Web design and development

6 Steps to Create a Successful Small Business Website

If you are considering setting up a new small business website or looking to improve an existing... read more

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Great article, thank you.
Dj HodgsonMarketing & Communications Manager, BDM at David Henderson Online
Awesome. Thanks for all that feedback Ivana, once again. Great article.
Web design and development

6 Forgotten Components that Small Business Websites Need

Most people, when redesigning or building a website, give lots of thought to color scheme, images... read more

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Abi Waterer Owner at Yola
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Phil JoelDirector at SavvySME
Thank you for sharing this article Abi. Really informative and helpful. I agree that 3rd party recommendations is so important as it builds trust.
Abi WatererOwner at Yola
Thanks Ling, glad you found the article useful. It's great that you're working on getting a mobile site, I'm sure you will reap the rewards once it's live!
Questions

Can someone recommend good web designers and web developers in Sydney?

Hi I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to start with regards to finding a web developer in Sydney.... read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Whomever you approach Yee, make certain you receive a comprehensive proposal demonstrating that they have a clear understanding of the sites target audience and precisely what you want it to achieve. It must also contain all costs associated with ongoing maintenance, hosting, updating and optimisation. I have read some fascinating documents over the years that contained technical flim-flam, very little genuine substance and ambiguous pricing.There are many applications that rank web pages so use one or two on the proposer’s own, http://www.evolvingseo.com/2012/01/24/the-ultimate-list-of-rank-checkers/?utm_source=www.inbound.org. this will lead to some very interesting conversation.Talk directly to site owners featured in their portfolio, ask all the questions that you need answers for, particularly about the development process and the level of control extended to their clients.Make sure you also receive a detailed introduction to the proposed site’s back-end and are confident that they can instruct your people on how to use all its facilities.Before you part with your cash (and prior to the site being published) ask for evidence that any 3rd party licensed material has actually been paid for and is licensed for your use (unencumbered).
HUNTER LEONARDFOUNDER AND CEO at BLUE FROG MARKETING PTY LTD
Hi YeeThe best team I have seen in terms of the development of sites and also professional understanding of SEO/SEM etc is a company called CLICK CREATIVE.We've just commissioned them to do a large project for a key client of ours and they have been super impressive in their work so far. I understand they've just opened an office in Glebe, and have offices in Melbourne too.CheersHunter
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Web design and development

Things you need to know when starting an e-commerce website

We've complied a list of things you need to know to help you get started with an e-commerce... read more

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Maria Bellissimo-MagrinOwner at Belgrin
Great Selina, we're happy to help! We've seen so many vague articles on the net about starting out in e-commerce, so we wanted to be able to share our knowledge.
Selina ShaplandOwner at Selina Shapland
This is exactly the type of information I need. Thank you.
Web design and development

Website woes: html to wordpress, what could go wrong?

With Content Management Systems becoming all the rage for managing a website (and quite rightly... read more

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Charly Leetham CEO & Founder at Ask Charly Leetham
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Micha WottonHead of Development at SavvySME
Some good caveats for business owners here, Charly, thanks. Are there other CMS platforms you use besides Wordpress?
Great post! Very useful. Only thing I would change is that you should start with the last point - be strategic! * If your site works just fine for you now, don't change it. * If you are changing it, then list everything you want to change and prioritise the most important points BEFORE you start the implementation. Thanks especially for the info on the redirection plug-in - need to check that one out!
Web design and development

The importance of a great website for a new business

There are many reasons why having the perfect website for your business is so critically... read more

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Ananda Raj PandeyCTO at SavvySME
Great article, :)
Phil KhorFounder at SavvySME
Great article! Well thought out and shows depth of experience in creating websites that not only look good, but functional and effective. Thanks for sharing Daniel. Looking fwd to your next one.