To Hire A Designer, THAT Is The Question

provided by Novella Studios

Web design is an art all in it’s own and it takes someone with talent and experience to really create an effective and appealing design. So unless you’ve got both the talent and the experience you’re better off letting a professional designer handle the enormous task of creating on online image for you. You might be thinking, well I’ve got a computer, I have AOL, I have Front Page or (Lord help us) Word… I can design my own web site. Sure, you can do that… but then you need to consider if cutting a few cost corners is worth sacrificing the image you’re portraying online.

If you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer, than you need to portray yourself as a professional. Everything you do online, including your web site should be representational of your professionalism and your commitment to quality work.

While most writers can understand the need for a beautifully crafted book cover, the true purpose and importance of web site design is often a mystery. You wouldn’t dare slap a piece of free clipart on your book, yet everyday writers (or their well meaning friends) clutter their web sites with low-resolution, out of focus, cheesy cartoon drawings. You’re probably thinking that this doesn’t sound like much of a crime, but then you probably haven’t asked yourself how those graphics affect your web site and your overall image.

Consider this, your web site may not present your first impression, but it will certainly present a lasting one. Your web site should reflect you as an individual, as a writer, as a contributor to the literary industry. Your readers should be able to get a sense of your style, your commitment to quality, your professionalism. It should proudly state, “I am a professional author” not scream, “Look at me, I write books!” Is this a little drastic? Perhaps, but then if it wasn’t important companies wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars a year on their web site designs.

So once you’ve decided that your image does matter, then you’ll need to find yourself a professional designer. So let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider when shopping for a designer.

1. Previous Work – the first thing you should look at when considering a designer is their previous work. Visit the web sites that they’ve done and keep an eye out for design sense, quality and functionality. Ask yourself does the overall look and feel of the site say something about the client? Are the graphics appealing or do they look like something your five year old created? Can you easily move through the site? Does everything work properly? It’s important to remember that each design will be a creation of the designer, but the inspiration lies within the client. Just because you don’t like one design doesn’t mean that they’re not the designer for you. Be sure to check out at least two or three samples of their work to get a good idea of their style and quality.

2. Their web site – you can tell a lot about a designer by looking at his/her web site. It can be a key to unmasking their true commitment to quality and understanding of the purpose of the web site as a whole. After all if they can’t make their own site look good and serve the purpose of promoting their work and informing you of their service, then what are the chances they’ll be able to do it for you? You want to look for a nicely designed site with well-written copy and sufficient information about their services and prices. Finding clipart or other low quality graphics, missing information such as prices or broken links should send up red flags.

3. Rates for Service – if you’re like most authors, you’re probably working on a budget, so the cost for services is something to consider.

Initial Site Design Service – You want to look for solid rates, meaning a general price for service. Most designers charge per page or per hour rates. Some designers offer prepackaged pricing plans, be sure to check these carefully. Often you’ll find that with a package deal you’re getting less of a site (sometimes more junk that you don’t need) and your paying more money. Be sure to always ask if an agreement or contract is required and ask to see it. Be wary of any designer who doesn’t use a contract or agreement or refuses to allow you to see it ahead of time. Also be sure to get an estimate on what the total cost will be for your site.

Update Services – Most designers charge per hour fees for updates to your site. Look for reasonable rates; the average is about $45-65 an hour. Be sure to ask if there is any timeframe for update. Some designers will only allow you to submit updates at certain times of the month. You want to find a designer that is flexible with reasonable rates. Don’t forget to ask about contracts and agreements.

Additional Service – A lot of designers offer additional services. These may be as simple a monthly “what’s new” newsletters to a complex promotional contests. You want to look for flexibility in their additional services, meaning you don’t have to pay for services you don’t want just get the ones that you do want. Be wary of any designer offering elements such as guest books or counters as “additional services” as these are not services, they are web page elements and should cost you very little if anything. Also look for any kind of support services, if not listed be sure to ask what they offer in the way of customer and web support (some don’t offer it at all and you’re on your own so you need to know that in advance).

Now take a deep breath, relax and don’t fret over all the information you’ve just absorbed. It probably looks like it’s a long, complicated process to choose a designer. But really what it comes down to is common sense. Do you like their current designs? Does their company or personal web site give you a good impression? Do they offer the services you need at a price you can afford? If you can answer yes to all of those questions then you’re probably making a good choice. When in doubt contact their clients (you can usually do this by visiting their client’s web site and looking for the site owner’s email address) to find out how they like their design service. Nothing beats a good recommendation.

© 2002 by Novella Studios

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