So you're looking for a website designer in Panama City…
…and need some direction as to what makes a good one?
There are lots of "website designers" in town, and I use quotes because it doesn't take much these days to get a fancy laptop, a slick homepage and some techy internet jargon and present yourself to the world as a pro. But, like learning the saxophone, quality website design is easy to start, but hard to perfect.
Never fear, though. There are some really great designers in Panama City as well, and some ways to separate them from the pretenders.
Following are a few questions to ask as you interview designers for your next website.
1) May I see your web design portfolio?
This one is common sense, and every designer should have a portfolio page on his/her own site, but it bears repeating, for a couple of reasons. First, you can tell pretty quickly how long a designer has been in business by the number of sites in the portfolio itself. If there are only 2 or 3, this person might be new to the industry. It's not necessarily a dealbreaker, but something to consider.
Second, and more importantly, you can use the portfolio to see what types of sites this shop likes to build. Website design is like any other artistic work, designers like any other artists. They have tastes, preferences, and pronounced styles. You will do yourself a favor is you search for a designer whose tastes match yours.Both of you will be happier.
2) May I see some references?
Again, this is business 101, but often gets overlooked. If this designer has been in business for even a little while, s/he should have some people who can recommend his/her work. Also, a shorthand way to do this is to just Google their company name and see what pops up. Ratings and reviews are everywhere, so do a little digging.
3) Which CMS do you like to use, and why?
Modern, user-friendly sites should be built on a Content Management System, or CMS. Content Management Systems take all that complicated web code and turn it into a system the average business person can use. They allow you as the business owner to control and change the content on your own site, without having to call your webmaster every time you want to update.
Every legit web designer should know what a CMS is and have a favorite. They should also be able to tell you why they like the one they do. This will show they know what they are doing. If you find a designer who stumbles on this question, be wary. You are going to want your site built on a Content Management System, even if you don't know why right now. You will thank me later.
4) How will you optimize my website?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a complicated and growing field of web development and promotion. Essentially, SEO is making your site attractive to search engines like Google, and the search engines find different things attractive than your site visitors might. For instance, as of yet the search engines can't see images, so a good SEO best practice is to add text behind the pictures to tell the search engines what they are about. This is just one little technique, and your web developer should know many more.
We inherit lots of sites from other companies that look beautiful to our eyes, but not so much to the search algorithms. Your next designer should have a working knowledge of SEO best practices and should be able to explain them to you in plain language. This is really important stuff, so make sure and ask this question.
5) Will my site have Analytics?
Online, everything is measurable. You can track not only your website traffic, but also see where in the world your visitors are, how long they spent on each page, the order in which they navigated through your site, what sort of device they are on, what operating system, and on and on.
You want this data. It will help you better reach new customers and make your site work harder for you. However, this tracking does not happen all by itself, and just because you have a new website does not mean you have tracking out of the box.
This measuring and tracking of your website's activity is, in web language, called Analytics, and it is very important. And, your web developer can include it on your site quite easily, if s/he knows what s/he is doing.
Even if you don't use the Analytics information right away, you'll want to be gathering it. Six months from now you may want to see how your site is doing, and you'll have that information available.
Finding a web developer can be a daunting experience, in Panama City or anywhere. However, we here in the Florida Panhandle have some great resources, if you know the questions to ask to find them. Start with these and you'll be on your way.
Of course, I wouldn't have written this article if we at Kerigan Marketing could not answer all of them and more. We're extremely proud of our website design work,so if you would like to talk to one of our designers, please contact us anytime.
Thanks for reading.