All posts by Rory84

How to Choose a Website Designer

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How to Choose a Website Designer

As a web designer I can appreciate how difficult it can be for customers to choose the right people to create a website that will meet all of their requirements. It is an industry that has a huge variation in pricing and the services that can be provided.

On one end of the scale are the 1&1 My Website and other personal website builders that charge very little and use templates to produce generic designs and layouts. Whereas these may appeal to small companies with limited budgets that wish to have ‘any kind’ of web presence, eventually the poor design, SEO and limited technical support may cause your company more harm than good.

At the other end of the scale are the digital media agencies which employ a team of talented people that can deal with any requirements you may have, no matter how obscure. As great as this is, it will cost time and money that can be outside the budget of a lot of businesses.

Somewhere in the middle you have the freelance website designers like myself. Here again there can be big differences in prices, quality and the different services that are provided by different companies. For that reason I’ve decided to write a short guide on how to choose the best freelance designer for your business.

1. Rather than go for the cheapest option, consider how much a high quality, optimised website will be worth to your business. There are some freelancers online charging as little as £150 for 10 page websites. Even at £10 an hour that means they will only be spending 15 hours on a website that should be an integral part of your business.

Obviously cost is an important consideration for any company.  However in the age of Google, Internet Shopping and social media a strong web presence or e-commerce website could potentially generate more income than a traditional shop.
Your web designer should be able to tell you how the website can make you money and give you a break down of how long things will take and exactly how much they will cost.

 

2. Check for a quality online portfolio that has examples of work similar to your requirements. All respectable designers should be able to show past examples of their work. Different freelancers may be skilled in different areas of design and development, for example, developing an e-commerce website requires a different level of skills than a simple brochure website. Therefore make sure the services they are offering will fulfill the requirements of your business.

 

3. Contact the designer directly to find out how helpful and knowledgable they are. As you will be working with your chosen designer over the course of weeks or months it is important to build up a good working relationship to get the best results for your website. Your designer should be attentive and listen to your requirements but also be able to share their knowledge and expertise and make recommendations of ways to maximise the business potential of your website.

 

4. Check for positive testimonials of the designers work. If the designer has succesful projects for their clients then the feedback on their website or social media should reflect that.

 

5. Once you have made contact with a suitable designer they should provide you with some terms and conditions or a contract as well as an estimated delivery time, quote and payment schedule. Check these thoroughly and make sure they meet your budget and requirements. Most designers and developers will require a deposit before commencing a project. This is to help with running costs and provide additional security should any problems arise. The deposit will be refundable in the unlikely event that the project is not completed.

 

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Hopefully this guide will help your quest to find the right person for your website project. The vast majority of freelance designers are reliable and trustworthy and will produce work of a high standard. However, like any industry there are some that may let you down if you do not take these points into account.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to enquire about my services.

Feedback is welcome through the comment form below.

Blog Post – The Wonders of WordPress

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The Wonders of WordPress

About 24 months ago I didn’t believe it when a friend told me that they’d heard WordPress would become the primary choice for developing websites in the future. My understanding of WordPress at the time was that it was a blogging platform that could now be used to create different types of websites by using templates.

Having spent years teaching myself to develop websites from the ground up using all the required coding, I was very cynical that a ‘template-based’ platform could be the future of web development. However, as it turns out, my perception of WordPress at the time didn’t take into account the possibilities that this powerful medium could provide a skilled web developer.

So What is WordPress?

WordPress is a piece of web-based software that incorporates a content management system alongside the file structure required to produce a website.

This means that a developer like myself can make a website on WordPress that provides my client with an easy-to-use system so that they can manage the site themselves.

 

Additionally, WordPress is a free, open-source platform, which means the tools to develop additional functionality to work with it are widely available. This has led to the creation of thousands of different plug-ins (many free to use, some with a small fee) which can be installed onto the main software.

For Example, one of the most popular plug-ins is Woocommerce. This provides all the functionality to turn a website into an ecommerce website; with product pages, shopping cart, customer and delivery details, all of which can be managed by the client from the admin area of WordPress.

Plug-Ins like this are one of the key contributors to the success of the WordPress platform. Many of them provide functionality which if it had to be developed from scratch would take a skilled developer or team of developers many hours to construct. Consequently it has enabled freelance developers like myself to construct ecommerce websites and other sites with complex functionality at reduced time and cost than was previously possible.

WordPress Themes

I was quite disparaging of WordPress as a template based web software when I first became aware of it. However the reality is far removed from typical web templates like the cheap ‘1&1 my website’ and similar services.

First of all, WordPress ‘themes’ are professionally constructed, generally great looking themes. They offer responsive design (work perfectly on all devices) and many customisation options to make your website original. Skilled developers like myself can construct child themes which will keep the functionality of the original but can then use HTML/CSS and PHP code to completely reconstruct a website to the clients requirements.

My WordPress Experience.

I first began using WordPress myself about 8 months ago. In that time I have become comfortable with it’s methods of working to the point that it is the software I use to construct 80% of my websites now. I have taught myself how to construct my own themes from scratch, which means I can produce an entirely bespoke website design which incorporates all the functionality WordPress has to offer. Many of my websites will be constructed as child themes which means I can adapt an existing theme to produce an advanced, responsive website with original design and a wide range of specific functions.

The nature of WordPress as an open source platform means that it is futureproof, easy to use and capable of enabling nearly every function you would want from a website. There are some limitations and some very specific website functionality would still require bespoke development. However, for small to medium enterprises, it can provide an elegant website solution in the hands of a skilled designer/developer.

If you would like to know more, please see my portfolio for examples or get in touch today for a free quote.

Feedback is welcome through the comment form below.