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Reccomendations on a website designer


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Hey Dave,

 

I've owned a web hosting company since 1995 and for the first eight years or so had web designers and programmers on staff but eventually switched over to hosting only. We're not accepting new clients so I'm not trying to pitch you but here are a few things to consider that I've learned over the last 17-18 years:

 

1. Generally speaking there are two components to web design; the front end graphical user interface and the back end programming and server side that makes it all function. Having employed dozens of designers as staff and freelancers I learned that a great front end person does not always and quite rarely makes a good programmer on the back side. It is two different skill sets.

 

2. From a designer and programmer point of view the two most common things that slow down a project are the client's ability to hand you ALL FINAL CONTENT from photos to videos to text and then project creep. Do yourself and your designer a favor and have all your text written, all your photos collected and all your videos ready to hand to them. That was and is the number one challenge. Project creep is the result of a poorly designed site architecture and poor planning. You should start writing out a site architecture that looks like a family tree as to how your site will flow. Think about how you want it to click through. Start adding legs to the family tree and you'll raise the cost, frustrate your designer and lose time. For instance, adding thumbnail photos that enlarge and then later deciding you want to add a narrative to some of the photos is an example.

 

3. Make sure your designer knows from the beginning that you want the site to be 100% functional across mobile platforms like iPads and phones and that it works the same on Firefox, Safari and Explorer.

 

4. Try to set up a progressive payment plan based on completion of specific phases and hold the final 25% for completion and final approval. Instead of 50/50 try a 30/30/30 or 50/25/25

 

5. Set a very specific completion date for the designer because you're going to deliver your content first day and not add pages. Right? If you want to add pages set up a phase two of the site to be added later under separate contract AFTER phase one is complete.

 

6. Before final payment and after final approval of the functionality, make sure your designer cleans up all working graphics, names them in a way you or someone later understands them, organizes them and gives you a disk or folder with the complete site and ALL WORKING FILES especially layered Photoshop files and Illustrator files. You don't want all the test and working files they discarded.

 

7. If you choose to go with a Wordpress based site and / or a customized template site all of the above still applies.

 

8. Hire slow and fire fast

 

These are my experiences based on design and hosting of a few thousand sites and dozens of vendors good and bad.

 

Robert

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