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Design Blog

Art Attack Computer Designs

What you should know before you choose someone for your website.

With limited industry regulation and thousands of people out there claiming to be ‘web designers’ or ‘web developers’ ranging from large advertising agencies to students working from their bedrooms, how do you pick one that will be right for your business? Here are some tips if you want to be sure your website and your web designer to be professional:

  • Industry experience – the web industry is relatively young, but it also didn’t start yesterday. Make sure your designer has been around for at least a few years as so many don’t last long enough to support you once your site is up, or even before it is up!
  • Experience in web design, development and usability – websites are a combination of good looks, technical build and flow of information. Make sure the company building your site has a balance of graphic design and technical skills, as well as knowledge about how people navigate and search online. In most cases, a team with these individual skills creates the best outcome together.
    A ‘developer’ usually has a programming or similar background which means that your site will work well technically, but look unprofessional, lack impact or be very ‘techy’. On the other hand, a web designer with a graphic design background may make the site look professional, but often lacks the knowledge of the correct way to build the site for search engines and other technical issues which may cause problems later or restrict how you use the site in the future. Usability or ‘information design’ is not something most web design companies know very much about. It is about understanding how your users will navigate and find information on your site and putting their needs first. Ideally, look for a company with in-house graphic design, web development/programming and usability skills available who all work together on your website.
  • Size of the company – so many clients come to us when they have lost everything to do with their website. They have paid a one-man-show to develop their site and the person has then vanished overseas when they have problems with their site, or even before it is up. If ongoing support is important to you and you don’t want to risk losing your whole site, make sure the company you use is not a single operator who could leave you in the lurch should anything happen to them.
  • Range of clients – your web company should be able to provide you with a list of clients and references they have worked for in a broad range of industries. The broader the range of industries, they broader their range of experience they can bring to your work.
  • Portfolio – the company you choose should be able to show you a portfolio of their work and explain the background and reasoning behind the designs.
  • Industry accreditation – Accreditation and industry association membership is not widespread in Australia, but it does indicate that a company is committed to certain standards and ongoing professional development. Check if your web company is a member of a recognised organsiation such as the Web Standards Group (WSG), Australian Web Industry Association (AWIA) or Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA).
  • Clear processes – Does the company have clear, documented information on how your project will proceed, what they will do and by when?
  • Expectations – Do they have a Customer Service Charter or an outline of their commitment to you? What are their expectations of you as the customer and what you need to provide before and during the project?
  • Listening – Do they listen to your needs? Are they asking questions that make you feel comfortable that they what to do what you need, not what they want or have done before? Are they really listening to you?
  • Clear & Simple – Do they explain everything in clear, simple language you can understand? The web industry is full of jargon and technical information, but there are simple ways to explain things without taking down to you.
  • Advice – Do they offer advice and information or are they a bit ‘secretive’?
  • Information – Do they have free planning guides, information sheets, etc. which you have access to?
  • Support – Do they provide ongoing support? Do they have options for different levels of support you may want in the future?
  • Training – Do they provide training and written instructions with their products, particularly with any content management systems (CMS)?
  • More for later – Do they provide options to add ‘modules’ to your website later as your business grows, such as e-marketing, a photo gallery, a Blog or more to full e-commerce?


© Article by Fiona Morsink-Ryan, Communications Director, Art Attack Web & Graphic Design, Sydney, Australia (www.artattack.com.au).

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