How to hire the best Internet partner: Part III

Last month, I wrote about the types of Internet partners (website designer; website programmer; and Internet marketing consultant) present in the marketplace and what expertise they can specifically bring to your Web project. In this third installment of the series, let’s drill down a bit and talk about what types of questions you might like to ask a website designer when considering a partnership.

1.  Local or Remote: Because the work in question is electronically-based and because of innovative products such as:

  • Box.net and DropBox that make moving/sharing large files online easy;
  • Skype and FaceTime tools making face-to-face, real-time interaction an everyday occurrence; and
  • Free conference call services abounding…

There’s little reason why geography is an impediment with regard to vendor selection any more. Again, the primary issue at hand should be finding the best fit for your business or organization. In some cases, you may feel more comfortable just knowing that your designer is located around the corner (though you may go literally years never actually seeing each other!). Then again, you may not care one bit where they are physically if they’re responsive, caring, and competent.

What’s important is that you identify how much–or not–geography considerations factor. For instance, if you manage a non-profit organization or work for a college or institute, it may not be ideal working remotely with a vendor. In these environments, many important decisions are made ‘by committee.’ Therefore, it may serve the situation much better to have your vendor present at meetings to address questions, make suggestions, solve strategic issues and the like.

2.  Strategic Expertise: How interested in your business/organization is the website designer? How much do they ask about your efforts to date and the results thereof? Do they care about your business’ goals and timeline (one-, two-, and five-year plans)?  Do they have qualifications to correctly assess and consult with you in your future Internet plans? In a word, they should want to get to know you and your business intimately.

Remember, a website and its related SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) campaigns are likely an integral part of your entire marketing plan… do you really want to entrust that to someone who has little interest in your business and/or no experience in marketing? Pay attention to how much and what type of questions they ask; this will hint at whether they’re genuinely excited about working with you and your project.

3.  Portfolio: Look at the sites your potential vendor has designed. Do you like their style? Is there a consistent look and feel to the sites presented or is there some flexibility? If all of the sites sort of look the same but that look is precisely what you’re after… great! You can have confidence they can generate a site to your taste. Generally speaking though, it’s better to see a range of design approaches.

A range of looks tell you that the designer has done his/her homework and can design something memorable and appropriate for your business and its distinct target market. For instance, if your organization targets a senior population, you wouldn’t necessarily want a design that’s graphically complicated and contains very small type. Good design in the Internet space communicates and motivates the viewer to action, two qualities you cannot do without!

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Silvana Gravini is an Integrated Online Marketing Strategist with over 15 years extensive experience in website design, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO). For more information phone (413) 585-0985 or visit www.silvana.net.

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