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Old 19th July 2006, 12:10 PM   #1

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Cleveland, OH
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Question I think I Need a Website Design Consultant

OK, I've read how to choose a website designer (there was no way I was going to do it myself, fancy software or no). I like them, and they have great references, lots of experience and a money back guarantee.

But these are tech guys. They don't seem to "get" my design vision for the site (such as it is). It's like we're speaking different languages. And going back and forth with them has made me doubt my own ideas.

So I read every article I could find on this website about how to design a website that attracts people and converts them to customers. I learned how colors make you feel, I learned things about layout, and about every other detail you can imagine. And it hasn't helped. Now I feel even MORE confused. I'm not a stupid person, but now I have TMI syndrome --"Too Much Information." I'm still not prepared to communicate with the design team.

I think I need a Website Design Conultant. I want to do this site the "right" way the FIRST time. I want the right colors, the right design, the right layout. (OK, OK, I *know* there is someone out there who is going to on about how there is no "one correct way" or whatever--but I would like a really, really GOOD website--OK?)

So how do I figure out who to hire to help me? I tried one place and nobody returned my call or my e-mails--that's gotta be a bad sign...

My website is (going to be) an e-commerce site that also represents a physical retail store (a small mom & pop place--I'm the Mom). We've got that "niche" thing everyone talks about covered. I've got a decent budget--but not a huge one. Where do I turn? What do I look for?

Thanks in advance for any replies!

Eastern Genuines, Ltd

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Old 21st July 2006, 08:24 AM   #2

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There are a ton of designers out there - as you know...
If the ones you are working with aren't listening to you, or hearing you - no difference in the end - then find someone else to work with.

A good designer will also handle the programming (building) of your site - so finding someone, or a team, that can manage it all in one go is to your benefit.

We offer these services - at a very reasonable hourly fee - we work mostly with small businesses ourselves, so have scaled the invoicing to fit that group.

I'd be interested in learning more about your vision for the site, etc.
Do you have a domain all set up?

Talk to you soon

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Old 21st July 2006, 11:22 AM   #3
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Leej I want to assure you there are web designers who you can talk to and help sort through some of that information overload. I like to think I'm one of those that can speak a language other than techie. I think the best approach is to keep contacting designers until you find one you feel comfortable working with.

Many designers will work with your vision. It is your site after all and you need to be the one to make the final decisions on many things. It's important to remember sometimes that when a designer is trying to steer you away from your vision it may be because through experience there's a better way. I always try to help my clients understand why something may or may not work and then let them decide.

You sound like someone who would be a very good client. You've done your homework and I think you understand a lot about how the whole process will work. Having done some research will help you see through some of the lines a designer might give you in order to sell you. I know it can be difficult to sort though all that information and find someone, but just keep at it. You will find someone who you are comfortable working with.

You mentioned wanting to make sure to do everything right from the start. It's a great goal, but not everything will be as simple as right or wrong, which you've already pointed out. Some of the design decisions will be a judgement call, but if you find someone who knows what they're doing they can build you a site that's easy to change should you decide you would like to try something in a different direction.

Websites aren't just a static thing that's done once and left untouched. I think of them as living, breathing things that grow with you as you learn more about what works for your particular business and site.

Getting back to your original and main question I think you just need to keep at it. You contacted one company and they didn't get back to you. I agree that's not a good sign. But don't give up. Keep contacting more. If you know people who have worked with a desginer ask them for recommendations and for their experience. Since you're a mom and pop business maybe you want to work with someone locally. Explore sites you do like and see if you can find out who designed and developed those sites.

Just don't let one bad contact stop you from looking for more. There are designers out there that will work return your calls and emails and who will work with you and not against you. There are even quite a few here on the forum.

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Last edited by vangogh; 10th October 2006 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 21st July 2006, 07:34 PM   #4

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Take a look at a company called Logoworks. They do fantastic design and their prices are very reasonable. Keep in mind, I didn't use them for my site as I made my own but they are raved about. I instantly thought of them when I read your post because of their own story of how they got started. It's a very similar story in fact.

Basically, the owner went to have a logo designed and it was a nightmare, mainly because the people did not understand what he wanted and then ignored his requests. He started his own company later to combat this.

They've been featured in many magazines and are one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.

Just my $0.02

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Old 21st July 2006, 08:05 PM   #5
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Just a couple of moments here.

What you have learned about design while reading articles may not coincide with what most designers know. Depending on the quality of articles you have read, you either think you know something or know more than most web designers do (about website usability, for instance - how many designers consider usability?).

So in essence, you'll need to find a designer that will understand what you want. You'll need to tell him what your goals are, what impression you want your site to make on your visitors, what type of information you want to have on your website and see what kind of a response you get.

If the designer says something like "Alright, I understand where you are coming from. Can you point at a couple of sites that you like so I understand the style you need?" or "I am a designer and I know for myself what to do" or somewhere inbetween.

Just don't think that the first designer you find is the best one. Find the one you feel comfortable communicating with.

Another moment is that designers (and other people, too) don't like when you tell them what exactly to do. You can tell your designer how the site should feel, what it should have (a product catalogue and a shopping cart, etc) and what information you want to store there.

If you do tell your designer something specific (like you want to use a 12px Verdana font), you'll have to explain why you want it (because 12px is good on the eyes - easy to read and Verdana is a special font just for the Web).

In general, just deal with the designer you want to be dealt with and everything will be fine. Just remember that your search doesn't end with the first e-mail.

You probably don't need to hire a website designer consultant but simply need some advice how to handle designers, that's all

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Old 27th July 2006, 08:52 AM   #6

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Hello Leej,

I agree with everyones suggestions. The worse thing I hate is lack of communication. It makes me angry when businesses never return your phone calls or emails.

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Old 27th July 2006, 11:48 AM   #7

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In your situation the first thing I would do is make up some sample mock up designs yourself. Grab the crayons if needed, but if you are just talking in general terms you may continue to be frustrated. If you define what you want done, then take it to a web designer to improve drastically based on their profound expertise compared to yours ... the two of you will have a mutual starting point for your conversation that you can physically point to and discuss....versus many subjective things that you may be having difficulty communicating (most likely because of poor listening and asking the right questions on the web developers part). A picture is worth a thousand words. Create your own visual presentation of the site and then provide as much detail/content about the sites content and functionality requirements. You can provide almost all of the project details - you know best what you want ... you are the expert in your business ...

By doing this you will display to the developer you are ready to go, save them a lot of time, and save yourself development money by cutting to the chase and defining in writing/visually what you 'think you want'.

If you are off base, the web designer can use this to focus on those issues and explain why they suggest the alternative and the reasoning. If you disagree, its your choice.

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Old 9th September 2006, 03:49 AM   #8
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Logans idea was the thing to do. When I designed I would use Pantone charts and colour wheels so the customer could select colours they liked LOOOOONG before we spoke of the way the site would look.

You might be going about tit the wrong way though. On building a site, you need to remember who you are building it for. This is something I used to stress on my clients (we no longer do design, only as part of SEO overhaul). I as a designer did NOT build a site for you as my customer, I buiold it for YOUR customers. Sites that are built to customer specs will often be too personal and will alienate the very people they are meant to attract!

Sit down and look at what YOUR Customers will want. Forget about yourself for a minute. If you have an interest in the subject, then there is a chance you will have experienced websites . Write down first the things you HATE! this will guide a designer almost as much as the things you like.

As I sit here Lottie is watching the sound of music, and they are singing that there do ray me song. " lets start at the very beginning" . In Web design and marketing this is 100% correct. the beginning of every life is conception, and the children that are conceived with thought and planning have a better chance in life than those conceived in a one night stand with a stranger! (I am talking average chance here of course and am not condemning anyone).

The FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do is to work out the reason for living of your website. if you do not do this, in detail then you will struggle along the way.

reason for living? TO SELL PRODUCTS
now it is a simple question along the way. w"will this help or hinder my end goal"? Complete flash site please! Sorry but the search engines can not fully parse flash, so this will harm your spidering, your search engine exposure, your traffic and your sales! So how about we go with standard markup, and flash elements?

DO you see where I am coming from here?

Learn the technicalities of spidering and if NOTHING else, make sure your site can be spidered.

Shall I tell you what is the most important elements for your online success? If you intend to have success based mainly on organic traffic, then therse are the main ones

Spiderability, Usability, content.

If you get those three elements right, you have something to build on. On NO ACCOUNT should you sacrifice Usability and spiderability, because it will be the kiss of death to your organic rankings, and you can resign yourself to PPC for ever.

So learn about spidearbility and usability, then get the crayons out, get the colour charts out, pick colours that work with your subject matter and get the site built.

Old Bald & Stupid, but more than compensated for by being born Welsh.
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Old 9th September 2006, 01:52 PM   #9

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Default The ultimate goal.

I myself do not have much experience in web design, but in my opinion a good web designer will listen to your ideas,and work with your ideas in combination with theirs, but you have to keep in mind that they are the profesinals. Therefor you have to be flexable and in return listen to their ideas as well. I am sure since you are paying them that they have your intrest in mind. Making somthing attractive is not always the key sometimes it is in the wording and how it is set up, How it POPS out at you.My suggestion to you is "even if you can not draw" Make a small sketch of your idea for them to fallow, and remember the finished product may not look anything like what you want but as long as it serves its perpose they did their job.

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Old 3rd October 2006, 08:58 AM   #10
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how can "code" be poor? what is an example of "poor code"?

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