If you have no experience with websites and are considering hiring a web designer you may have questions regarding the web development process. Although individual web designers will have their own personal style, the overall process includes the following:
Before embarking on a web design, a logo and colors are needed. A logo can be a stylized company name or a fully developed symbol representing your company. Ask your web designer if they are also a graphic designer or have a graphic designer on staff. If you already have a logo designed, read the "Logo Fonts, Colors, and EPS Files" blog entry for tips on what to give your web designer.
As the web evolves, the options for choosing the type of website expands. Discuss your needs with the web designer and ask them if they have experience in the type of web development that fits your requirements. Your needs might dictate a 10-page portfolio type website that can be developed using HTML and CSS by any qualified web developer. Or, you may want a flash site or a database driven eCommerce site. Each requires specialized programming
Ask the web designer to explain their particular design process. Will they send you a .pdf file of the web design? Or, perhaps they will post a private design test page for your review and approval. Will they accept feedback from you and how many rounds of edits are included in the contract?After the design has been approved, will they provide you time to review the completed site prior to posting it for the general public?
Obtain a written contract including a detailed scope of work, a fee and payment schedule, a timeline for completion, and standard contract conditions. Some web programming is not easily transferred from one server to another. It may be proprietary, or it may be prohibited by issues such as eCommerce PCI Compliance regulations. Take the time to understand which parts can and cannot be moved and why.
Website maintenance can be as simple as changing some text every few months to updating your products daily. A content management system will allow you to update the website yourself, if you are so inclined. Others prefer to have their web designer handle all maintenance issues and future enhancements such as adding pages and functions as your website needs evolve. Discuss your current and possible future needs with the web designer and ask them if they provide maintenance services. If not, ask them which programming languages they will use to build the site and if they have recommendations for others who provide web maintenance and know the same languages.
If you have already registered a domain (URL/Web Address) for your website, it can be pointed to any web server. If not, ask your web designer if they will register one for you. Also, read the "6 Tips for Choosing Your Domain" blog entry and search here to see if the domain you prefer is available.
Web hosting services provide website storage on a web server that is connected and available to the web 24/7. Email for the domain is typically included. Your web designer may provide hosting and email on in-house servers, may resell on servers elsewhere, or may place you directly with a hosting company. Hosting fees range from inexpensive self-serve pricing which will accommodate a small portfolio type website with not special functions to more expensive in-house pricing for custom functions that are database driven.
Most web designer will be happy to discuss this process with you and answer your questions. If not, find one who will!