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How to Choose a Web Designer
and how not to

Web Designers - can't live with 'em, can't understand a word they're saying

You want to build a web site. You've got a vision, a business plan, or maybe just a vague idea. Everything you read, see, and hear tells you that your business NEEDS a website, and it needs to be up and running by last Tuesday. You've chosen a hosting company, chosen an available domain name, and you're good to go. There's just one final minor detail to work out:

You haven't the faintest idea how to make one. You couldn't pass a multiple choice test on HTML tags versus dog tags, PERL is something you find in an oyster, and when someone says, "Simply FTP into your Linux shell to upload the graphics files as binaries and the HTML as ASCII," you feel an irrational urge to hit somebody.

You need to find a designer.

Making a web page is cheap and simple. Making an effective business web presence, however... that's another story entirely.

Think about it. If you built yourself a brick-and-mortar store, based on the most brilliant plan unequalled by the most rabid Wharton MBA, would you have the signage painted in watercolors? Would you trust the interior layout that your customers must navigate, the cash registers, your own accounting system... would you entrust these vital elements to the first fancy-talkin', buzzword-spewing stranger that passed by your front door?

I sincerely hope not.

Don't let anyone fast-talk you about your site, the web, or what they're doing. Think of it like getting your car fixed: startlingly few people really know what's going on under the hood, and people are intimidated when it comes to questioning their mechanic about that mysterious $500 part that "had to" be replaced when they came in for an oil change. Remember, these people work for you: they are your employee(s). If they can't communicate to you in plain English (or other native language) what they're doing and why, move on. They may in fact know what they're doing, but you won't, so how can you be sure? Additionally, how will you keep your business needs met without proper communication?

With these ideas firmly in mind, you're now ready to go hunting around for someone to work with (emphasis on with: their goal should be to help fulfill your vision, after all). Web coders, designers, and graphic artists are literally falling from the sky, especially here in Philly, MartNet's home. Don't be afraid to talk to dozens of them before committing. Anyone who tries to rush you or pressure you should probably be avoided!



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