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How to hire a web designer or developer

01 Dec 2010

Finding a web designer isn’t hard; a quick Google search and you will find thousands of design companies within New Zealand. Looking at a company’s past work you will quickly determine which designers suit your aesthetic and work with similar sized businesses with similar objectives.But how do you then go about ensuring your project is a successful one?1. Get your feet wet, before jumping inWeb designers are good at selling the sizzle, but ultimately they don’t have to make your website work financially. For example, if you run an established business that can leverage a website to better support existing customers, then investing thousands is generally well worth it. However, if you are just starting out or have a vague notion that you ‘need to be online’, you should carefully consider how much you invest in your first effort. If you dive head-on into a website that turns out to be the wrong strategy or incorrectly executed, your budget and appetite to correct the problems will greatly be reduced compared to testing the waters and improving with each update.2. Recommendations and referrals Accept these only from people who have handed over cold, hard cash to get a website built. Ask about how they found the process, the costs involved, and whether they are happy with the result achieved. 3. Commercial agreementsOnce you have found a web designer, it is time to sort out the what, the who and the when. What is being designed, developed and delivered? Who is responsible for content, pictures and other elements of the site, and when should features be delivered, the project completed and paid for?There are also important questions around who owns what: for example, would you be happy to discover that whilst you own your website and content, you don’t have the ability to move the software it runs on to a new designer, or that the software you commissioned is in fact open source?4. Get a handle on the basicsSome designers use their own proprietary systems while others use open source software; some require you use their web hosting, others don’t mind if you provide your own. If you don’t know what any of that means, you need to do some reading. Either option has long-term impacts on your website. For example, a non-profit client recently invested more than $20,000 in their website for which they had government funding, only to find the required proprietary hosting platform would cost in excessive of $10,000 per year... for which they did not have any funding or budget!