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Draw up a shortlist
Draw up a shortlist of 3 or 4 designers to speak to. You can do this by visiting their websites, getting a feel for type and size of business they are and looking at their online portfolio. Then call them – ask them questions about type of clients they work for, timeframes and any other technical questions you have. Get a feel for how they communicate – whether they are on same wavelength as you.
If you opted to go overseas, websites already mentioned have ratings systems which can help you decide, and you can also send and receive private messages to ask questions.
Once you have your shortlist, you can get quotes. For a straightforward website this can be a simple fixed price – for a more complicated project that is likely to evolve, you may just want to get a budget price at this stage, and then pin down details and a fixed price with your preferred bidder later. Always specify your expected timeframe for completion when obtaining quotes as this can affect prices.
Once you have your preferred bidder, get references. Any established web designer will be able to provide details of satisfied clients. Email them and ask if they were happy with service received, if job was completed on time, how unforeseen problems were dealt with etc.
Remember to trust your instincts: If you are not entirely happy with references you obtain, walk away and select another designer.
Appoint your web designer
You now have a fixed price, references, and confirmed timescale for your project. Now appoint your designer!
Most have standard agreements –read them carefully, and if in doubt get your legal adviser to look them over. Make sure timescales and project milestones are specified, as well as payment terms. Find out how alterations to your project are dealt with – in terms of cost and delays – and how disputes if they arise would be settled.
Finally, when you are completely happy, sign on dotted line and look forward to a productive working relationship with your web designer!
© 2005 Robin Porter.
Robin Porter has been CEO of of London based web designer Arpey Internet (http://www.arpey.co.uk) for over six years.