It can feel overwhelming when trying to figure out who to hire to build your website. Here are a few things I suggest that you look for when interviewing potential web designers:
1. Find someone who works with a Content Management System (CMS), WordPress or Joomla are two popular choices. With a CMS you will have access to your website, which will allow you to make changes on your own and also, if something happens to your relationship with the designer, your site won't be held hostage.
2. Ask them about search engine optimization (SEO). Building a site that is not optimized for the search engines is like buying a dining room table without the chairs.
3. Ask about mobile and iPad compatibility. Mobile is huge, you can't ignore it, there is no point in using dated technology. A designer should have samples of sites optimized for mobile.
4. Ask about payment: a deposit, payment at the halfway point and final payments are pretty standard. I would use caution if anyone asks for full payment before they even begin.
5. Own your domain name. Designers can easily purchase this for you, but have them use your credit card to insure that you maintain control over the URL.
6. Choose someone you can trust. You want someone who knows what they are talking about in the greater arena of web design (why blogs are useful, why do you need to be engaging in social media, which newsletter service works for your business, etc). If you are working with a larger firm, your contact person may not be the person executing all of the work, do you have access to the team and do they all understand your vision?
7. Pick someone you like. You don't have to be best friends with your web designer, but you don't want to cringe when you see their number on caller ID.
There isn't a perfect answer, but you should be armed with questions. We all want websites that look great, no argument; however, I wouldn't for a moment compromise, hire someone who understands SEO. It is really is mandatory that your site built with an infrastructure of optimization, a site map, and it is submitted to search engines.
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