Hopefully, by following the tips we've laid out so far and carefully examining a web designer’s portfolio – both on the surface and "under the hood" – you’ve been able to narrow your search down to a few quality candidates.
Now, it's time to get to the part of the process you've probably been anticipating all along: you go back and talk to them.
Don't just let them tell you what they think you want to hear, however. Finding the right Web partner in Dubai is as much about asking the right questions, and setting the right expectations, as it is anything else. Here are a few things you'll want to know before you sign on the dotted line:
How much will the site cost? As we mentioned in the first post, there's really no set standard for fees; what seems low for one firm would be outrageous for another. With that in mind, it's important that you are perfectly clear about how much you're paying… and what you are getting for your money.
What technical features are included? It’s important to specify whether things like a Content Management System (CMS) are part of the package, whether they are original or proprietary, and so on. A great deal can become a terrible waste of money – or vice versa – depending on the fine print.
How much time will be put aside for your project? A medium sized website should probably take around four to six weeks to build. So, if they say yours will be ready in a week or two, beware.
What does your gut say? Of course, this isn't something a designer or creative team can answer for you, but it is perhaps the most important question. When you sit down to meet with your team, do they seem honest? Do you like their approach, and can you see yourself working with them for an extended period of time? These might seem like obvious questions, but lots of clients will toss them aside in order to meet budgets and time frames. Given that your website is an incredibly important marketing tool – and that you'll probably be stuck with this designer for a while, for better or worse – it’s a bad idea to ignore that feeling in your stomach.
All of us at Blue Beetle would like to wish our clients, associates and their families our best wishes for the holiday period. May you enjoy a blessed festival.
If you were able to check a web designer’s sites for W3C compliance and want to go even further under the hood, there are a few more things you can look for in their samples. Although some of the terms might seem a bit technical, you don’t have to fully understand what you are looking at to be able recognize certain characteristics. Here are two important questions to ask:
Are their websites coded using table-less techniques? The only thing you have to know about designing with tables is that it was once a very popular technique, but isn’t acceptable for a professional solution these days. Most of the designers still using them are either very inexperienced, or lack the coding skills to stay with the times – either way, it spells trouble for your site.
To check for tables, just right click on empty space somewhere on the sample page and select: “View Page Source” or “View Source.” You can also access the command from the menu at the top. It could be worded or placed differently on your browser, but it should be easy enough to find.
Scan the HTML code that comes up and look for a lot of these: ‹table› or ‹tr›; or ‹td›. Seeing more than a couple indicates that the site may be built with tables, and that you should be looking elsewhere for help.
Are their websites well optimized for search engines? Frankly, this isn’t going to be all that obvious to the naked eye. Still, there are a few things worth looking at, like whether the site has search engine friendly URL’s (something like www.websiteaddress.com/about-us is good; seeing www.websiteaddress.com/?id=294 isn’t). You can also check to see if each page on the site seems unique, and whether they have titles (the text that appears at the top of your browser) that describes them well and accurately. Or, you could even view the page source code again and look for tags like ‹h1› and ‹h2›, since these indicate that the content has been properly structured.
As we mentioned, a trip “under the hood” of a sample website isn’t going to be a familiar experience for most people who are evaluating web designers and firms. By taking the time to examine these clues, however, you can go a long way toward figuring out what sort of value you’re going to get for your money.