Enjoy Your Life! Build Your Business! Have Your Way!
I wrote this post for my blog, but since decided the Indie Social Network would be the most beneficial place for its publication:
Several months ago I announced here, and in our newsletter, that we were designing a new website. After a lot of thought, we decided to put a halt to the project.
As a business owner I learned a lot through the design process:
Why am I sharing all of this? I do not need to. No explanation is needed at all.
I do want to share the experience, however, with other small business owners that may be considering a website, or a re-design. Think all of these points through before you lay down any dollars, and once you lay down your dollars, stick to your guns.
I recommend you shop around for other independant small business web-designers. A good site to look for one (especially if you handcraft your products) is the Indie Business Network (IBN) (http://indiebeauty.com/). I am a (very supportive) member of IBN.
Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps - Smell and Feel the Goodness!
Great tips, Mary! Bottom line: trust your own instincts and ideas!
Mary - well said. I've spent thousands over the years on website design and development - with nothing or little actually delivered. It is so important to talk with numerous designers/developers. Like you, learned a lot through my not so good experiences.
1. Designers are not the same as web designers. Look for someone who is experienced in both areas.
2. Make sure you like the websites they have already developed. If you don't like the websites in their gallery, most likely they are not the one for you (advice Donna Maria always stresses).
3. Do they update the site regularly (back-end software to most recent version) without you having to nudge them. Generally speaking, unless you've been in the software industry (I have), you may not know this is needed, even if it is a template type background.
4. If you get a designer and a developer separately, make sure your discussions with them are held as a group. Otherwise, design or development issues can crop up.
5. Find out what future changes you may want to make would fundamentally change the structure of the website. Structure changes can be expensive. A little planning and questioning ahead of time can prevent unexpected pain down the road.
6. Mary is right on about the support. You want someone you can talk to directly, not just via a support ticket or e-mail.
7. Up front, you will generally get decent support - they want your business. Be on the lookout for a lag in responsiveness thereafter. If that occurs - drop them.
8. If there is a contract involved, make sure you have responsiveness in the contract.
I could go on, but won't.
Great advice, Ricci!
Great tips here! None of want to spend a pile of hard earned money only to end up with something that is NOT us or doesn't do our brand justice.
The thing to remember when you hire someone to do this or anything else for you is that THEY WORK FOR YOU, not the other way around. They should be able to deliver what you ask for. If they try to make you think differently or become a burden on your time and attention, then ditch 'em and get someone who can feel your vision and deliver it to you in a reasonable time frame and in a professional and helpful manner. Don't spin your wheels trying to work it out.
I wholeheartedly second the recommendation to look here first before going anywhere else for your website design and building need. Indies know the indie ways!
Great advice everyone!
What I have enjoyed with my website redesign is how my webdesigner does understand the industry and that she was able to help me see that adding color to my logo and website is a good thing. I was playing it safe but the truth is my site is now looking like a spa site, a site where if someone who owns a spa would want to add my products to their store. It also looks professional and not so much like the template it once was.I enjoyed the pushes, gentle as they are, to keep me moving forward. We have set a deadline as to when to complete the site because it is time to launch it. Hopefully this weekend I can finish my stuff up and soon enough I will be announcing a new launch date!!
Naturally Good Soaps, LLC
Melissa - Sounds like you are pleased with your web designer. What a relief, yes? Good luck on your launch, and we will all be looking forward to it.
Thanks Ricci for that. I hope to launch soon but of course it is finding the time to sit down and do the last minute things it needs.
Melissa, I am excited for you and NGS. I cannot wait to see your newly launched site. It sounds like your website will be a great example of how to select a website designer that meets your business needs.
Thanks Mary..It has been fun and exciting all at the same time. I think it is so pretty and modern looking that it can appeal to a wider audience.
Ooohhh!!!!! The anticipation!!!!!! You're driving me to the brink over here! I may just have to dive into the java pot! LOL...Seriously so excited for you, Melissa! This is a year of change for many and it is THE YEAR OF THE INDIE!
It sounds like you have found the design that represents Naturally Good Soaps, Melissa. I am elated for you.
There is nothing like customers that say, "Your website had a lot to do with me finding you, and choosing you and your products." Those comments stick, like glue.
Can I just say how timely this post is? I have been burned numerous times by designers/web designers who promise the sun, moon, and stars and then can't even deliver dirt!!! I can't stress how important it is to find a web designer that is RESPONSIVE! And get's updates done in a timely manner. I have been trying to make updates to my site for 6 months and my designer is in an out of conciousness. I've tried 3 others before him and they are all very flaky. As a business owner, I can not understand why someone would put that much effort into getting business and then blow it? For the last month, my current designer has been unreachable via text, email, phone. I finally get an email last week saying he was burnt out and needed to take a vacation! Really? I told him that I can totally understand that, but it's important to make sure you have someone steering the ship when you're gone or it's gonna sink and let your customers know that no one is steering! Rediculous!!!
Another thing I would advise is to make sure the work is done here and not abroad. I used a firm with my last business that outsourced some of their work to designers in Europe. This resulted in delays to requests, etc.
Anyhow, I am looking for a new designer. So if any of ya know of someone that deals in PHP/Linux sites thats NOT brain dead...please let me know?!;) Thanks!