Your website is often the first thing your customers see when they’re searching for a business or service on the web. As the face of your organization, your website needs to be attractive and functional, offering the latest features that users now expect. To plan and design a site that both reflects your company’s mission and values and appeals to customers takes a professional web designer. While free online services can help people set up websites, web designers can provide a unique solution made specifically to meet customers’ personal or business needs.
Most web designers offer a wide variety of services to make your website aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Modern web design must be mobile-friendly and scalable, capable of expanding to include a blog, social media sites, and even video streaming; web designers are experts at integrating various web technologies. They can build the site, add functionality, test it, launch it on a live server, and track and maintain its performance.
In addition to web design and graphic design, some web design providers also offer development and security services, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and management, logo design, site maintenance, domain registration and hosting, protection against malware, and digital marketing and content services.
A good app developer can help you if your company wants to build a new mobile app for customers but you don’t have an IT or development team on staff. First, decide whether you want an app made for the iPhone or Android phones or both, then start your search by finding an app developer with expertise in your chosen platform. Ask for samples of their work, such as code samples, that can be tested on open source repository sites like GitLab and GitHub. You can also interview firms that specialize in mobile app development for small companies or startups; they should be able to offer examples of different types of apps they’ve built, and are likely to have expertise in a range of technologies and platforms. Before you sign a contract, make sure to ask prospective app developers these questions:
- What other apps have you developed? Make sure the apps in their portfolio reflect the type of work you want to have done for your company. It’s especially helpful if they understand your industry.
- What technology and development services do you offer? Ideally, an app developer will conduct a business analysis, develop the app, perform quality testing and make sure the launch is successful.
Will you maintain the app after it’s launched? Releasing an app is only the beginning. You’ll need someone to maintain it too, releasing updates and fixing bugs.
A professional web designer creates the look and feel of your website, collaborating with you to choose colors, creating logos and other branding materials, establishing page layouts, and creating sample pages. An important part of web design is making sure the site is functional, meets your goals, and is easy for users to navigate. When you’re looking to hire a web designer, start by reviewing the person’s portfolio. Look for samples of work that match what you envision for your website, including experience building the types of pages or features you want. Make sure the web designer is familiar with your industry and understands both industry trends and web design trends — an old-fashioned or out-of-touch site will turn customers away rather than intrigue them.
Because web designers tend to work as freelancers on a project basis, they must be excellent communicators, willing to manage their own work, and available on your schedule. Some critical skills, such as working collaboratively and responding enthusiastically to feedback, aren’t core to good web design, but make working with a web designer much easier. Finally, look for a web designer who has cross-functional knowledge, such as understanding marketing and conversion rate optimization in addition to web design.
The average cost for hiring a web designer varies greatly depending on the scope of the work, which may range from building a site from scratch to rebranding an existing one, as well as the amount of content and graphics the designer will create. In general, the more complex the project, the more time the design agency will have to spend. Because web designers often work on an hourly basis, the longer the project, the higher the costs; you can count on the web designer spending at minimum 10 hours to create a very basic website with just a handful of pages with few elements. Prices also depend on the designer’s skill set, the process, and the company’s rates. In general, the national average cost for a basic website package starts at $500, but a customized website can cost as much as $2,000 or more. Here are typical average hourly rates, broken out by the complexity of the work:
- Basic layout and user interface: $15-$40 per hour
- Content management system design: $20-$50 per hour
- Custom website design with custom code: $45-$75 per hour
The web design company you choose must be able to interpret your company’s mission and identity and turn it into an appealing website that connects with potential customers. They must help you reach your target audience and meet your business goals. A web design agency should have on staff both talented web designers, with fresh ideas and extensive technical and creative skills, and a marketing team that knows how to drive traffic to your site, encourage visitor engagement, and convert visitors into customers. Web designers should be able to build in search optimization and integrate your site with a content management system and e-commerce tools. Look, too, for a website design company that understands responsive design and can optimize your website for mobile devices and desktop browsers. The right web design company understand current design and website trends, has experience building sites in a variety of industries (not just yours), and has an expansive portfolio of live websites. Finally, don’t simply hire the cheapest bidder — in web design, as in all things, you get what you pay for.