Finding a qualified web designer to ensure your business website attracts your target customers and converts traffic to sales can feel like a Herculean task. How does a business owner sort through all the options to get the right web design team — for the right price?

To start, make sure you have a good idea about what you want your site to do and what features you want to incorporate. With a checklist of desired functions, you can then begin your search for a web designer to make it happen. Here are some do’s and don’ts for conducting a search and selection process for web design services:

Do’s

·         Search Online for possible candidates: Peruse the web for web design companies and browse the portfolios of companies that interest you. Take an especially close look at how the example sites incorporate the features that are most important to your site. But don’t stop there. Visit the sites in the design portfolios of candidate design firms to see if the businesses are still using the design.

·         Call a few companies to talk about the design work: If you are especially impressed with a particular example in the web designer’s portfolio, pick up the phone or send off an email to find out how the business liked working with the design team. Ask how the site is working out and if they’ve needed any follow-up interaction with the design team. Would these businesses hire the company again?

·         Interview candidate companies: Approach the hiring process as you would for a staff position on your team. Ask web design companies tough questions to ensure you know their strengths and weaknesses. Make sure they have experience with the type of site you hope to get — and that the team is enthusiastic about that type of work.

·         Develop a budget range: Before you make a hiring decision, develop a budget range so you know what you can spend on your web design project. Talk with your finalist candidates about this range and find out what they’re willing to do for the money you have available to spend.

·         Carefully review the contract: Before signing a contract to hire a prospective designer, understand the details. Make sure you will own the final site design and graphic elements, know what exactly the team will provide you, when the site will be live, how much and when you need to pay for the services and any other pertinent details of the partnership.

Don’ts

·         Rely on too few options: Do your homework and explore the range of possibilities. Don’t settle for the first company you find or the first design team you hear about.

·         Take a candidate’s word for experience: Be sure that the company you hire is versed in meeting your site’s objectives. Whether you need your site to improve conversions, enhance your email subscriber list, build brand awareness through traffic or meet some other objective, be sure the team you hire understands these needs and can prove they know how to meet those needs.

·         Make assumptions about the complexity of your project: When you begin talking with potential designers about your project, simply explain your wants and needs and let the candidate companies tell you how difficult or easy the various aspects may be to implement. Terms like site architecture and navigation strategy can seem like scary elements to non-designers, but these are routine for professional web designers.

·         Overlook the importance of “fit”: Working with a web design team can be a great experience or a miserable process. When selecting a company to help you develop a terrific web presence, make sure you choose a group that communicates well, listens to your needs, and seems fun to work with.

Depending on your specific company and site needs, you may need to address other factors. At the end of the day, the important thing is that the web design team you hire for your business site understands your objectives and has the expertise to develop a design that supports your success — even if that requires them to guide you through the development process.