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How to Choose Your Web Guy

by Stephan Goutoulli
The purpose of this article is by far not to say negative things about other web designers, or programmers, but instead to give website owners a few hints to help them find a designer that may better fit their needs. My hope in writing this article is to create savvier website consumers.

Many website owners are lost, confused and just plain “mystified” about the real purpose of a “web guy”, or web designer. The reason for this is because many designers are often too busy to promptly return emails or give encrypted answers to their client’s questions and concerns regarding their website design needs, its state, and generally what the client is going to gain from having a website.

A friend will suggest his webmaster: “My web designer is great, why don’t you give them a call? Tell them I sent you.” While this may sound like a wonderful idea, you should ensure yourself that your web designer will meet and exceed your “web needs”. You should use the same diligence you’d use if you had to find this person yourself.

So, here are several pointers that website owners should follow when choosing a web designer:

- Check references! Go to sites used as a reference by the web designer and email the owner. Ask questions and see if you get the similar, positive, feedback from the site’s owner.

- Don’t hesitate to check testimonials. In the same fashion you may check reference sites, you may also check testimonials. A quick email, or phone call, to the website’s owner may prove to be enlightening.

- Ask for background info. How long has the designer been in the business and what has he done? In other words, what is their competency and skill level? Is he or she part of any recognized relevant organization or association (International Webmasters Association…)?

- Check the status of the business with the county clerk. Is the designer’s business registered? In other words, know who you are dealing with. If you cannot confirm that the business exists, you should question its legitimacy. The Better Business Bureau may also have a file on the business.

- Is the web designer working full-time or is he designing websites at his leisure? The difference may greatly impact deadlines and how promptly changes are made. In this day and age, fresh content is vital to the success of any website and timely uploads are essential. Furthermore, he may not be up-to-date on the latest news and techniques.

- Where will your personal and website info be saved? Does the designer work in an office? At home? Who has access to the machine your info will stored in? A part-time designer who’s kid will also use the computer for music, video, and homework downloads will simply not be able to safeguard your information effectively, possibly leading to corrupted files and potential hacking of your website.

- The designer should upload all the code files at the end of the project. I’m mainly referring to “master” Flash files (or “.fla” files)
Monday, Jan 15th, 2007