It seems that everyone, from a 15 year old to their grandmother, can build a website these days. However there is a huge difference between a personal website and a business website. I see people who, with the help of a friend or relative, will spend months trying to put together a site for their business only to get a site that is not browser compatible, poorly designed, is slow loading, and have numerous errors in the code. Going this route will not produce a productive business site, and it will not gain customers.

If you are serious about your business and want to present a professional appearance for your company then you’ll need a qualified web designer who is experienced at programming raw HTML code. Keep in mind that software alone does not make for an attractive website, and graphic software expertise is required to produce clean photos, and web graphics that are optimized for quick loading. Here are some of the things you should look for when choosing a web designer to develop your web presence.

Before you do anything else, decide what kind of website you want; will it be an informational site, one that will grow with your business or an ecommerce. You can search for inspiration by getting on-line and visiting sites in and out of your industry. Take notes that include the type of content you’d like to provide and the functionality of your website to present to a web designer. Having done some of the preliminary work beforehand will be much more cost effective in the long run.

To find web designer professionals, use techniques similar to those you’d use to hire any other type of contractor. You can ask colleagues for references, turn to an on-line directory to locate a professional in your area, or contact the designer of a specific site you like the look and feel of. It’s not necessary to hire someone in your area, since you can view the site on-line as it is being built. But if you feel more comfortable with face-to-face contact, then by all means choose a professional in your area.

Look at the designer’s own website. If they can’t effectively market their own services through the web, how will they market yours? Look at their past work, and phone references. Ask about timelines, what the designer did well and not so well.

Find out how long the person or business has been designing websites. If its only been a short time then they may not be familiar with the technologies available and may not be around to take care of your future needs.

Contact the designer and see how long it takes them to respond. If it takes a long time, this may be a good indication of what future contact with them will be like. Make sure you’re able to communicate well with the designer.

Follow these tips in choosing a web designer and you can be reassured your marketing dollars are being well spent on design and support that will contribute to the ongoing success of your business.