With more customers shopping online, a growing number of independent retailers are looking at how they can access this potentially lucrative market. Whether it is refreshing an existing website or starting a new one, how to select the right website design company is one of the most commonly asked questions Where do you start? Well, here are some essential points to consider to help make the right choice first time:

1. Find the right team

There are several essential roles in website design. Understanding these will help you find a good company. If web design is new to you, it can help to think of it in terms of car designer. Here is what to look for.

  • Firstly, you have the marketer. This person will want to understand who the target market is. With this in mind they will pull together a design brief to make the vehicle a perfect fit for the type of people who will buy it. How should it look? How fast should it go? How firm should the ride be? This design brief will be focussed around the desires of the target market.
  • Secondly, you have the bodywork designers who will have an education in art. They will design the look based on the brief from the marketer. If this is done well, the end result will appeal to the target market, whether it is a spacious people carrier, fashionable Mini or a sporty Ferrari.
  • Thirdly, you have the engineers. They design the engine and the chassis and give the car its handling and performance. Engineers have analytical minds, a technical education, good at problem solving. If the engineers do their jobs, the car will be a pleasure to drive.

Each role in this team requires a different type of person. Any weaknesses or gaps in the team will produce a weaker end product. When you have a website developed, the same three roles are essential. Here’s why.

The first stage of a website design should start with a discussion with the marketer. They should be asking questions to really understand what your website should look like and what its objectives are. For example: “Who are you planning to sell to?”, “What are the brand values you want to portray?”. The marketer will then create a design brief to make your website fit the market you are selling to, just like they would with a car.

The second stage is with the arty designers. They will create a flat design; that is, a picture of your website. You will get to review this and should feel comfortable to go back with any changes. TIP: Don’t forget, when working with designers don’t just feedback the negative points, start by telling them what you like about their (precious) design! They will then respond much better to the criticisms and this will give you a better end result.

The third stage is with the engineers. They will cut your website design out from the flat image and engineer it into a shopping engine. The shopping engine is the bit that creates your product page when you add a new item, it’s the payment and checkout facility. It’s the bit that will notify you when you get a sale. Most web design companies have their own favourite shopping engine or they will have created their own.

So the engineers will take your flat design and turn it into a wonderful interactive eCommerce website by implementing it into the shopping engine.

TIP: Establish who the person is for each of these roles and find out how you interact with them during the design.

TIP: Get three reference sites and talk to them. Key questions should be: Who was involved in your website design? How efficient was the design process? What is the percentage of visitors against purchases (conversion rate)? Would you recommend this company?

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