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Having a website that echoes out your brand is usually one of the steps required for any successful business. However, if you don’t have the knowledge, skills and resources to develop your own site then you will have to outsource the whole job to the experts. The trick comes when you have to choose your web design company because a quick search on Google for web design will give you more than 1.2 million results. Therefore sieving through this list can be daunting since you don’t know where to start from. Here are 5 essential things that you should consider before giving out the job to a specific web design company;

Branding: The company’s portfolio

Can I see your portfolio? This should always be the first question to ask any web design company. Any great company will definitely have a portfolio of sites that they are willing to showcase. You should also ask what considerations were put in place when designing the site and the specific functionalities that the customer needed in their site. By doing so, you can be able to judge whether they did a good job at replicating the customer’s brand into the site.

Design details

The next thing you should concentrate on is the design capability of the company. Most sites have to be responsive in nature in order to attract more users. You should therefore know exactly what features the web design company can use in the design of your site. Don’t worry with the tonnes of hard words that can be thrown around, the good thing nowadays is that you can simply make quick research on the internet in order to judge whether those features will be helpful to your site.

Technical competency

Well by now you should know whether that company can indeed handle your brand online and whether their design patterns are consistent with emerging technologies. In technical competency you should be willing to ask what technologies the company are used to in developing their sites and their ease of use or modification. You should also ask about their support and what exactly they are willing to offer whenever anything goes wrong. It is always advisable to have a backend created as well that can give more functionality in editing the site on your own rather than having to stare at code (especially if you don’t have any knowledge).

Website ownership

It is also good to know the legal issues behind ownership of the website. Generally the copyright is held under the designer of the website but most companies will usually pass this off to their clients as part of the contract.

Costs

Once you have been able to settle all the design, technical and legal aspects of the site, the last crucial component is the cost. There are a lot of hidden costs when it comes to web design and especially during maintenance. You should therefore ask about the cost of development as well as subsequent modifications and support (and whether the latter comes with the original package).

If all of the above responses are satisfactory to you, then you should be in a position to make a good choice on the web designers you want to pick.

Is it better to have a degree, or is it better to be self-taught? Which is more important: a formal education or on-the-job experience? This is an often-debated topic within the computer science field. In this post, I want to mention the common arguments for and against getting a formal education.

Proof of Character

Please understand that I’m not saying that people with degrees have better character or anything like that. All I’m saying is that some employers will look at a résumé that includes a college degree and will think, “This candidate finishes what he starts” or “This candidate will be able to handle a long-term project.” This is similar to the way an employer may react when she sees that an applicant used to be in the military. The employer may assume, “This applicant is disciplined.” I’m not saying that it’s an accurate assessment; I’m just saying that some people will judge you based on your education. In this way, a college degree can work in your favor. Does that make it worth spending tens of thousands of dollars on tuition costs? Maybe, and maybe not.

Lacks Real-World Experience

If you decide to take the tradition 4-year college route, this means that you will likely be out of the work force for four years while you are getting your degree. Instead of adding entry level work to your résumé, you will be adding an education. Some employers will accept one as a substitution for the other, while others will demand that you have several years of experience, regardless of your education level, before they will hire you. On the other hand, some employers will not promote you unless you have a degree.

Extraneous Information

If you check out the course catalog for any bachelor’s degree, you will see a ton of courses that have nothing to do with computers. Even if you’re looking at a computer science degree, you will still need dozens of credits in general education subjects. You will end up taking advanced math courses, learning about computer networks, and maybe learning programming languages that you will never actually use. Some people view this as a waste of time and money because not all classes will directly translate to the workplace. Others view it as an opportunity to get a well-rounded education.

Outdated

Throughout the course of history, technology has changed—from the wheel to the written alphabet to computers as we know them today. The rate of growth in the computer science field is greater than in any other field.Because of this, computer science degrees can become outdated rather quickly. It’s true that this happens in other fields as well. If a doctor has been out of medical school for 30 years, he will need to catch himself up on new developments in the field. A teacher who has been teaching for decades will periodically need to learn about new methods of instruction and assessment. Likewise, after receiving a computer science degree, a person will need to be diligent about staying up to date on new technologies. Having a degree on your résumé, especially if you have been out of school for a while, is not proof that you have current knowledge.

Despite any of the arguments for and against formal education, there are opportunities for you either way. If you find that you are really not a school person, that’s okay. There are companies who will hire self-taught web designers. Just make sure that your skillset shines through. This means you will need to have a stellar résumé and an impressive portfolio.

3 Things you have to learn by yourself about freelance web designing.

As I’ve said before, I’m an independent web designer. I went to school specifically for web design, and it did a pretty good job of preparing me for the technical demands of my job. However, there were some things that school didn’t prepare me for, and those are the things I want to talk about today.

Competition

Sure, I know how to design a web page. I’ve been doing it for decades. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to get work. There are so many options out there for people who need a web designer. There are beginners out there who will design a web page for cheap because they are in the “building a portfolio” stage. There are websites with names like cheapwebdesign.com (That’s not a real website—yet.) who have prices I cannot compete with. I’ve had to learn to set myself apart in other ways. It’s kind of like being a custom quilt maker. Why would someone buy a $300 quilt from me when they can get something similar from Walmart for $30? I’ve got to price myself right, and I’ve got to make my work worth the price.

Difficult People

I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before: “I’d love the job if it weren’t for the people.” Web design is an overlap of two fields that we think of as being very solitary—art and computer science. Depending on where you choose to work, that may be somewhat true, but there’s always the client, and there’s sometimes also the supervisor. Even if you strike out on your own as a freelancer, you’re still doing work for someone. You’ve got to know how to communicate with people, even difficult, demanding people. I’ve posted before about the complaints that I get from clients. That is my least favorite part of the job, but it’s something that I’ve learned to deal with because I love what I do.

Balance

As an artist, you’re a free spirit. You don’t like to follow rules. You want to catch people’s eyes, astonish them, and make them feel something. What you don’t want to do is organize a task list and plan out your workweek in 30 minute increments. Am I right? I know, because I’m like you. When you turn web design into a career, you’ve got to learn to do the bigger picture, organizational things. There is value in the ability to stay on task. You’ve got to organize your electronic files and make sure they’re backed up. You’ve got to be a reliable employee; after all, the job market is tough for a web designer. Don’t think that you’re escaping this requirement by being a freelancer. That will put even more demands on you. You will need to be your own CFO, keeping track of invoicing and more.

I don’t say any of these things to scare you. Heck, if I wanted to scare you, I could’ve written about my beginnings in tech support. Talk about difficult people! But, I digress. The point of this post was to teach you some of the facets of this career that you may not have considered before. These things completely caught me off guard, and I’d like to preparemy readers for the possibilities.

I still firmly believe that web design is an incredible career. I am passionate about my work, and I get to create new art all of the time! There aren’t many careers with steady income for creative types like us, and I feel lucky to have tapped into this particular market. The technology of our time has created a necessity for us, and we should be grateful for that.

When you build a web page there are several things to juggle, the code, where the page fits in the sitemap, how you’re going to get traffic to it and how you’re going to get that traffic to convert to sales after visiting your page. Here I’ll go over 5 of the top things to keep in mind for web pages to increase conversions.

Things to consider when designing a web page.

1. Be Clear

If visitors don’t know what the page is about, or can’t find the links to make a purchase or contact you, then they won’t. Remember most people are using the internet to make their lives easier, if you start to complicate things for them, they’ll go somewhere else. That won’t help your conversion rate.

Each page should be divided into clear sections, the main navigation should be in one area, the text and related pictures and diagrams in another. Use headlines to break up sections of text so people can quickly scan the page and know where to find the exact information they are looking for.

2. Tell Them What To Do

If you want people to sign up for your newsletter, tell them. If you want them to buy something, give them a clearly labeled button to push to make a purchase. This doesn’t mean that the call to action has to dominate the page, it just means it needs to be easy to find. Ideally you would employ both a text link and a graphic button on the page. I would also suggest that you place your call to action both above and below the fold of the page. As any sales person will tell you, calls to actions make conversions.

3. Make the text easy to read

The text on your page needs to be easy to read, that means that the main bodies of text will be written in a font that is easy to read, like Verdana or Times. Save the decorative fonts for short headlines. You will also want to make sure that the font color stands out against the background color, you won’t be using blue text on a green background.

4. Keep Content Relevant

Don’t be like your old aunt Betty and tell wandering stories and address fifteen different topics when you started out trying to explain one thing. If you have a page on Bass Fishing, don’t spend more than a sentence on outboard boat motors. Stay on topic. If you decide that you really want to go into boat motors, create another page and link to it from your bass fishing page. The people who clicked the link to get to your page did so expecting the information promised, not something else. If they feel that the information isn’t relevant to their interest they will leave.

5. Limit the number of Steps

Remember that the idea is to help people get to where you want them to be. Getting there should be simple, which means it should take as few steps as possible. Ideally a person should be able to get from any page on your site to any other page in four steps or less. The contact page and purchase page should take fewer steps. Ideally these two key pages should be reachable in one click.