The following is a fictional story which in reality occurs every day.
Linda and her partners have decided their business needs a web presence. Now comes the big question: Who can build it for them?
Who do they know who has experience with the internet? Maybe John, the computer guy, can do it. He is the one they call when the office network goes down or one of their computers give them problems. So Linda dials the number for John.
John has worked with computer hardware and networks for a long time. Having been laid off a year ago, he was thankful for Linda’s offer of some part time work. He decided to boldly take the job. Why not? After all, he has a blog and has dabbled with web design. And frankly, he needed the money.
Weeks later, John presents Linda with a web site but Linda is shocked because it was not what she had imagined. The site looked like it was built using a template from the 1990’s, which in “Internet years” is about 40 years behind the times. When the partners tried to find their site like visitors would, the site was nowhere to be found. When questioned, John had no satisfactory explanation why it wasn’t listed in the search engine pages.
The characters and the story are fictional. Sadly, similar stories play out like this every day. This doesn’t mean everyone who “knows computers” is automatically bad at web design. The reality is, to build a web site that looks good and functions well, you need a mish-mash of skills or group of people with different skills. You need someone who can code well so that the search engine robots will be able to locate your content easily. You may also need good graphics. Even if the design is minimalist, attractive graphics will be needed at some point. And, to get your site found online, you need people who know how to build incoming links, optimize each page, and all of that good stuff that’s called search engine optimization, or SEO for short.
Each of these aspects can be very intensive and require special skills and tools. Someone who is an expert at fixing computer hardware doesn’t necessarily have these skills. It is like asking the average pharmacist to do brain surgery. They know about medicine but are not qualified to operate. It works the same way for web design and that’s why the computer guy shouldn’t build your website.
So how do you find the right people?
Talk to fellow business owners who have web sites that work. Don’t just rely on eye candy and attractiveness. A beautiful site is no good if people can’t find you. Do a search. Visit the top listings. If you see what you like and they are coming up often in the search engines, contact the owners and ask them to refer you to their web design company. Remember home-grown talent. Seek out local companies and check out their portfolios.
Keep in mind, the Internet changes all the time. What worked a mere 5 years ago may not work today. When you find a company or designer who has been in the industry for a good length of time and is still keeping up with the latest and greatest, you’re on the right path.
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