Communicate often

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Q. How do I pick a great Web designer for my Web site?

A. First, determine the designer's skill level. Review the designer's Web site and online portfolio. This will show his attention to detail and his design style. Look at the designer's experience with various design programs. Can he work on your site from beginning to end? Can he create online forms or would he have to contract it out?

Find out their HME experience

Experience with HME and healthcare is valuable. If the designer is new to HME, be prepared to invest additional time. You'll have to give detailed instructions on your primary viewers, products and services, and overall design. A designer who's familiar with the HME business, products and customer base will make your life easier.

make sure he sticks around

You and the designer will need to establish timelines and deadlines. Ask for final approval on each stage of the project. One of the complaints I hear most from business owners is that after completing a site, the designer disappears. This could be critical when you decide to make updates or move to a different hosting company. Make sure the designer will be accessible after completing the Web site. Remember, a Web site isn't just a project; it's an on-going process.

Check references

Ask for a list of the designer's former clients. Ask them questions about deadlines, communication skills and overall satisfaction. Would they work with them again?

Agree on costs

Does the designer bill by the hour or a flat fee? What will he charge for updates? Get an exact amount for how long the project will take and the total cost. Make sure the contract also includes what happens if these terms are not met.

Be prepared

Establish your goals ahead of time and know what you want. Look at other Web sites to find out what you do and don't like, then create a specific site plan for your site.

The best advice: Communicate with your designer often.

Laura Hand is the creative director/senior Web designer at VGM Forbin. Reach her at 319-274-4456 or