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First time working with another company for my site.

Need advice on dealing with firm

     
8:03 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Traditionally I have done all of the design for my sites. This however has not proven to be time/cost effectve considering all of the development is doen by me as well.

I have decided to employ a design company to do a template of my index page and 'first level' page, along with css style sheets for the forms and text.

What I need to know is what to expect from them. I already have something in place for them to go off of, so this won't be entirely from a blank canvas.

Should I ask for two or more examples of what they could do for me? What other sort of questions should I ask? Should I have examples of other sites that I could site for example of what I want...etc?

Any experience would be well appreciated, and I thought that this forum would be the just the place since this is where the people who offer these services converse.

Thanks in advance.

zuko

10:02 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Come on folks.....

what would you do to get a client's business?

What level of service and products have you traditionally offered?

Anything would do....thanks.

Zuko

10:48 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If you already have a clear idea of what you want, I should think you would ask to see samples of their designs to ensure that they are capable of the style and feel that you are looking for. One of the problems I generally run into is a client *not* knowing what he wants, but thinking he knows what he wants and constantly changing what he wants :)

That, and budget should be considered. If you are looking only for design and not seo, it's a buyers market out there. Also, it seems you are only interested in a template of the home page...and then are you going to make the rest of the pages yourself using the template? Will you be asking the designer to also maintain the site? How about Hosting?

-webwoman

2:10 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We hired a graphics guru for a few jobs here. It was a simple setup. He charged $xx per hour. In our first meeting he showed off his portfolio, and we talked about our company, its conservative culture, and told him what we needed done. We asked for a few designs with a maximum of XX hours, and he went off do do his thing.

It worked out great. Once we got a feel for each others work style, we both knew what to expect.

6:03 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies.

Webwoman....I know what you mean with clients not knowing what they want. This has been my profession for quite some time now, and I get that all the time. I find that being able to quickly define the customers needs adds to profitability, which is why we are going with the design company (time effective).

I actually already have something in place already where the designers will know what kind of graphic design we need...the navigation and layout are already done, it is just a question of what it will take to complete it. I am always up for new ideas, but this should be pretty cut and dry for them. The site will bve hosted here.

Travoli, I like your idea of what can I get for this amount of hours. That's what I'll ask for. "Give me all the different versions (2 to 3) that you can for this amount of money, and we'll choose one".

If I'm missing anything please let me know, or what I should expect.

Thanks in advance, and thanks for the replies.

James

6:21 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Your welcome, and best of luck to you.
6:11 am on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi Zuko:

Let me first say "bravo" for having the foresight to hire this kind of thing out! More of us need to sub-contract out to firms that have strengths other than our own, and focus on generating more business for ourselves.

My "two cents": Here's the thing about hiring "2 or 3" designs - there's really only 1 design that truly fits your requirements at this time and place. The difference between 2 designs can seem small but the message each conveys can be enormous. Getting them designed "blind" means they won't be as effective as if it was spent doing one "right". As a designer, if I was faced with this paradox I'd have to say that I'd toss everything I thought needed to be there in the first design, and then the second or third design would be either utter BS to make the first look GREAT or the 2nd and 3rd would be re-takes on the first design highlighting different features.

What you really need to do is work with the company to have them assess what your needs are, then come up with a design that meets those needs...with the knowledge that your needs will change in the future, and designs are continually evolving, too (just look in an HTML sample book from a few years back to see how far web design has evolved in a short time.)

Quick Example - your logo, how important is it to your business? Should it be prominent? 1/5 of the screen "above the fold"? Less? More? Traditionally left-aligned? Or break it and center it like Oracle.com does? Or break all rules and right-align?

Even something so simple can convey an extremely different message to your audience about your brand/business. I know we deal in the subtext of messages *all the time*. Ex: What does this image or the positioning of this headline say to the audience?

Some people do look at a website like an advertisement done on spec - surely you've seen TV and movies that depict an ad exec bringing in several different ads to a client, and the client choosing their "favourite". Well, web site designs by professional designers aren't like that - there's usability factors to consider, screen sizes to contend with, limited fonts, uncontrollable platforms. Exceptionally different expectations between the age and other demographic factors of your audience... trust me, no pixel goes unturned on the home pages of the big companies like IBM, Amazon, etc. They track the clicks of everything placed around the page for maximum effectiveness. And while none of us have that kind of budget, we can and should learn from the basics of what they do.

Frankly, there's a lot of pre-existing conventions that can guide your design, many of them garnered from these big corporations. Left align menu, big middle space, small right menu has become a "standard". So has left logo, centered nav menu, text below. And so on. If this style of informational design fits your needs, it answers a lot of questions right away. Then you can focus on the little details of the design that truly reflect the differences in your business.

I hope this gives you some help in thinking about your site design.