How do I choose a company to design and maintain my business' website?
July 27, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I choose a company to design and maintain my business' website?

I need a website for my new business. Please help me decide how to pick a company to build it. Important notes:

1. The site is not going to be complicated. Twenty or so pages. No crazy flash animations. No shopping cart. Nothing to be encrypted, and nothing anyone will need to use to login. Text, some photos, some videos, and a form for potential clients to fill out if they want to contact me.

2. During initial site design, it's important to me that I work with someone that understands my vision and is willing to execute on that vision. I'd like to be able to call that person and speak to him/her directly as we design.

3. I want to develop a relationship so that, when I need a change or modification to the site, I can just shoot the right person an email to make that change. We're not talking daily, and perhaps not even monthly...I just want to know the person will be available in a reasonable amount of time.

With my #3 demand, this sort of takes or any freelancers out of the picture.

For the record, I know some HTML and could, in theory, do it myself. But I don't want to, and I won't get the nuances right, like making sure the site is optimized for specific browsers.

I'd appreciate if this company could be troubled to host the site as well.

And, just throwing this out seems like a good fit; does anyone know anything about that company?

How do I pick the correct company?
posted by st starseed to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I used to work at a marketing company that did websites, and what you're asking for is the basic type of website I used to create. Compliant in several browsers that usually get 5% or more of the browser market. We used to host all of our clients' sites with a third-party hosting site. I helped maintain all that; our clients called us if the site was down, etc. and we dealt with it.

We had a graphic designer, project manager (to sift out your data and make good menu choices and figure out the focus of the site), etc. Our clients would just email us to get a new image, logo, change the menu items, add/delete something, etc.

You can mefimail me and let me know what area of the country you're in. Or, you can just look around for a marketing company in your area that does "web development" and "web design." You need web design and not print design -- two totally different things; print designs do not go well onto websites.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

If you don't want a full-service company to do this all for you, you could use Wordpress and get a freelancer to make you a nice Wordpress design. Then, maintaining a Wordpress site is very easy, and you could do it yourself without knowing much if any HTML. Course, if you want to pay, there are companies who'll wait on you hand and foot! :-)
posted by minx at 8:48 PM on July 27, 2011

I agree with the later part of minx's suggestion - hire a freelancer to help modify a wordpress theme. Wordpress is perfect for a small business site with the parameters you've described. Browse themes at a place like theme forest to get an idea of how your site could look, right out of the box, for less than $50.00.

It's still worth hiring a freelancer to help set the site up, load in your content, and tweak a few settings to make it all yours, but once that's done, you have a site that you could easily maintain on your own, and it should be compliant with modern browsers.
posted by bonsai forest at 8:54 PM on July 27, 2011

Do you already have an idea of what you want your site to look like? Do you know where which information will go, how the different sections will be divided and presented? If you do, you could definitely use a Wordpress template and get someone to customize it and set it up for you, as mentioned above.

If you actually need someone to help you organize your thoughts into a usable website, I would put an ad on Mefi Jobs or Craigslist or whatever job board is used in your area, and make sure to review candidates' previous work. Are the sites easy to navigate, intuitive, well-organized? Do you like the look and feel of it? Those are important questions; finding someone who will work with you on this, and not just implement your ideas without suggesting improvements, is well worth the time and money.
posted by OLechat at 9:12 PM on July 27, 2011

I'm going to send you a MefiMail.
posted by acoutu at 10:01 PM on July 27, 2011

#3 actually sounds like a perfect argument for a freelancer. A local one, not someone cheap you find online. With a freelancer you talk directly to the person who is doing the work, and don't have to go through an account exec, project manager, etc. Look for somebody with at least 5 years under their belts and decent references; they'll be reliable and professional and can get the job done faster and cheaper than an agency.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 10:42 PM on July 27, 2011

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