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Top 10 Considerations for an Upscale Web Site Design
How to maximize the services of your designer
for an efficient and compelling web site.

Initial Interview
Your web site designer needs to know what you want, or at least must be able to lead you towards what seems right for you. Good, initial questions your designer should have answers to include: What is the purpose of your web site? What are some web sites you like, dislike, and why? What color palette do you think will be best? What are the five most important words you would use to describe the atmosphere of your web site?

Contract or Statement of Terms
Chinese proverb: The clearest memory is weaker than the faintest ink! Begin what may be a long-term relationship with clarity and understanding. It is a good idea to be provided with a written contract or statement of work that contains terms concerning ownership of created work, compensation agreement, time frames for completing projects, and platform and browser compatibility specifications.

Information with a Team Spirit
Not only should your designer be knowledgeable and resourceful, but also willing to be immersed in, and charged by, the creative ideas behind the site. The designer must distill vitality, spirit and purpose from the members of the enterprise to fuel a web site that engages visitors and serves the purpose of the enterprise with artful excellence.

Creative and Technological Talent
While you should be delighted with the creative talents of your designer, it is also important that the designer have a solid technical understanding of web site development. The designer should be able to: reduce images to minimum weight (number of bytes) while maintaining visual integrity so download times are as fast as possible; create clear, usable and intelligent site navigation; create HTML (the code that defines the design of web pages) that is complete, wisely coded and optimized for efficiency; maintain a web site directory structure that is organized and easy to update.

Consistent Site Atmosphere
A good designer will be able to maintain an aesthetic theme throughout the site to create a distinct sense of being somewhere special, unique and complete. If rules are broken, they should be broken to the advantage of the whole.

Site Use Strategies
The designer's involvement in the strategy for the use of your web site is crucial. A web site rarely generates interest and income by itself, and is best served by acting as a media enhancement and interactive vehicle in a broader marketing initiative. Therefore, the designer has to make the site complimentary to, and possibly offer consultation for, the global marketing strategies that the web site serves.

Insights for Text Refinement
While the web site designer is not usually the web writer, the designer should have the experience to know what the difference is between good and bad copy. Because the writing is at least as important as the graphics, both regarding its content and its part in the overall design, the designer must have a hands-on relationship to it. Often the writing ends up being created by the enterprise owner, who is also not a web writer - or at least didn't expect to be! In order to get the most out of the text, input from the designer is a very valuable service.

Special Site Functionality Resources
You are best served by a web site designer who has a good working relationship with a top quality Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP working with the designer can provide you with many services to enhance the functionality of your site including automated response to user input and timely site statistics to help you analyze user behavior.

Cross-Platform Color and Code Handling Verification
If your web site looks fabulous, why are people complaining about neon pink backgrounds? Answer: Different platforms (Mac OS, Windows 95, for example), and different web browsers (Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc.), handle colors and HTML code differently! Your designer must verify the integrity of the web site with a variety of hardware and software configurations.

Back-ups for Back-ups!
This is one place being pessimistic pays off! When the server is submerged in a flood, the designer's hard drive goes belly-up, and the back-up drive files are corrupted (true story), it is worth some karmic credit to have your web site safely tucked away on an emergency Zip disk! Just insist.

Article by Peter Cohen, peter@studiofig.com, http://www.wisefools.com
Tip: Useful Additions To Your Web Site
  • Forms are needed if you want to gather information
  • Auto Responders give instant response to e-mail inquiries
  • Extra E-mail addresses monitor info for specific departments
  • Databases to store and sort info, orders, addresses,etc.
  • Password Protected Pages to protect entry /sensitive info
  • E-commerce if you are planning on selling products, etc.
  • Ads/Banners if you want to draw traffic to products/pages
  • Affilliate Marketing to get paid for selling other products
  • Guest Books if you want people to sign in and view others
  • Newsletters to inform your web audience of updates, etc.
  • Web Counters if you want to monitor your Site's traffic
  • Custom Scripts to create special effects or duties
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