The Importance of Finding a Good Web Designer
It seems like almost every business has a website these days - whether you're a taxi driver, a restaurant owner, a personal trainer, or a tutor, you need to have some online presence so that people know that you exist!

While many people will simply look for your store or your services on Google Maps and then press the 'click to call' button, many others will want to learn a little bit about you before they visit - and that's what your website is for. If your site loads slowly, looks ugly or is full of errors then there's a high chance that you will lose a customer.

Sadly, creating a website is one of those skills that people under-value. Just like people assume that anyone can write (but that they "just don't have the time"), there is a trend towards people thinking that any young person is going to be a skilled web developer. Knowing how to use the web is not the same as knowing how to create it. 

If you want your website to attract customers instead of scaring them away, then you need to make sure that it is well made. There are some tools out there that do make it easier for the average person to put together a decent website, but it still helps to have a developer and a designer to give you a headstart.

It can be tempting to simply install WordPress on a shared hosting account and use one of the thousands of free themes to customise your website. While this is a good idea for a prototype, it's not going to help you much in the long run, because WordPress is so common now that people are used to seeing sites that run it - and even the average non-technical end user can spot a site that uses a free theme. They may not be able to say "That's a WordPress site running the free EggNews theme," but they will think "This site looks generic, I feel like I've been here before" and that's not a good thing.

A good web designer will find you a layout that reflects your brand. They will make a site that looks good on desktop and mobile. They will use consistent fonts and colors that complement each other and add images that match the rest of the page. They will work your logo on the site in smart and stylish ways, and they will lay the content out so that your calls to action are easy to spot and likely to be acted upon.

You could do your layout - but there's a chance that this would backfire. If you have a site that doesn't run well on mobile devices, then you won't just alienate mobile users - you run the risk of losing your desktop users as well because Google will penalize your site in the search engines.

So, take this time to find a developer that you can trust, who will make you a site that looks good and that will get your message across. Get quotes from a few different designers and ask each of them to give you a few links to sites that they have designed in the past. Do you like those websites? Would you buy from them? Do they reflect the brand of the companies in question?

Small business owners are on a tight budget, but that doesn't mean that you have to accept sub-standard work. You should be able to fit a decent website design into your budget - especially if it's a modest online store or a content site. If you're looking for something that is more sophisticated, then there might be development costs on top of the front-end work. You can keep costs low by providing a clear and realistic brief, and answer promptly if the developer asks you for assets. Have high-resolution photos on hand. Understand that there are limits to what the designer can do, and listen to them if they advise you using certain features. Work with you designer to come up with something that looks good, and that is easy to use.

Also, be aware that the most important thing is to get your message across. You don't want a site that is 'pretty, ' but that lacks substance. Try to aim for something that offers functionality, and that makes it easy for a buyer to find what they want. That's what will allow you to run a successful business. All too often, business owners make things from their perspective, rather than thinking about what the customer wants - and really, the customer is the most important person in this whole equation.

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