You want your website to amaze visitors, or at least keep them there long enough to absorb your message, click around a bit and respond to your call to action. This requires an appealing design, smooth navigation and an up-to-date look. Nothing will turn off potential customers faster than slow-loading pages, broken links and scripts that return error codes.

Depending on the size of your business and budget, you may choose to hire a webmaster in house or contract out for these services. Either way, these tips will help you narrow down the field as you search for someone to handle the design and function of your website.

  • Designer’s previous work. This is an obvious first step. A review of the candidate’s portfolio will give you an idea of how well his or her work will mesh with your vision. Look for diversity, demonstrating a wide range of knowledge and skills. Test the performance of the designer’s work with tools such as PageSpeed. Don’t forget to check out how well the designer’s work adapts to mobile devices.

  • Designer’s vision for your business. Does this person understand what you do? Present your ideas and ask your prospective webmasters what ideas they would contribute. You may lack the technical skills to know what is possible, but you know your product, target market and marketing plan. Ask for suggestions on site design and special features that will align with your business goals, such as videos, contact forms and social media feeds.

  • Knowledge of current trends in web design. You want to keep your site looking professional and fresh. You also need to recognize the difference between fads and trends. You need a webmaster that will know what will be suitable for your business and what fads should be passed over. It is critical that your webmaster is proficient in brand building through social media.

  • Total cost. A lower per-hour rate isn’t a savings if you hire an inefficient webmaster. Look instead at total costs, and get an idea of a designer’s timeline for going live with your new site or project.

  • Level of autonomy. Determine how involved you intend to be in the webmaster function. If you don’t plan to be involved at all, are you comfortable enough with this person to hand over the reins? Maybe you want to be in on most decisions. Be sure the candidate is able to work under the conditions you prefer.

Do not overlook the “plays well with others” factor. The most skilled technician won’t be of much help if there are personality conflicts. You need a webmaster that is responsive to your questions and concerns. Remember, your hire will be your partner in creating and maintaining your business’s online presence. Trust your instincts when it comes to personality and the candidate’s ability to work as a team member.

This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse


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