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Commissioning a web designer

What to consider when getting your site designed

The most commonly outsourced elements of business websites are design, build and hosting. If you decide to outsource all elements of a site to different suppliers, rather than going with a one-stop shop, you will have to work closely with all providers and project-manage all the agencies yourself.

This is right for you if have a very specific idea of what you want from the site, and from each of your providers. It is a good idea to draw up detailed contracts to define appropriate responsibility guidelines for each agency you commission.

Your check-list for commissions would look a bit like this:

* Budget: amount and allocation

* Strategy: web requirement and agency decisions

* Brief : one for each agency, or an umbrella brief for an end-to-end provider, detailing:

* Design and user experience

* Technical

* Functionality

* Accessibility

* Agency appraisal guidelines

* Implementation

Focusing on one particular area, like design for example, can really help you focus on what you need from all providers. From there, you can move onto what you’ll need from your build and the kind of capacity you’ll need from your hosting company.

When speaking with designers, developers and hosting companies, you need to be able to detail what is required of your website: what it needs to integrate with; what media it needs to play; what gadgets are to be available etc..

You need to take each element of your website equally into account, otherwise the process of establishing and running your site could be difficult.

Be aware when writing your brief that as your website grows your focus will most likely change. With a custom-built site, scalability depends on the people who build it for you: you’ll probably have to go back to that person or that company and have them upgrade it for you.

It’s worth noting that identifying and resolving problems when you have a range of agencies can be difficult.

Pete Stevens of GOSS Interactive, a CMS software and development company that also provides hosting, warns that despite its flexibility and bespoke feel, commissioning the different elements of your site from a number of agencies is not always a good idea for a small firm. He explains:

“I don’t see many advantages of using different suppliers, especially if you’re a smaller firm, because it just makes it confusing and costly. There’d be a different agency rate for each provider, and no overall manager guiding you. You’d have to oversee it yourself.”

If you do not have esoteric and demanding requirements for your site and you’re not very technically able, an end to end solution may be the easier option when starting out. With certain agencies, design, build, hosting and support are all done in the one place – a one-stop shop and can take a certain amount of hassle out of your website task.

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