You've hired a web designer to create a website. Now comes the big challenges of putting your design ideas on paper, setting an overall budget and keeping track of progress. While these are difficult tasks, you can make the process much easier by following a few tips.
The first aspect you need to cover when dealing with a web designer is your vision of the final product. While in theory it is possible to write down all of your wishes, that isn't a good idea when working with designs. Instead, you as a client should sketch out the specific ideas to give the designer a feel for exactly what it is that you want.
If you are comfortable with pen and paper to lay out your design, that is one way to tackle this obstacle. If you'd rather use software to aid you, many different solutions exist – with the main difference being the price you are willing to pay. SmartDraw offers a simple piece of software that will work that is free of cost. WebWave is more powerful but its price ($299) may be a drawback to those on a tight budget.
A long-term solution that as emerged recently that has revolutionized the relationship between clients and their web designers is ProtoShare. This online tool allows for clients to create a mockup of a website and share it instantly online with the web designer. No software is needed to be installed and the price starts as low as $25 per month.
Once the web designer fully understands what it is that you want, the next aspect to be covered should be the complete cost of the project. As a client, you want to know a firm number that includes any design software, technical equipment, server costs or anything else that may arise. The quote can come in the form of one overall price or the expected number of hours and the charge per hours. Either way, it is advisable to offer a way for any possible cost overruns to be handled swiftly and efficiently. The best way to handle that is for the web designer to require written permission from you for anything that may result in the final price being higher than the agreed upon amount.
The final aspects that need to be ironed out are the expected date of delivery, payment arrangement arrangements and a way to keep track of progress. A hard delivery date is typically a good idea, although that may not be feasible in all agreements. Web designers typically request a portion of the money upfront, with the rest due on delivery.
To track the progress of a website, you should ask for screen shots of the website once or twice a week. Requiring an accompanying written report of development should also help keep both parties on the same page.