Looking for a website for your startup business? Finding that “bang for your buck” web design deal may be a bit more difficult than you imagined. Whether you are tossing around quotes or you are in the pre-conception stage of your web design you should understand that skimping on your web design by hiring “bottom of the barrel” designers will hurt your brand. With that being said, it’s definitely possible to optimize your efforts when searching for that perfect designer.

1. Write Down Basic Needs

Ask yourself:

What is the purpose of my site?

Are you looking to build brand recognition? Drive e-commerce sales? Deliver content within a niche community?

What is the overall “feel” of my website?

This likely depends on your industry and if you are looking to differentiate yourself drastically within the industry. The feel of your website should directly reflect your brand’s message and tone.

What features do I want to add?

Do you want multimedia video and a blog roll, or do you want it to include a robust e-commerce shopping cart? Your website should reflect what you believe your audience will respond best to.

Who am I targeting?

Potentially the hardest question is whom do I target? Well, if you already have an established brand find out what elements your target market desires (colors & design elements) and cater everything around this web-marketing plan.

2. Past Experience

Do they have a track record of success with other businesses that are similar to yours?  How many engagements have they completed and can they demonstrate success?  Check their references

3. Stability and Viability

How long have they been in the web development marketplace and can you count on them to be around when you need them down the road?  When (not if) you have an emergency or your needs change, will they still be here to help you?  This is especially important since they will be dealing with your important intellectual property (IP). –We have had businesses call when their web developer folded shop and turned off the lights without any notification – their website was down, couldn’t get in touch with their developer, and they’re calling to fix it.  At that point, there’s not that can be done to fix it without starting from scratch.  Avoid this situation from the get-go by making sure the web development firm you engage is likely to be there when you need them.

4. Pool Your Information

Your website outline should address how many internal pages your site has, but pooling your businesses historical information can give you and web designer a holistic view of your needs. Say for instance, your business was founded on the principles of “customer service and quality products.” If you disregard this notion completely in your website, you will give inconsistent messages to your user.

5. Keywords and SEO scope

You really don’t need to be an SEO guru to understand your target niche. Most designers charge extra for SEO services, they will be able to generate your sites internal SEO, but you could manager your link building and keyword strategy. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to understand populate a list of keywords you may be interested in targeting locally and globally.

6. Familiarize Yourself With a CM

A content management system (CMS) is the portal in which you interact with the website. Finding out where you will need to update information on your site regularly will determine your CMS needs. If you are going to update your content frequently it is probably smart to familiarize yourself with a CMS like Joomla, WordPress or Drupal.

7.  Be willing to pay a retainer

Building a website involves some upfront costs.  Things like servers, designers, designs, tools etc.  Web developers often pay out of pocket for this kind of stuff. Companies that charge a retainer up front mean business.  This should give you confidence.  If they don’t, they are either very successful, or haven’t learned the “right way” yet.
8.  You get what you pay for.
Web development is not cheap.  Regardless of all the ads you might see online for $12 websites, this is not what you want.  Granted, sometimes a $100 throw away site serves your need, but this is rarely the case.  Don’t expect to pay anything less than $2500 for even a simple website.  Also, be wary of things like Search Engine Optimization and other “extras”, all the good guys do this anyway.


Most importantly, compare web design price quotes. You will never be able to establish your web design project’s baseline without price quotes. Review your budget and after assessing your needs you should be able to negotiate common grounds with your designer.