Owning and running a website

How to find a good web designer

Erika and I founded Iolante Ltd in June 2014. The company was to be a multilingual web-based enterprise, providing independent freelance translators with a marketing platform. Having worked out the basic business concept and core website contents, the first thing Iolante needed was a good web designer, as the freelancer we had used for our previous site was no longer providing website design services.

Initially I searched the internet for someone who was suitably qualified. That is someone who could do a multilingual site for a translation service company. However, I could find no one reasonably local and suitably qualified and experienced.

Eventually, I received a recommendation of sorts. The guy was the son of a business associate’s supplier. He specialised in website design and claimed to be experienced and qualified. The sites he showed us as examples of his work looked professional. He also provided us with a low-cost quote. So we engaged him.

Things going wrong

The first thing that went wrong, was that D. copied Erika Baker’s website – which specialises in English-German translations – in its entirety. He then published it together with our new site. As Erika’s original site was still up and running, this meant that Google regarded the complete content as plagiarised. As a result Erika’s website lost its previously high ranking. She received no enquiries whatsoever for four to six weeks. When we found out what he had done, we demanded he take that plagiarised text off Iolante. Only then did Erika regain her site’s high Google ranking for English-German translation services. Six weeks’ loss of earnings was the result of this little oversight.

The second thing that proved a problem was that our designer chose to use Drupal as the software for the website. I knew nothing about it.

It was months later when we decided that we were not happy with our designer’s SEO knowledge and tried to find a replacement designer willing to use Drupal that the problem became clear. We could find no one willing to take on the site in its current format.

Everyone looking at our website advised us to redesign completely and use WordPress. This meant a major cost we had not budgeted for.

So, what can be learnt from this experience?

What to look out for when considering to have a new website designed or an existing one overhauled:

  • Read up, prepare the contents of the site and keep looking for that personal recommendation.
  • Look at previous sites your chosen designer has created: are they functioning ok? Do they look the way you want yours to look? Where does the site rank in Google? Can it be found at all? Are the sites service or product orientated?
  • Ask your designer for references from past customers. Don’t just take his word for it that he is confident he can deliver the site you want. Search for proof.
  • Ask your designer what he will do about SEO. If he says that is not his job, keep searching.
  • Check what platform a web designer uses and make sure that it is one used widely by other professionals.

In short: search for a good web designer and be ready for him/her.

You’ll find further information about owning and running a website in this article: How to find a good web designer.

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