If you're like most business owners you know that you need to have an internet presence in order to reach a more expansive audience. The problem is that you probably do not have an unlimited budget with which to build your internet presence through avenues such as having a custom website designed, hiring a search engine marketing / optimization (SEM / SEO) expert, and paying for pay per click (PPC), blogging, article posting or banner ad marketing.
Well, the good news is that needing more services than one can afford in the general market is a very common issue. And like most common challenges in the business world, there are at least a few ways to get around this problem.
First, before you even beginning searching for a web development or marketing firm you need to take the time to think through your precise needs. When looking to promote your business, information or services online some crucial questions you must ask yourself are:
1) What exactly will the main purpose of my website be (deliver information, increase local on-site sales, generate internet based sales, sell advertising, save money by enhancing the efficiency of your current site).
2) What size budget are you working with? Later in the article we will suggest a range of reputable providers who's services range from very inexpensively to reliably costly. We'll also note some of the differences in quality you can expect based on what you pay.
3) Have you thought through your service needs well enough to explain them to a competent designer or developer? Obviously understanding what you are looking will significantly increase the odds that you actually receive it. If you want a website developed, take the time to actually find similar sample sites you can send your web team to so they have an idea of what you want.
Because this holds true for just about any graphic design or website development services an employee (you) would need, most professional website design firms should actually provide you with a question or "creative brief" that will help you think through and then clearly state what you are looking for. Such briefs should ask you about your company, other designs you like, color schemes you prefer etc.
Secondly, now that you've thought through the services you require, it's time to start looking for a suitable provider.
The good news is that there are literally thousands of thousands of website design, graphic design, search engine marketing and SEO companies out there for you to choose from. Oh wait, maybe that's the bad new … With so many providers in the market you might need some help finding the best web service provider for you.
Here are a few suggestions that will help you identify a company to start your design project with:
1) Check out Craigslist.org. Craigslist is the most active internet based classified ads website in existence. Because this site is free to use, and it receives literally billions of page views each month, a good number of national and local service provider advertise their services on it. Website design, graphic design and web development service providers can generally be found in the "Creative Services" or "Computer Services" sections on Craigslist.
2) Run a search for "XYZ directory" and you find websites that maintain extensive lists of whatever service providers you require. Note: replace the "XYZ" with the type of service you need. For example, you may search for "Website Designer Directory."
3) If you're not in the mood to do the research for yourself here are some reputable, and national, web development providers:
Logoworks.com : This firm is a well-respected website and logo design firm. Their prices are on the high side but if you're not too budget conscious you'll find that they produce quality work. I'd probably go with them for medium scale jobs in the range of $ 5,000 to $ 10,000.
InkBlotDesignStudios.com : Ink Blot Design Studios is a national web development company that established itself by providing premium quality website and logo designs at wholesale prices. If you're budget is between $ 39 and $ 5,000 then they are a great choice.
Volusion.com : These guys are for the big boys. Their logo designs alone cost around $ 600 (vs. $ 39 Logos from Ink Blot Design Studios and $ 299 Logos from Logoworks) and their template based websites can cost $ 3,000 (vs. $ 400 from other companies). However, if you are looking for prestige (a perfectly reasonable desire) and you're willing to pay for it then this might be a no-brainer.
Of course, there are other options for outsourcing your design projects ( guru.com , odesk.com etc) but we did not include a review of them here because of the frequency of complaints they receive from past clients who tried to hire really cheap workers from overseas and ended up getting burned out of their money. That's not to say that you can not find great service providers on sites like those; you can. You'll just have to be extra cautious so that you do not end up losing your money and / or being disappointed with the product you receive.
Final note, I did not talk specifically about SEO services much in this articles because you can find those same services from the means suggested for finding website developers and logo designers. You can also check with the companies I mentioned above because some of them provide SEO and SEM services as well.
Good luck with your new website and / or graphic designs!