Designing Around the World
SOHO It Goes!
is a new denizen of the creative world these days, known
as a web designer. Evolved out of just about every medium
of communication, thousands more have jumped in with
much less background. In the same way that personal
computers, and desktop publishing, created a flood of
entrepreneurs, the Internet is attracting thousands
of people with dreams of self-employment.
the perspective of a potential client, it is natural
to be more comfortable with employees in front of them,
and understandably anxious about never "seeing"
the people they are paying to develop their Internet
presence. Meanwhile, the Internet DOES make it possible
for talented, professional designers to work from home,
and provide service to clients virtually anywhere in
the world. So rather than limit yourself to the talent
available in your own backyard, lets take a look
at how such an arrangement works, and how to go about
hiring a designer who isn't in your neighborhood.
professional designer doing business on the Web is going
to use a number of different communication tools to
work with you. They will be adept at using the Internet
technology to develop and launch your site, from a remote
location. As long as both parties are responding to
their email promptly, a great deal of communication
can be handled that way. Text documents to be converted
into HTML can be sent to the designer as an email attachment.
Sketches of site layout can be sent from the client
to the designer via fax. The telephone remains as a
way of discussing business, and good old snail mail
is necessary to exchange signed documents, and materials
that the designer will use for the development.
designer should have access to a web server where they
can temporarily display your site, so that you can review
it as it is developed. When the time comes to mount
the site on your hosting, the designer should be able
to use FTP (file transfer protocol) to move it over,
using the passwords you provide to them.
that you know how your site might be developed by someone
out of town, the first hurdle is determining the reputability
of the person you are considering. You may have encountered
a web site that you really liked, followed a link in
the credits, and hopefully found an equally pleasing
site to behold. When contacting the designer, feel free
to request references. If they have been doing this
for a while, they will be able to provide you with references
from past clients, attesting to their professionalism,
ability to complete the job, and what a pleasure it
was to work with them. The designer's portfolio is a
critical part of evaluating how their talents might
work for you, so be sure to visit the online portfolio
you are assured of their reputability, supply the designer
with as much information as you can about the project
you are proposing, and ask them for a quote. Shop around,
and investigate what the price range will be for the
quality you are expecting, but beware - the old adage
"you get what you pay for" usually holds true,
as in any business. No doubt you will find lower prices,
but will you be getting proven quality, or reputation,
or reliability for your deal? It's something to think
the most important part of the process, whether the
designer IS the kid next door, or a professional 3,000
miles away, is to have it in writing. Conduct a proposal
and quoting process via email, but once those terms
are agreed upon, expect to see a contract. Most professional
designers will have an agreement which outlines what
you can expect, what their responsibilities are to you,
what elements you are buying for your web site, the
payment terms, and the licensing/copyright issues of
any custom design work that is involved (ie., illustrations
they develop). This agreement protects BOTH you and
the designer, but of course, you should feel free to
have your own attorney look at it.
are exciting times we live in - small businesses being
able to compete for business around the world, designers
being able to develop your site without ever laying
eyes on you, and endless information at our fingertips.
The rules of doing business today are changing as quickly
as they can be defined - don't limit yourself, your
business or your information.
'Turtle' Parzek is a veteran marketing designer and online
communications consultant who has been working from home
and virtually since 1995. Her business, SOHO
It Goes! (www.soho-it-goes.com) specializes in providing
technology driven design, marketing and communication
services to small businesses and organizations.