Creative and Technology • 14th Apr, 16
So, finally, after all those long hours of dedication, of hard work, of learning more about website construction than you thought you’d ever need or want to know – after all that, your careful management of your brand’s online presence has paid off, your business has taken off, and you’ve finally got it in the budget to pay for someone to manage that pesky ol’ online presence for you.
Only issue is: who to hire? Sure, in this digitally charged day and age, the employee market is saturated with them; but hiring someone who’ll just turn your official site into a tangle of Comic Sans and popups…as we’ve said many times, we can’t tell you exactly how to manage your company’s image; but odds are decent that you don’t want it to include that.
So, to get you going, here’s a couple of pointers for when the time for hiring your first web designer rolls around. Odds are you’ll have a fair bit of choice; it’s in everyone’s interest that you make the right one.
- Browsing Their Exhibitions
Portfolios and references. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Hell, it’s the first thing you ask for in the average interview.
But when it comes to choosing the future administrator of your business’s online presence, the key isn’t simply checking whether they’ve done decent work in the past; it’s really looking at that work.
There are, as we probably don’t need to tell you, many, many things that can be done with the average site – myriad styles, layouts, aesthetic approaches – and, the online industry being what it is, the options are only going to increase.
So, with that in mind, before you go hunting down a web designer, you’ve got to have some conception of just what sort of online presence is right for your brand. Don’t be too rigid about it, of course – if there’s one thing them artsy types hate, it’s having their work overly railroaded – but still, make sure you’ve got enough of an idea to avoid hiring someone whose approach to web design just won’t gel with your business. If, simply put, your business is in funerary insurance…well, we can’t tell you exactly what to do with your online image, but odds are, whatever it is, a web dev who’s only ever worked on plush toy websites won’t have quite the sort of experience necessary to bring that image to life. Roy Lichtenstein was a man of profound talent, but you wouldn’t hire him to repaint the Sistine Chapel, ya know?
Likewise, when it comes to references, it’s all very well if some of the top names in the business world have good things to say about them; but if said top names all had them knocking together sites advertising graphics cards while your business is in antique furniture, then their skills, considerable as they may be, might not be the right ones for bringing your business to the world wide web.
- Flexible Folks for an Ever-Flexing Industry
Skills are great – they really are. They’re essential, in any area of work, and web development most certainly isn’t an exception.
But when it comes to something as modern as web development – well, if there’s anything more important than skill, it’s adaptability.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a web developer being specialised in a particular area of web development; but if that specialisation is all that they’re good at, and all that they’re ever going to be good at…well, with the rate that things grow and advance and shift in the world of web development, odds are that, in the space of a month or so, they’ll be irrelevant.
When choosing the folks who’ll handle your business’s online life, you’ll want to make sure that they’re not only skilled, but that they can adapt those skills.
Look into them. Question them. Find out how diverse their previous work has been. Find out how long they’ve been in the business. Find out how willing they are to learn – how many conferences they’ve been to voluntarily, or how much of their free time they spend perusing information about the world of modern web dev. Find out, in short, if they are going to happily grow alongside web development, or be dragged along sulkily behind it.
- Your Means. Stay Within Them.
Yes, yes, you’ve probably heard this over and over from the moment you decided to start a business; but honestly, it really can’t be emphasised enough: you have to be honest with yourself about what you can afford. And while, as we’ve made clear, a good web developer is one of your most important investments…well, the fact is that, as a new business, you can’t just bribe Google’s head dev to come and be your lackey right away.
Luckily, that shouldn’t present too much of an issue – like we’ve said, the IT industry is bloating like hell, and the employee market is currently soaked with surplus web designers desperate for a paying position – many of them (don’t let all this cautionary talk put you off) really quite profoundly talented.
But still, don’t overshoot yourself. We’ve just gone over the merits of hiring folks with the right sort of experience; but keep in mind that particularly experienced folks are going to be more in demand, and thus will have a little bit more room to negotiate higher salaries. Investing in a good web developer is essential; but not if the investment turns into a massive puncture in your income.
- Proficient and Efficient
We’ve made it clear how important it is to hire someone with the right talents. And it is. It really is. But those talents…well, they’ll only go so far if the individual you happen to hire can’t keep up with deadlines well enough to actually use them.
Basically, you want to ensure that the individual you’re considering is efficient, as well as proficient, when it comes to web development; the average customer gets most of their initial information about businesses from their websites nowadays; and when they come across an inefficiently maintained website, they’re going to associate it with an inefficient business.
Be up-front with them about it – make it clear to them how efficient you want them to be. Ask them if they could, hypothetically, complete a certain project by a certain deadline. Exaggerate the deadlines a little, perhaps – we all know the tendency of young fellows who’ve just marched out of uni brandishing a degree to overestimate themselves. Make it clear to them how important it is that they keep up with these deadlines, and how they simply won’t last in the business if they can’t. Don’t scare them away, but don’t be too welcoming either.
Don’t stop there, either – grill their recommenders. Delve into their work history – find out if they’ve ever slacked off in the past, and whether they improved as their experience built up.
Of course, do allow them some leeway, at least at first – moving into a new workspace can be a hectic experience, and it might be a bit much to flay them alive for turning in their first project an hour late. But still, keep an eye on them – if they have to work on your money for three months before they realise they can’t handle the pressures of the industry, it’s your business that’ll lose out.
It’s the 21st century. Online presence is the lifeblood of the modern business – for many of them, online is the only form in which they exist. Sure, maybe you don’t need to be told how important it is to ensure that you hire the right people for your particular business; but we really need to stress that, if there’s any employees who require particularly delicate choice, it’s the ones who’ll represent you online – they, after all, are in charge of something that could well determine whether you sink or swim in the turbulent world of business.