February 15, 2010, 12:00 AM

To succeed in choosing a web design firm, set clear goals, expert says

Having clear goals is key to a successful partnership between an online retailer and web design consultant, Shayne Catrett, e-commerce administrator at Venus Swimwear told attendees today at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2010 Conference.

Lead Photo

George Michie, CEO, Rimm-Kaufmann Group

Before an online retailer seeks out a web site design consultant for a redesign, it`s important that the retailer knows why it`s seeking to redesign its site, Shayne Catrett, e-commerce administrator at Venus Swimwear, said today at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2010 Conference in Orlando.

"You need to ask yourself, `Why are we considering a change to the site?`" he said. "Is it to gather a new audience via a brand shift, or to add new bells and whistles?"

Catrett joined George Michie, CEO of search marketing firm Rimm-Kaufman Group LLC, in a session entitled 10 Questions to ask a design consultant-before you start your makeover at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference.

Each of the retailers` interested parties-from marketing to Internet technology to the company`s executives-has to agree on that mission. "People have different priorities and agendas, so you have to ask them, `Are they ready for the process that will be a redesign?`" Catrett said.

Once everyone agrees to use a design consultant, it`s not enough that the consultant can do the work-they also have to be on the same page-and have the right specialty, he said. There are designers that specialize in rebuilding an entire web site, there are those that focus on the navigation schemes and others that zero in on wireframes. Finding the one that fits a particular need is essential, he said.

"You have to find out their comfort zone," Michie added.

To ensure there`s a good fit, Michie and Catrett highlighted a few questions to pose:

  • What do you see as my site`s major weakness? "It`s pretty revealing in how a design person approaches design and shows what kind of eye he`ll bring to your site," Michie said.
  • How do you approach the process? "It`s important to hear if they approach everything in site design from an artistic perspective or a data-driven perspective," he said. "If they say, `I bring creative flair to the table, I`m an artist, that may be great if part of the process is to rebrand my company, but if I`m looking to better my conversion rates, it may not work," he said.
  • How many revisions are included in the price? "You need to know how many times you can push back at their work," he said.

After everything looks promising, it`s important to get it in writing, said Michie. "Contracts are really important for everyone. So baking into the contract as much detail as you can-in terms of what you get-is important for both the designer and for you."


Internet Retailer will publish a comprehensive report on IRWD10 this Thursday, Feb. 18.


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