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How to Find a NJ WordPress Web Design Firm

Published:  March 7, 2022
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If you're reading this post then you likely already know that you need a new website or that you need your existing website redesigned or updated. And the fact that you are looking for a firm or designer that works with WordPress already puts you a step ahead of the game.

You will come across dozens of designers and developers in your search for a company or individual in NJ that works with WordPress, and in this post I want to review some of the major concepts you need to know, and questions you need to ask.

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What is a WordPress Designer vs. a WordPress Website Developer?

The term web designer traditionally refers to someone, usually a graphic designer, who creates the look and feel of your website. These talented individuals focus on color, contrast, fonts, spacing, white space and sizing - to name a only a few considerations - as they design your website. Generally speaking, web designers are different than web developers, as the designers create the site, while the website developer takes the design vision and turns the design images into a live website on the Internet. In modern WordPress website design, the individual or website design firm you are working with almost always handles the design and the development. At Short Hills Design in Maplewood, NJ, our team has dedicated graphic designers as well as dedicated developers so we can provide our clients with a seamless experience.

1. Look at their Reviews

The first thing you need to do when evaluating a web design firm is to look at their reviews. At Short Hills Design, we are proud of our 100% 5-star Google rating, and you should look for web design firms who are highly rated as well. Look at the specifics of the reviews to get an insight as to how the company works? Are they generic reviews? Or do the reviewers discuss a specific trait or characteristic of the company?

2. Get References

Your website is too important to leave to chance, and I strongly urge you to get and contact references before you work with any web design firm -- in NJ or elsewhere.

What questions should I ask the references?

There's no complete list but here are a few great starting questions:

  1. Did the company respond quickly to your questions?
  2. Did the company follow your instructions?
  3. If mistakes were made, did the company own the mistakes and try to remedy the situation (everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone handles mistakes in a professional manner).
  4. Were there any hidden fees or charges?

3. Sign a Contract

Regardless of who you choose to work with for your WordPress needs, make sure you sign a contract.

What items should be in a NJ WordPress web design contract?

This is not legal advice and we are not attorneys, but from a general perspective:

  1. Make sure all of the prices and fees are listed clearly.
  2. Make sure all of the deliverables or milestones are marked (for example, we ask for 50% up front, and then ask for the final 50% of the contact price when the client approves the site).
  3. What license do you have to the website and the content? Do you own the website? Do you own the content? (You should).
  4. What are the consequences if the company is late in getting you the design mockups or finishing the build?
  5. What are the consequences if you are late in getting the firm the necessary assets such as logos, images, photos, or text?
  6. Once the site is launched, do you have a complimentary update period (we give 14 or 30 days depending upon the package).
  7. Is there any WordPress training included in the fee, or does training cost extra (depending upon the package, we include 1 hour of WP training so our customers can manage as much of their own websites that they are comfortable with).
  8. Are there any recurring fees once the site is built? (In our case, the only monthly fee we have is website hosting, and all other services are a la carte as there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach).

4. Ask About Leaving the Firm

This might sound like a crazy thing to do - after all, you're interviewing a web design firm - why would you talk about what happens if the relationship doesn't work out? The reason is that if you do wind up using a different WordPress firm, you need to be able to take everything with you. The key here is that you as the website owner need to own everything (or at least the licenses).

What parts of my WordPress website should I own?

  1. You can't own WordPress itself since it's freely available software, but you can own the license to any theme the company builds for you. And if you are using a web designer that creates a custom design for you (at Short Hills Design we frequently produce custom designs for our clients), you need to own the license for the theme (you are paying for it, aren't you)?
  2. Make sure you have a license for any stock images you use. Remember, you cannot "borrow" images from another website or copy images from a Google search. If you want to use an image, create an account at istockphoto.com or depositphoto.com (or any other legal image source) and purchase a license for the images (we create an account for our clients and help the clients select the images, and the client makes the purchase).
  3. Do you have administrative access to your website? Some companies try to prevent the website owner from having access to their own sites for fear that a "regular user" might somehow cause a problem with the website. And while you should not make changes to a site if you don't know what you are doing, you need to have administrative access to your own website. Period.
  4. Do you have access to backups? One of the great things about WordPress is that you can very easily pull a backup and move your site elsewhere. This is great for the customer, and not as great for the vendor -- but all of our clients at Short Hills Design have access to their backups as we want to earn their continued business and not trap people into working with us.
  5. Do you have administrator access to all of your Google Accounts? This is a critical question to ask as we've dealt with customers where their previous web firms refused to give them full access to their own data. It's fine for your web company to be an administrator/user/manager, etc. on your Google Accounts, but make sure that YOU are an administrator.

5. Look at their Design Portfolio

We've been building WordPress websites for clients across North America for over 15 years, and I've looked at websites that I think are quite unattractive, only to find out that the customer loves the design. So when you are looking for an NJ WordPress web designer, take time to look at their portfolio and see if their styles match your styles. Many firms have a specific approach to design that you may like or you may not like, and you need to know ahead of time which one the firm is. One of the things that we do to help make sure that we produce a design that our client loves, is that when we do our discovery with the client, we ask them to list sites they like (and why) and sites they don't like (any why). The sites don't have to bee in the same industry as the client, but knowing what works and what doesn't is incredibly helpful in understanding the client's vision. As an example, you can view our WordPress website design portfolio to see the different looks and concepts that we can do to meet the individual needs of our clients.

Congratulations on taking the first steps in finding WordPress design firm for your website needs. If you have any questions about the process or about how we build our sites for our clients, please feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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