With so many web design suppliers available, the decision of which web designer to choose can be a daunting one. After reading this quick guide, you can ask your potential designer the right questions and feel confident that you are hiring the right person to build or revamp your website.

Are the pages web optimized?

Statistics show that users will wait only 4 seconds to begin to see a page loading when they first visit a website, and only 20 seconds for the entire page to have downloaded on the screen. Any longer than that and they will hit the back button in the browser and leave, probably for good. Make sure your web designer knows about this and thus will balance your site with lightweight graphics and text.

Are the pages mobile friendly?

Depending on your industry, 30-60% of the visitors to your website use a smartphone. If users have to zoom in to read your pages, they typically leave prematurely. Since April 2016 Google ranks non-mobile-friendly sites by assigning a lower search engine result.

Usability and Accessibility

Research shows that users do not read websites, they skim them. Your visitors will look around feverishly for anything that is interesting or resembles what they’re looking for. A good web designer knows this, so she places important information strategically throughout the website, makes good use of conventions (i.e. anything clickable should be underlined), designs a user-friendly website with intuitive navigation. This is designing with usability in mind.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a US law requiring the federal government to make all goods and services, including websites fully accessible to people with disabilities. It identifies specific standards for Internet and Web accessibility. These guidelines encourage developers to make websites accessible to desktop browsers, voice browsers (screen readers), mobile phone, and other software that aids the handicapped navigate the Internet.

Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Besides the issue of search engine visibility (covered above), good web design incorporates competitive and relevant keywords within the text of the page, and ‘behind the scenes’, tucked away in what’s called the HTML Meta Tags, which are not usually visible to human eyes. Research and placement of the keywords are extremely important if you want your website to stand a chance before the search engines, and therefore, have your website make a positive impact on your business’ bottom line!

W3C Compliance

XHTML 1.1 Transitional Compliance: XHTML is a stricter and cleaner version of HTML recommended by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). XHTML is the effective inheritor of HTML 4.01 and although it is almost identical to its predecessor it is aimed to replace it. W3C will not continue to develop HTML, future W3C work will be focusing on XHTML only. In light of this information, it is very important that your web designer codes (programs) your website with the latest of standards in the industry.

Tableless CSS Markup

Web designers have traditionally relied heavily (or even exclusively) on the use of HTML tables to display their web designs on the Internet. However, tables present multiple issues on flexibility, interoperability, and most importantly accessibility. Tableless CSS markup is quickly becoming the standard in the web community, especially since it allows to separate content from the presentation (or design) of a website with enhanced control and flexibility; it demands less bandwidth usage, and it fully supports mobile and handheld devices. Since HTML table-based coding will sooner or later be phased out, it behooves you to check if your web designer will use the highly recommended tableless CSS markup when building your website.

Browser Compatibility

Since the Internet has continued to grow at an exponential rate, so have the Internet Browser brands, such as Chrom Internet Explorer-Edge, Firefox, and Safari. While Chrome remains the most popular, followed very closely by Firefox, there are well over a dozen different options out there that are being used by Internet visitors. Each of these browsers decodes the HTML, XHTML or CSS of your website in slightly a different way. Sometimes the design will hardly be affected, yet other times the interpretation given to a particular piece of such code can drastically alter the overall design or composition of your site. Make sure your website will be compatible in at least the two most common browsers: Internet Explorer and Firefox.