Raymond McNealy, vice president of Rockville, Md.-based McNealy Corp., took three months and several hundred working hours to choose the right designer for his remodeling business’s Web site. After trial and error, he offers the following tips to other remodelers:
It isn’t necessary to be an expert computer programmer to start up a remodeling business Web site. Yet remodelers must hire Web designers who can put together a site that will meet their specific goals. It’s important to tackle the research and hiring process with as much energy as any other freelance project.
Before making any inquiries, spend a few weeks looking at competitors’ sites. Establish a solid idea of what you want your company’s site to accomplish for your business. Bells and whistles might not be the ideal way to represent your company online, so take the time to note particular desires and dislikes as you go.
Once you have a good grasp on the competition’s capabilities and what you want your site to incorporate, begin looking for Web design firms. The best place to start is online, of course -- if you’re not impressed with the designer’s site, your customers won’t be impressed with yours.
Narrow your search by looking for designers in your area. Many will also be listed in the Yellow Pages. It’s easier to communicate ideas face to face, and local designers will be easier to meet and confer with. But if local talent doesn’t meet your requirements, don’t be afraid to search nationally. Most designers can work via telephone and e-mail.
Whether you're working face to face or telecommunicating, it’s important to match your company with a design firm that understands your vision and goals. An understanding of the construction trades is not necessary, but a willingness to learn and to listen is a must. It’s also critical to find designers who can clearly illustrate what remodelers must provide to them, in terms of artwork, information and design suggestions.