Design dynamics

What measures can be taken by logistics companies when creating a website to ensure the finished product is successful?

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By  Asif Kilwani Published  May 1, 2007

Question: What measures can be taken by logistics companies when creating a website to ensure the finished product is successful?

Expert: Asif Kilwani
Managing director, AAN Designers

Getting started

A website can help you expand your business, but getting one up and running can be a major project. Simple steps can be taken to get started and steer clear of pitfalls. Firstly, before contacting any website designers, you should have some idea of what you're looking for. A Google search of the logistics industry should list a number of companies as comparables. Browse these sites, and examine their functionalities, appearance and comprehensiveness. There's no one way to create a good website, so make a list of those you strongly like and dislike. This list will be very useful to your designer as they try to create a site to match your business and your vision.

Listing your needs

Once you have an idea what you like and dislike about other websites, determine what information your website should contain. Make a list of the information you want to appear on your website. For example, you might require an ‘about us' page, ‘product description' pages and ‘services' pages. Write as much copy as possible before contacting a web designer, you can always modify later if necessary.

Determine if there is a corporate image or brand already created, such as a logo, standard fonts and standard colours used in printed materials. If not, will creating this image or brand identity be a part of the project? If so, be sure to discuss this with the website designer before you're given an estimate. Decide if your website will require constant update through Content Management System (CMS), particularly for sections such as ‘news and press releases' and ‘products and services' which often require frequent updates. Will the project involve application development, such as online event registration, inventory management, quizzes that show results or calculations, and password-protected registration systems? The development of database-driven applications and features such as these often drives up the cost of the project.

Finding a designer

Professional web design companies almost seem outnumbered these days. The market is flooded by freelancers all offering a solution to your web design problems. Many of these smaller companies, on the face of it, offer competitive rates and may even sound professional - using the right web related jargon like ‘search engine optimisation', ‘e-commerce' and ‘meta tags'. Whilst you may be attracted to the low rates these individuals charge for their web design skills, a scenario where you may get "exactly what you paid for" is a distinct possibility.

There are many ways to find designers. If you like a particular website, look for the name of the designer in small print near the bottom of the home page, or contact the company and ask who designed their site. Ask colleagues, vendors and clients for referrals. An online web designer directory is often the easiest way to find a local designer.

It is essential to review the website designers' online portfolios. Question whether you like their graphical style, whether they possess enough experience in creating the features you need, and if their location is convenient for the type of contact you require.

Finalising your requirements

Next, send your list of requirements to three or four designers. Ask for a proposal and estimate for the entire project. Review each reply and note several things: how professional is the reply, and how long did it take for you to receive it? Be sure you know exactly what is included in the estimate. Are there additional fees for imagery? Who will make updates to the site? Who will host the site? Who will own copyrights? How long will it take to complete the site? What are the payment terms? There's no single way to choose one website design company over another, but remember that great website design companies are a combination of graphic, technical, marketing and consultative skills. When contrasting one company versus another, find out what the design process is, also identify if you are dealing with a company that will deliver what it thinks is right for you or one that will take the time to truly understand the scope of the project and the market.

Before automatically going for the lowest bidder, calculate the risk of a bad or mediocre site in terms of corporate image, revenues and opportunity losses.

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