When starting up a new Internet Business, choosing a website designer is a crucial decision, as a good website can bring you more business and a bad one can drive away prospective customers. Below are some important things to consider when selecting a website designer for your new site or if you are needing your site re-designed.

• Pay attention to how much they ask you about YOUR BUSINESS. They should want to get to know you and your business intimately. How else can they design a site that reflects you and your business, unless they spend time to get to know what you are all about.

• Talk to some of their current and recent clients, to see how smooth the process was.

• Look at sites they've designed to see if you like their style. Is there a certain feel to ALL their sites, or are they flexible in their designs?

• Ask them if they did the actual graphic and layout design of the site, or if they just did the programming.

• If they don't do the graphic work themselves, do they have access to a graphic artist who can design logos and graphic elements for your website? When you are fortunate enough to find a person who does both the graphic work and the layout, then that is a good sign of talent.

• Ask them what they know about internet marketing and search engine optimization. Be sure that they're creating a site for you that meets your larger marketing and business goals.

• Ask the designer for their fees (expect to pay between $60 – $200 an hour, depending on their skill and their location), and what is the estimate of cost for the site you want. They may not be able to give you a good estimate until you discuss content and features of the site. Some people choose to employ a designer that is overseas, which is cheaper per dollar to hire.

• Ask them how they bill you. Will they invoice you monthly, or when certain milestones are reached? Do you have to make deposits?

• Pay attention to whether they'll try to stick within your budget, or whether they keep suggesting new add-ons that increase to the cost of your site. Remember, designers aren’t responsible for your budget, you are.

• Ask them whether they will maintain your site after the initial design, and how much they'll charge for that. Some designers want to create new sites but don't want to maintain them. See if they offer a maintenance place that is affordable, so until you get to know your way around adjusting your own site (if you have the time to learn), they can make adjustments for you.

• If you're going to maintain the site yourself, ask them if they'll design your site in a software package that's easy for YOU to use, like FrontPage. Many professional website designers look down their noses at FrontPage or Adobe Contribute, but guess what? If you want to maintain your site yourself, then you have to use a software package that's easy for YOU to use, regardless of the website programmer's preferences.

•Ask your designer for editable files (example: html files). You need to be assured that you will be able to edit your website (or have another designer to edit your website) with ease.

• You have got to enjoy talking and working with them. Do you LIKE the designer? Do you believe they'll act ethically? Do you enjoy speaking with them? Do they stay focused to the task at hand, or do they ramble and waste your time? Do you feel you "click" with their personality and values? Do they offer you invaluable insight and advice about your site design?

• Tell each prospective website designer what your deadline is and ask if they can meet it. Many good website designers are already booked for the next 4-6 weeks, so you may have to wait for the designer of your choice. If you don’t have a specific deadline, brainstorm with the designer to create a good working deadline that you can both meet, especially if you will be doing the job of writing the website text. By doing extensive interviewing of potential website designers, you’re more likely to pick one that can do the work you want, is willing to really listen to you, can create a site that reflects you and your business, and keeps within your budget.