Jeffrey Zeldman is the founder of Happy Cog, a web design and development studio. Normally I probably wouldn’t make a habit of linking to the competition — but Happy Cog’s starting budget is north of $100,000. If the budget for your website is $100,00+, then you may have bigger needs than what Lemon Productions can help you with at this time. We’ll see where we’re at in a year or two.
Anyway, back to the reason I bring up Zeldman. In this Inc. article on How to Fix Your Retail Website, buried near the bottom is a Q&A with Zeldamn on the right way to retool your website that includes some great nuggets of wisdom that can apply to whatever project/budget size you have:
Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make during redesigns?
A: They’re seduced by lots of features. A restaurant might be tempted to add a virtual tour. But these days, people look for restaurants on mobile devices; if you have a Flash site that doesn’t work on 15 percent of smartphones, that’s bad.
Q: How do you hire a good designer?
A: Beware of people who seem in a rush to say yes or sell you features; often what you’re getting there is a template that they use for all their customers. You’d do better with someone who takes the time to learn about your business and figure out what you really need.
Q: Should you trust your designer, even if you disagree with his ideas?
A: Business owners should think of designers as architects, not decorators. You wouldn’t tell an architect to build something that’s not structurally sound. A good designer has technical knowledge—don’t treat her like someone who’s there to decide whether something should be pink or orange.
Be sure to read the rest of the article as there’s some great tips and ideas if you’re running an e-commerce site — particularly if you haven’t updated your site in 5 years like the example site they use in the article.