Toolbox Blog: resources, tips, tricks & info for creative professionals

Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

March 19th, 2009

Should Your Web Developer Be Your SEO Consultant As Well?

SEO/Design/Development JuggleMost people not in the industry think about SEO as something that is done outside the actual website, if they’ve done their research then it will be all about link building, blog posting, PPC, etc.  The truth is there are an awful lot of things that can be done within the coding of a site that can make or break any SEO effort – we call this ‘On-page SEO’.  For more specifics take a look at our Simple Guide to SEO post, but it suffices to say that ignoring this type of SEO can kill a campaign before any ‘off-page’ effort has even started.

Ideally your web developer will know about these practices, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has the time to stay up-to-date on the constantly changing SEO world AND continue to move forward with the latest design techniques.  ViceVersa, don’t expect your average SEO consultant to be able to design and code your entire website.

There are people out there who are experts in both areas and can effectively build your site and manage your SEO, but they are few and far between.  Nine times out of ten attempting to cut costs by having one person do both will backfire.  Another option is to hire different people/agencies for each component.  It is a valid strategy, but there are inherent potential problems with this type of set up.  Any SEO consultant worth his salt will want to take a look at your website’s code, and will probably want to make at least a few changes.  Suddenly  issues of file access and permissions pop up that can really complicate, not to mention drastically slow down, the process.

The best possible solution is to have your site designed by an agency who employs both designers/developers and online marketing specialists.  You’ll end up with a coherent and more successful website because of the smooth communication between the two camps.

March 10th, 2009

Land a Job in the Web Industry

Today’s job market is competitive to say the least, and you need to be able to stand out from the stack of resumes to make overwhelmed interviewers sit up and take notice.  Here are a few resume and interview tips that can help you land a position in the web industry.

Resume Tips
  • Be Clear and Focused: Your resume is not the place to tell your life story.  Stick to experience that is relevant to the exact position you are applying for.  Furthermore – within each job or web project listing point out the activities that are relevant to the position you are applying for now and try to leave out the rest.  Also consider using a list format, it’s easier to scan and will force you to leave out superfluous details.  The idea is to strike a balance – make sure its as easy as possible for the people in charge of hiring to get the basics, but have enough information on there to make it clear you are qualified for the job.
  • Promote Yourself: Your resume should make it crystal clear why you deserve the position.  Include everything that adds value i.e. talk about whatever programming language you are an expert on, apps you’ve built, the projects you managed, what exactly you were responsible for and how everything ran smoothly.  Also make sure you keep your language professional, but don’t be afraid to put in a bit of your personality.  It will help you stand out from the stack of resumes you are competing with, and anyone can spot insincere business speak anyway.
  • Quality not Quantity: It’s important to include a portfolio – but it shouldn’t contain every single site you’ve ever worked on.  Pick out a reasonable number of your best sites and include links to the actual sites.  Screenshots are great but won’t cut it alone – most of the people responsible for hiring will want to check out your code, the site’s usability, etc.
Interview Tips
  • Be Professional: An interview is usually the first impression, and you won’t get another chance.  First of all you should dress appropriately.  In the web industry this can be a bit tricky as workplaces are generally more casual, with not much in way of a dress code.  However part of the first impression you make will be based on your appearance – so its best to look good, example: no need to wear a suit, but stay away from jeans and sneakers.
  • Be Informed and Interactive: The ideal interview is a 2-way conversation.  Sure the interviewer will ask questions, but if he doesn’t ask about something you are particularly proud of on your resume speak up and talk about it.  Do some research so that you are able to discuss the organization or website and actually know what you are talking about.  It’s also important to ask questions, remember you are trying to see if the position is a good fit for you, not just vice versa.  Research will also help you know which questions you should be asking.
  • Don’t show up empty-handed: While this is sometimes part of a resume, you should always bring a portfolio to your interview – and you should be prepared to leave it with the interviewer.  Make sure it is put together well (on nice paper, in color, maybe in a folder etc.) and that it serves as evidence of your best work.  This is standard procedure and expected, showing up to the interview empty-handed will imply you are unprepared and/or disorganized.
  • Follow Up: This is perhaps the most over-looked component of the interview process.  A few days after the interview make sure you follow up with the company to re-emphasize your interest and qualifications.  Realistically this won’t make a big difference if the interview didn’t go well, but if the interviewer is deciding between a few people the candidate that follows up will get the job 9 times out of 10.  So whatever you do, make sure you follow up – be it through a thank-you note, email or short phone call.

Once you land the job check out our post: 5 Great Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Web Designers

September 5th, 2008

Dashboard Updates

Newly added this week is an article describing 7 Essential Website Maintenance Strategies.  We also have another e-commerce processor to add to this new category, Authorize.net helps online merchants manage their transactions.

Another useful tool that was suggested is SiteUpTime, a website monitoring service that checks your site at regular intervals and notifies you if problems arise.

Finally, we’ve added oDesk – a site that brings together buyers of services and the service providers and enables them to find mutually beneficial working relationships without a middleman.

May 23rd, 2008

5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Design Agency

If you only ask a prospective web design company five questions, here they are…


1. Can I see some examples of your work completed on a similar budget and scope?
Seeing a designer’s portfolio is usually the first and most obvious method to evaluate their design capabilities. But, take it one step further by asking to see projects with a similar budget and scope of work. This should provide you with a clear expectation of what you’ll get for your money.

If you want to go even further than just looking at the designer’s portfolio, ask for two references that you can contact. Once you have the references in hand, give them a call and ask a few questions about the designer:

  • What goals did you have for your website?
  • To what extent did the designer’s work accommodate those goals?
  • How easy is the designer to work with?
  • Was the project completed on time and within budget?

2. What will be delivered? When can I expect it? What will it cost?
Ideally you want to look for a design company that will turn over the complete design and code upon completion, finish your project on-time and within your budget. Communicate your expectations for each of these and see if the company agrees to meet your expectations.

It is important to determine whether the project has a fixed price or billed hourly. In most cases, a fixed price is preferred because it sets your payment expectation and motivates the design team to complete the job quickly.


3. How will the site be managed?
It’s easy to get caught up in the web design process and forget to address the long-term management of the site. The last thing that you want is for your site to be designed and launched and then not know how to manage or update it. Save yourself the hassle and ask how the site will be managed before signing.

You need to determine if there is any software that you will need to manage the site. Furthermore you may also need the designer to provide some level of training on how to manage and update the site when needed.


4. Can you explain some of the technologies that you plan to use for the web design?
The technologies used for developing a website are important, but even more important than the answer itself is how the agency answers your question.

Did the designer talk in a language that you understand? If they use a large amount of technical jargon that is hard for you to follow, this may predict poor communication throughout your project. Effective communication during the design project is critical to getting a final product that meets or exceeds your expectations. Take care to choose a designer can explain their work in a way that you understand.


5. Do you have any questions for me?
Possibly the most important question that you can ask a web designer is if they have any questions for you. This puts the ball in the designer’s court and allows you to see what their approach to the project is.

Any designer worth hiring should at least ask a few clarifying questions (the more, the better). More specifically, you should expect a designer to have at least a few questions that focus on the business goals for the site, the website requirements and how the success of the site will be measured. Hiring a designer that doesn’t have a solid grasp on your expectations is a recipe for web design disaster. If they don’t know what you want and need then you aren’t going to get it.

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