Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Websites help businesses showcase their services. They should also be profitable with the perfect blend of visual appeal and visitor usability.
Websites also help deliver a message explicitly crafted for a specific target audience. Messaging that can articulate a brand's promise and build brand trust.
So, hiring the right website designer is key. But, all website designers are not created equal.
Many business owners are figuring this out the hard way. They are learning that a crappy website will result in nothing but slow profits.
And, with so many people out here creating poorly designed websites, I know you are scared. Scared of getting ripped off or stuck with a design you are unhappy with.
So, here's my holy grail rundown of how to best go about hiring a website designer for your brand.
1. The website designer should have a good-looking website.
It is okay to judge a web designer based on their website. If you visit their site and are not impressed, you can expect your website to look the same.
Now, if you feel like you don’t have an eye for design to judge, here are a few things to check for:
Does the website look outdated?
Do page elements seem too close for comfort?
Do page elements look out of alignment?
Does the website have numerous typos ad broken links?
2. Don’t judge the potential quality of a website based on price.
There are pricing guidelines out there. But, many designers do not know that this type of research exists.
Some people know these guidelines exist but don't care to align with them. For the most part, many designers are just trying to provide fair pricing if they are, indeed, ethical. This attempt to figure out pricing often leads to designers under or overpricing their services.
Just expect that the more reputable to company, the more you may pay for the service. Price differences would be like comparing a Michelin-star restaurant to a fast-food joint.
What you must do is work within your budget. This means you must have a realistic budget. I know you want quality work. But, realistically, quality work will never be cheap. And if it is, someone is cutting some corners.
So, penny-pinch if you want to, but it's very likely you will be doing yourself no favors. With this said, check out 5 Dreadful Mistakes To Avoid That Will Ruin Your Website.
You may not see the value in investing more money than you want to in yourself. But, going dirt cheap is what has led to a slew of lousy website designers on the market.
These are designers who have clients flooding social media timelines with website design horror stories.
3. Determine why there is a difference in the price of two website designers.
There are various reasons for price differences, and you must compare them with a leveled head.
A designer may be more expensive for a few reasons, including:
Having the clientele to be more expensive
Offering more website deliverables
Creating custom vs. templated website designs
To find out where the differences lie, do not be afraid to show the deliverables of one designer to another. Ask why the prices are different.
Now, if you really like a designer but cannot afford them, don’t desperately go for the deal that seems too good to be true.
Instead, ask the designer to scale the website design back to something in your price range.
This way, you can have a website design you can build out over time with them. It is better to work with someone who will provide a solid foundation for your website than not.
4. Check to see if the web designer has a portfolio.
If a designer does not have a portfolio, either they are new or do not have anything good to show to the world.
If the designer is new, prepare to be a guinea pig. If they are not a good designer, best believe they will not do much better at designing your website.
And, please do not hire a company just because they list a bunch of clients but show no work.
You don’t know if these clients are real or fake. Now, if the web designer has a portfolio, see if they show variety or if their designs look very similar.
If their designs look very similar, and it is what you like, by all means, contact the designer. In any event, always check portfolios before signing a contract.
5. Does the designer only compose layouts, or do they create graphic designs as well?
Technically, web designers are responsible for the computer-related aspects of a website project. These responsibilities include:
Writing code for website functionality
Making sure the layout of a website looks well put together
The graphic designer handles visual concepts. One person can do both, or two people will need to complete your website.
If who you hire is just a website designer, you will need to hire an extra person. But, if you find someone who does both, be ready to pay that one person the same way you would pay two people.
This person had to double-duty to build up both skills, and you’re paying for expertise.
6. Beware of poor customer service.
From the start, if a designer is unresponsive, has a bad attitude, or jerks you around, don’t do business with them.
Also, stay away from designers that take more than a day to get back to you. If they are too busy or lazy to reply promptly, you can expect this when working together.
And, don't expect a response on the weekends, holidays, or when the designer is on vacation. Be considerate.
Something else to be considered is the designer's on-boarding process. If a designer does not have one, you should rethink working with the designer.
A designer should have a step-by-step process to get you to your end goal of having a fabulous website design.
They should also have questionnaires and document the discussions they have with you.
7. Is your website designer in your location?
Guess what? It DOES NOT MATTER where they are located! There’s NO NEED to sit down with a website designer in-person.
If you need to have a meeting, a video call or phone call will do. This is a computer-based service. Be considerate and think about travel time and costs.
If you’re not willing to pay for transportation, travel time, and for meeting time, don’t make designers travel.
What should matter most should be the designer's customer service and work.
8. Is your designer committed to learning about your industry and business?
A web designer should ask questions about your business, audience, and business goals. A website should not be created without knowing all the above and more to align with your business goals while pleasing your clients.
9. Your designer should give you options.
A website designer should either give you:
More than one design option to choose from...
Or, give you the ability to request edits to a design created.
Some designers will do both, but find this all out before approving the quote or proposal.
10. Don’t expect your website designer to be your marketing agency.
A website designer should not be expected to do more than design your website.
Some agencies offer more than one service because they have the staff to handle the request. But, most agencies do not excel at a laundry list of marketing tasks.
Have an honest conversation with your designer. Learn what their strengths and weaknesses really are.
11. Good Designers and Good Clients Respect Deadlines and Meeting Times
A website designer should be able to provide a rough timeline of how long the project will take. Just know that it can never be exact because edits will be part of the design process. So, be realistic.
Also, many times, you, the client, end up holding up progress on your website. With this said, treat people how you want them to treat you.
If you don’t want a designer making you wait forever for a response, don’t make the designer wait for you. It is not only unfair but borderline abusive.
12. Your designer should offer a formal service contract for your project.
Even if you provide a deposit to start work, a designer should be clear about what you want and if they can do it for you.
They should also follow up your conversation with a service contract. The contract should outline:
Terms of the service
Who owns the domain and copyright to your website (as you should)
Graphics and content ownership (once paid for should be all yours)
What happens in the event things go badly
Photo ownership (the photographer owns the stock photos)
And, their termination policy
13. Will the designer maintain your website after the initial design?
Not every designer wants to or can manage the sites they create. In this case, you may have to find someone else to do this.
Whether it is another designer or a virtual assistant, the person must know how to maintain your website.
14. Does the designer create easy to maintain websites in the event they cannot, or will not, manage your site for you?
The worst stories I hear are from people who have a website but are unable to update it. Now, their business is suffering.
15. Does the designer provide original and editable source files?
Sources files will help you to make website changes in the future without any problems. And you don’t want problems.
This wraps up the 15 things you should consider before hiring a freelance website designer. Now, let’s get more personal. Lastly, think about how you feel after talking to the designer.
Do you feel like you can have a good rapport with them?
Do they seem comfortable discussing their expertise?
Was the initial conversation productive?
Can they turn the design around by the time you want it?
I hope you like the bonus questions. All I want is for you to be armed with the information you need to make the best buying decision.
No one wants a headache. You want a smooth design process. Happy hunting!