How to Hire a Web Designer
After being in this industry long enough to know how to spot nightmare jobs and how to find a legitimate designer, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on not only hiring a web designer, but also working with one on your project.
- View a potential designer’s website. Check out the design. Does it look modern or like it was built in 1993? Click around to see if stuff works. As a web designer, I have been utterly amazed to come across a few other “designers” who don’t have a website. All I can think when web designer does not have a site of their own is “SERIOUSLY?!”. You want your designer to have a clue. This means a website of their own that represents their capabilities.
- Check out their portfolio. A potential designer doesn’t have to have a huge portfolio but what’s in it should signify that they know what they’re doing. Also, don’t necessarily discredit them if you don’t like the way their stuff looks. A bigger consideration should be if it functions properly. The client is the one that describes that they’re looking for in a design and the designer does what he/she can to give that to them. Your taste in design may be different from someone else’s.
- Talk to them. Email your potential designer and see how long it takes them to reply. Personally, I make sure to reply within an hour or two so I believe that quick, effective communication should be a requirement. Web designers are in front of their computers a lot so there’s no reason why they can’t reply right away. Even if they’re away, a good designer is usually somewhat tech savvy and likely has a smart phone that syncs their email and lets them reply.
- Try to determine they’re sales nature. Are they pushing all sorts of things on you that will rack up the bill? Do they tell what you need rather than listen to what you need? A quality designer should have the same nature as a doctor with great bedside manner: they should listen and understand. A web designer that pushes you to spend more money is a salesman first, designer second.
- Are they easy to talk to? I treat my clients the exact way I’d want to be treated when considering a purchase. Quality, truthful information and a personal connection is way better than a sales pitch and being pushed to purchase.
- Assess the value. What are you getting for your money? Does the designer outline everything that will be completed during the course of building your website? Better yet, do they offer a service agreement that guarantees their performance? Don’t look for the cheapest web design deal because cost shouldn’t be your primary concern and you may regret it. A great way to assess the value of what you’re getting is to consider what you stand to gain if having a professional website will bring you even just one customer. Then compare the potential to what you stand to lose to your competitors by not having a website. A business website is an essential tool in expanding your business and creating more income. Another way to look for value is to find package deals. Web design packages usually include an array of services and offer more value for your dollar.
- Strongly consider a local designer. In the unfortunate event that you need to bring legal action against a designer, a long distance lawsuit will be a total nightmare and, likely, not even worth it. You’ll have much better luck knowing that the person you’re working with is not too far away.
- Research the designer. Do they have a social media presence? Do they blog about relevant topics? This is a great way to see how serious they are about what they do. If you’re looking at hiring a local designer, see if they have any local listings in the Yellow Pages (check online because a free listing is available from YP so there will be more) or online directories. Just make sure they have stuff out there that is intended to bring them business. If a designer doesn’t care about putting in the effort to get new business, they may not care about putting in the effort on your project.
These tips cover how to ensure that your transaction goes smoothly once you’ve hired a web designer. Not only do you want to make sure your designer does a good job, you also want to make sure not to rub them the wrong way. A good designer can be a useful resource and you may need him again in the future.
- Make sure communication does not diminish. This goes both ways. You want your designer to still reply to your emails but you also need to be prompt when they need something from you. Do not go crazy emailing the designer about every little thing because that won’t be appreciated.
- Don’t try to micro-manage. You’re hiring a web designer because you don’t know how to do the job yourself. It may sound blunt but it’s true. You hire them for their expertise and you need to let them do their job. If micro-management is necessary, consider hiring someone as an employee because you can manage them all you want (the same is not the true about an independent contractor). Project requirements are necessary and should be complied with by the designer and it’s perfectly acceptable to make sure they’re being fulfilled. Additional requests also need to be taken into consideration and incorporated, whether at an additional cost or not.
- Get periodic updates and review progress. A reputable designer should submit a detailed proposal with a timeline for how the project will progress. You will not be burdening the designer by inquiring about progress. However, keep the inquiries at a normal level. It isn’t necessary or polite to constantly ask when every detail will be completed. If the time has approached for an aspect of the site to be completed and submitted for your review, get in touch with the designer if they have not updated you.
- Understand that web design is a business for anyone serious enough to do a good job. Don’t try to drastically change things after you’ve agreed to a proposal or back out of the deal. Also, don’t force the project to be dragged out over small things. When you agree to pay a price for a defined service, that designer is relying on payment the same way any business would. Remain professional and let your designer know if problems arise.
- Make sure everything promised is delivered. If 2 hours of WordPress training or 1 month of support was promised, make sure it’s delivered. You’re paying good money for web design services and you deserve to get what you paid for.