How To Confidently Hire a Web Designer

Often when people make the decision to hire a web designer to design a professional website, they end up stalling on it because they are not sure who the best person for the job is. Without the expertise of being a web designer, many people feel lost as to what they should be looking for, what questions they should ask and how can they feel confident that this will be successful. They hear lots about business strategy, branding, design, and technology and it can be overwhelming. Here are some things to think about when you are evaluating web designers to hire. 

A Custom Site or Based Off of a Template

There are two main ways that sites can be built, with a template or a custom design and build. Generally, I find that templated sites are better for businesses that are just starting out, don’t have specific design requirements or don’t need a lot of functionality. 

Custom sites are generally better for growing businesses as they have more of a focus on business strategy and can have an added level of branding and design. Custom sites are totally tailored to your business and based on your goals. This means that every element will be thought of and tailored to your specific business. 

Communication is Key

When I am talking about communication, we are going much deeper than just, ‘Do you get along?’ You need to be able to get along with the person who is working on your website, but it also deals with how you will communicate. 

Think about your own communication style, do you want weekly phone check-ins, just email, are you comfortable using a project management system? It is likely that each designer is going to have their own system so it is important that you can work with that system because breakdowns in communication add a lot of time to the project. 

You know yourself better than anyone if learning a new system or piece of technology is something you can’t stand, you probably aren’t going to want someone who relies on a project management system for communication. On the other hand, if a technical organization is something you love, then using a project management system might be a great component to the project.

Why Timeline is Critical

If you have a date that you need to launch by, it is important that you share that with the designer so that they can be honest about whether your timeline fits into their schedule and process. Even if you don’t have a date you need to launch by, knowing the timeline upfront can help frame the project in your head, especially when it comes to the parts you will be responsible for. 

Process is More than Boring Bullet Points

Most designers will have a similar general process, but there can be some important clues in the process that will give you insight. The first is whether they talk confidently about their process. An established process helps a project run smoothly and makes sure things aren’t missed, because the steps are clear and act as a guide for the project. 

Additionally, although we talk about web design, there are designers that only design and the deliverable will be a finalized Photoshop document that you will have to find a developer to finish. This is fine, I am all for knowing your strengths and focusing on what you are good at, however, it is important for the client to know if the final deliverable isn’t a fully functional website.

Reputation

Does the designer’s website show testimonials and examples of past projects that they have worked on? By having these examples, it shows that they are an established business who has worked with clients before. When testimonials are present, especially with names, it shows that real people can attest to the work of the designer. 

Case studies and portfolios are also important pieces to a designer’s reputation. Take a look at the pieces they include and look both at design and functionality. Depending on what you have in mind for your own website, these pieces can give you clues as to whether this person can deliver what you are looking for. Is there a range of styles showcased or generally the same types of design? If it is the same type of design and your business is something totally different, you might want to look elsewhere. 

Content Delays are Real! 

Content is the bane of the existence of anyone who has ever created a website. Talk to almost any designer and they will tell you that the most delays on any project come from content creation. This is why it is important to know the designer’s process for content. If the client is responsible for content, when is it due? Many designers require all content upfront, this likely means that you won’t be able to start right away, unless your content is already complete. Some designers require it later in the design phase or some even wait until development. Other designers have a copywriter that collaborates on the project to write content that converts for the client. Think about what feels most comfortable to you. 

Contractors: Good or Bad? 

Find out if a designer uses contractors and if they do, who else might be working on the project. Contractors are not bad, especially if it is for parts of the project that are not in the designer’s expertise. Many designers bring in contractors for development because they know that the result will be a better product. I bring in a team member for copywriting because she produces great results for my clients. So contractors can be a really wise choice, however, it is always good to know that they are working on the project as it will make communication easier later on in the project when you know who is working on what. 

Post Launch Training and Support

Once the website is built, the website will be yours and represent your business that’s why you need to look at taking care of your site after launch when you are looking at designers. There are a number of considerations that come in here. The first is whether you can update your site easily. Even if after completing your content you never want to touch it again, at some point it will require some changes, even if it is just adjusting prices. You’ll want to sure that you can do that yourself quite easily. 

Websites are not “set it and forget it”. They require updates for features and security. You’ll need to do backups and updates to keep your site in top shape. This may be too much for you, so find out if a designer offers support and maintenance. Even if you are planning to do this all yourself, it is good to know what is offered if plans change or you need to outsource something. 

The final thing to think about in this category is training. No one expects you to immediately take over a website and know how to do everything (or anything), so find out what type of training the designer provides so that you know how you will learn how to use your site. You’ll thank yourself later for asking these questions. 

Hiring a Web Designer Doesn’t Have to Be Overwhelming, You Just Need to Know the Questions to Ask

There are a lot of things to think about when you are looking to hire a web professional. I’ve put together an interview guide to help you ask the right questions when you are on a consult call with a designer, plus there are spaces to record their answers to easily compare after you’ve interviewed a few. Download it below! 

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About Clare

My mission is to help business owners grow their digital presence - so they can not only achieve their business goals, but surpass them. Above all, I’m guided by my passion for helping others to take their ideas from concept to reality. As a business owner myself, I take incredible pride in the work I do, and am grateful for the opportunity to help other business owners bring their dreams to life.