How to Find and Hire a Web Designer

If you’re thinking about redesigning your organization’s website, it can be a daunting process to start. If you’ve never had to look for a web designer before, or have had a bad experience with one in the past, you probably have a lot of questions.

I’ve been on both sides of this process. I’ve had to search for web designers to assist on projects, and I’m a web designer myself. With that experience and perspective, I hope to answer a lot of your questions and give you clarity on the process of searching for a web designer.

We’ll be taking a look at these main questions:

  • When do you need a website redesign?
  • What do you need for a website reason?
  • Who should be your web designer?
  • How much should a web designer cost?
  • Where do you find a web designer?

I also want to clarify that when I say “web designer,” I’m using it synonymously with “web developer.” There are differences between the two. A “web designer” typically focuses on the frontend of the website, and designs the layout and style – the “look and feel” of a website. A “web developer” typically handles the backend coding, putting in the features, and turning the “designer’s” concept into a reality. A decade or more ago, you might have needed both – a designer to make the concept and a developer to put it together. But with today’s technology and most people being multi-skilled, it’s usually the same person doing both, like myself. Also, if it’s a bigger project, such as a website that has app-type functionality, then you may have multiple developers, designers, and other roles working on the site. But for the majority of small businesses and nonprofits, you’ll usually have just one person building the entire site. Even in agency settings (I’ve worked for agencies before), they’ll assign one person to build your website.

So web designer/developer in this article are the same thing. Let’s get started.


When Do You Need a Website Redesign?

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You want to be smart with your budget and time, so there should be a solid and compelling reason to redesign your website. However, the majority of clients I get tend to start too late. They really needed a website redesign 5 years ago, but they’re only pulling the trigger now. Still, better late than never. Here are some of the most common reasons.

Outdated Website Design

The website just looks old. This is the most common reason, because most people can tell. The problem with an old-looking website is that it degrades your brand’s image, reputation, and trustworthiness. Visitors question if you’re in decline or even still in business. Ultimately, you lose customers because they don’t have the confidence to do business with you.

Issues and Errors with Website

You might notice that some things on the website don’t look right or don’t work right. Websites are built with software, and just like any other software, it needs to be updated. Ignoring this will eventually result in your website producing more and more errors. Sometimes your visitors will let you know. But just imagine all the visitors who encounter an error but don’t bother to tell you. You’re losing money and don’t even know it.

Revenue Decline

Whether you take payments or donations, you noticed that your revenue has plateaued or is declining. This could be due to a lot of factors, but one of the things to consider is your website. Are there less visitors or fewer transactions? If you can identify that your website is in part responsible for your slowing income, it’s important to invest in it now before it gets any worse.


What Do You Need for a Website Redesign?

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Now that you’re ready to redesign your website, there are some things you need to prepare. You can’t just go to a web designer and say, “Redesign this.” A good web designer will review all these things with you, but it’s good to go through them first and prep as much as you can.

Site Tree

Know what pages you want on your website, and how they’re organized. Over time, it’s easy for websites to accumulate pages. You end up with redundant content, forgotten pages, or links that don’t make sense. The best way to do this is to make a simple indented bullet point list. List your top main pages, then any subpages that fall under them. Ensure they feel logical. Then outline what content goes on each page.

Written Content

Sometimes your website just needs a design refresh and all your text stays the same. But more often than not, it usually requires rewriting. Have someone in house rewrite any necessary text, as they would know the organization best. Then have a professional copywriter, in-house or contracted, to refine the content. Sometimes your web designer or agency can help you with the copywriting refinements.

Media Assets

Though you may have photos, graphics, and videos already on your website, redesigns can often involve resizing them or cropping them. Gather all your media together to hand over to your web designer, whether on an external hard drive or on a cloud platform like Dropbox or Google Drive. Make notes of media that you want used in specific places on the website.

Sample Websites

In describing what a website should look like, meaning can get lost in the words we use. Making something “pop” can be interpreted a lot of different ways. Confusion in communication over the design of a website can be costly and prolong the project. The best way to avoid this is to curate a list of websites that you want to emulate. Then note specifically on each website what you like, along with what you don’t like.

Conversion Goals

Most decent web designers will make you a pretty website that’s easy to use. But a great web designer with a marketing mindset will also focus on making sure the website accomplishes its primary goals. Determine what the purpose of your website redesign is in terms of actions, whether it’s increased time on the website, more page views, more email leads, more transactions, larger transactions, etc… A professional web designer will ensure that the design, layout, and content work together to nudge visitors towards those goals, and still make it look pretty.


Who Should Be Your Web Designer?

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You’ve probably heard horror stories of web design projects gone wrong. Maybe you’ve had that experience yourself. That can make you worried or hesitant about hiring a web designer. But you don’t have to go in blind. Treat it just like you would hiring for a high level position in your organization, with the same level of diligence and scrutiny. Here are a few things to look for.

Their Website

First look at their own website. It should be obvious, but if they’re a web designer, they should have a good website. Not just a good one, but a stellar one. If their website looks subpar, then avoid them. If they don’t invest the time and care into their own website, why would they do the same for yours?

Portfolio & Testimonials

Just like a resume, a web designer should have a work history, and that comes in the form of a portfolio of websites they’ve built. Look through them and ensure that the style and quality match your expectations. You can also check if they in fact did build that site by looking at the very bottom for a link back to their own website. This isn’t always the case, as some clients prefer not to have this. But for the majority of websites I’ve designed, you’ll find a “Designed by SparkFlow” line at the very bottom as a sort of “authentication.” Testimonials also matter, though they can of course be made up. But if you really need to verify, you can always try to find that person to confirm their experience with the potential web designer.

Clear Strategy

Your web designer should communicate with you a plan for how the website will be built. This includes a timeline and milestones that both of you agree on so the project stays on task. There should be built-in drafts and reviews at different stages, so the website doesn’t stray too far from what you envisioned. If the web designer needs certain content or media from you, there should be deadlines for getting them from you. And after the website is finished, your web designer should have some options for how to maintain and update the website.

Bonus: Marketing Expertise

As I mentioned earlier, a good web designer with a marketing background will inject additional value into your website. They will not only make your website look good, they will optimize your website for results, thinking through how visitors will interact and engage with your website. Ultimately that’s why you have a website – not for visitors to say it looks nice, but for them to take action with your company.


How Much Should a Web Designer Cost?

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There’s no simple answer to this, and I know that’s not what you want to hear. It would be like asking how much it costs to make a movie – it really depends.

Factors to Consider

Experience and skill are the biggest components. If a web designer has more projects under their belt, or has worked for bigger or more well-known clients, they can charge more. Someone just starting out will charge less. Other factors that will affect your web design costs include:

  • How big your website is
  • Any unique features you need outside of regular pages, such as a blog, eCommerce or donation system, or accounts with logins
  • The complexity of layout and design you want
  • Whether you need help with secondary tasks like writing content or finding images and graphics
  • How fast you need your website finished
  • Where the web designer is located

With that in mind, you can get a generic website made from a template, with minimal pages, for $200-$500. That’s good if you just want something up quickly and don’t care too much about the branding or style. On the other end of the spectrum, agencies can charge $20,000-$50,000 for a website design, but this is usually reserved for larger companies with more complex websites. If you’re a small to medium sized business or nonprofit, you can expect to pay in the range of $1,000-$5,000 for a “standard” website, and maybe $5,000-$10,000 for larger projects.

Upfront Pricing

Most web designers don’t publish their pricing publicly. They prefer having a consultation first to pitch the project, then present the price. This is to prevent turning off potential clients with the “sticker price.” It’s a preference, and it’s not right or wrong.

I personally like to place my pricing upfront on my web design page. I believe that clients want to compare pricing before taking time to go into negotiations. It saves both the client and the web designer time – you and I don’t have to waste a meeting if I don’t fit into your budget. The upfront pricing certainly isn’t set and will change after reviewing the scope of the project, but it helps provide a close range to see if you have the budget for it.

Fixed Price vs Hourly Rate

This is a matter of preference both for web designers and clients, but I’m going to make an argument for why fixed pricing is better. Fixed pricing means that there is a single price for the entire web design project, and both parties agree to it. The other option is hourly pricing, in which the web designer has an hourly rate and bills based on how many hours they work.

The problem with hourly pricing for you, the client, is that this can often exceed your budget, which is the gripe for many people who work with contractors. Even though the web designer might give you an estimate of how many hours they expect to work on it, they may go over and start increasing your bill. And you don’t really know if they’re doing the work for those billable hours.

But hourly pricing is also a disincentive for both the contractor and the client. You want the website done faster, right? But the web designer wants to get paid more. So if the web designer is really good and gets the job done in half the time, they get paid half the amount. There’s no incentive to work faster. So they take twice as long to finish the project, which means you pay twice the amount.

With fixed pricing, if the web designer gets the project done faster, they get paid the same amount, but it ends up being a higher “hourly wage” for them. So they’re incentivized to work faster. That means you get your website faster, which is what you want. But if it takes longer to do, you don’t pay more and don’t have unexpected costs. It’s a win-win for everyone.

You, as the client, deserve to set a budget and stay within it. Web designers who are skilled and can do faster work deserve to be rewarded, not penalized. Of course, if there is additional work that extends beyond the scope of the original project proposal, then that would be billed for extra. If you take a look at my web design services, I have fixed pricing for different tiers of websites. These prices are sometimes negotiated to match the custom project, but in the contracts I send to clients, everything is outlined in terms of what is expected for the website with a fixed project price.


Where to Find a Website Designer

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You’re ready to redesign your website, you’ve gathered everything you need, and you know what to look for in a web designer. Now, where do you find one? Here are a few places, and it helps to try multiple.

Ask Your Friends

This is the easiest way to get someone trustworthy. You trust your friends and colleagues, and if they’ve had a good experience with a web designer, you’ll probably trust that web designer. Ask around, and you’re bound to find connections. This is actually how I get the majority of my clients – previous clients have had really good experiences with me and recommend me to their friends. But that doesn’t mean you should go with them right away. Evaluate them with the same rigor that you would apply to any other potential web designer, and feel free to not use them. They may be good, but just not a fit for you. If you go with a web designer just because you feel obligated to, it can be a bad and costly experience.

Ask a Social Media Group

Join some professional groups on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media platform. Post asking for a web designer, along with specific details of what you need. You’ll get a lot of responses either directly from web designers or people will recommend one.

Find Websites You Like

If you like the work, find the artist. Look around at websites that you like and want to emulate, especially in your industry. Scroll to the bottom and see who designed the website and reach out to them. This is probably the best method of getting the quality of website you’re looking for, because you already know what to expect. This is how some of my clients have come to me, by reaching out based on another website I’ve built.

Post on a Job Board

Here’s the traditional method. You’ll get the largest selection to choose from, but it’ll also be more time-consuming to wade through all the applicants. You can post on general job boards like Indeed or Flexjobs. Or you can look at job boards that are more geared towards freelancers. Here are a few:

Here’s a bit of advice from someone who’s also hired contractors. You’ll get a lot of applicants who don’t read the job description and are just mass applying. There’s a way to sift them out. Put in your job description directions to answer a specific question in a nonconventional way, or include something nonconventional in their resume. For example, you might ask a question about what their favorite companies are. In the job description, tell them to answer with something ridiculous like “Comcast.” Or, ask them to list a certain skill on their resume like “basket weaving.” Any applicants who don’t follow those directions can be weeded out, because you know they didn’t read the job description or are not very detail-oriented.

Work with Me

I’m a web designer. If you found this guide beneficial and agree with what I’ve said, the easiest and best option would be to get on a Discovery Call with me to see if I’m a good fit for you.

I have expertise in design, marketing, and copywriting, so I can create a website that’s aesthetically beautiful, user-friendly, and serves your organization’s goals.

You can see the past projects I’ve done, along with testimonials, in my portfolio. I have upfront, fixed pricing listed on my web design page, so you know if it’s within your budget before we talk, and you can compare it with others.

Start a free https://sparkflow.co/start/web-design/ with me to see if we’re a fit and how we can accomplish your business goals with a website redesign.

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