You’re ready to build a new website or redesign an existing one, but where do you look? In the sea of freelancers and agencies, how do you find the right web designer?
Your website is a crucial part of your business – it’s your digital business card.
Your potential customers and clients make instant decisions about whether they want to do business with you or not based on your website.
So naturally you want to have the best looking website possible. But it’s not all about skill. You have a budget to factor in, and you need a web designer that you can trust and work well with.
But how do you find the right fit?
Hiring the wrong web designer can end up being disastrous for your website and your budget, and may force you to start from the beginning again. Believe me, I know – I’ve worked with clients where we had to start from scratch because their previous web designer failed horribly.
From that experience, here are some tips for hiring the right web designer for your new website.
What You Need for a Website Design
The more information you know about what you want your website to be like, the better of an experience you’ll have with your web designer.
1. Content & Outline
Have all the text for all the pages written out and outlined. Unless you’re working with a web designer who is also a copywriter, they won’t write your content for you. It’s easier to design a website around existing content.
Have images that you want ready for your web designer to choose from. They may help you with finding stock photos if you need to, but make sure they know that.
3. Design Styles
Your logo should be a must. But also determine the colors and fonts you want to use, unless your web designer is also going to do your branding.
4. Examples of Other Websites
Prepare a list of websites you like. It’s often difficult for a designer to know what you mean when you say “modern” and “professional.” Show them websites you want to emulate, and note exactly what you like (and don’t like) about them.
5. Primary Goals
Know what you want people to do on your website. Whether it’s sign up for leads, purchase products, donate, etc… This helps the web designer create a website with that goal in mind. This often falls under the category of an online marketer, but some web designers can do this too.
6. Designated Point Person
If you have multiple people on your team, designate one person, whether it’s you or someone else, to be the point person for the web designer. Having multiple people contact the web designer with their own input only slows down the project and adds more confusion. Don’t loop the web designer into a multi-person email thread. Just funnel all communication through one person.
What to Look For in a Web Designer
It’s always difficult to judge whether a particular web designer will be a good fit for you or not. Even if they come recommended or you’re able to meet with them in person, they may not turn out the same way on the project.
Part of finding a good web designer is luck. But there are other things you can look for that are signs that they are more professional and will work well with you.
Your web designer should have a website, and a good website. Look to the design of their website as a measure of their skill and style. Is their website something you would want your website to emulate?
2. Personal Information
Look for some indication of who they are, such as a bio and profile pic. Look for signs of personality in their write-up. It gives you a better idea of the kind of person you’ll be working with.
Also, personal info gives an indicator that the web designer(s) will be building the site themselves, rather than serving as a middle-man that outsources your web design.
Unless you’re building a simple site that you’re ok giving to someone who’s just starting out, make sure they have a portfolio of websites that they’ve built. Do you like their style? Would you want your website to look like that?
Also, look for a link back to their website at the bottom of the websites they’ve built – that’s kind of like a signature indicating they in fact did build the site. It won’t appear on all of them, as some clients may have opted to not have it there, but it should be at least on some of their websites.
Of course, all testimonials they show are going to be positive. But it’s important that they have them, because it indicates the client had a good enough experience to want to give that testimonial.
Avoid sites that have generic first names and no pictures, they could be made up (yes, I’ve seen that happen before). If the testimonial has a first and last name, a company that you can find, and a picture of the person, then chances are it’s a real testimonial.
5. Fixed Pricing
Not all freelancers do this, but I think it’s essential for ensuring you don’t go over budget. Sometimes freelancers will charge by the hour, give you an estimate of hours, but then go over their projections which cost you more money.
If possible, get a web designer that will offer a flat project price. If they bill in hours, then get an agreement that they will not bill you over a certain number of hours.
This is probably most important of all. This protects you from losing your money or paying more. It also shows the web designer’s professionalism, because it protects them too. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. My contract is only 2 pages, written in very simple language.
Here are some key elements the contract should include
- Price of project and payment methods and timeline
- Deadline of project, with timeline of milestones
- All features and expectations of the website
- Content that you will provide versus content the web designer will provide
- Number of revisions and communication expectations
- Maintenance and support policy after website is completed
- Refund policy
Where to Find a Web Designer
Looking for a web designer can be difficult. You could just Google “web designer” but you’re going to get a ton of search results and ads, and it’ll be difficult and time consuming to sort through them. Here are ways to narrow your results a little quicker.
1. Ask Your Friends
It’s always good to work with someone whom you have mutual connections with. They’ll often be a lot nicer and more patient with you, and perhaps even give you a deal. Email your friends, or just post a status update on social media asking for suggestions of web designers.
2. Ask a Social Media Group
Join a social media group in the field or industry that your website is in, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or somewhere else. Post a question asking for the members to recommend a good web designer. Chances are most of the people in the group had someone design their site, so it’ll give you some good options.
3. Find a Website You Like
Is there a certain website that you really like and want to emulate? Get the same designer. Go to the bottom of that website and see who it was designed by, then reach out to them to give you a quote.
4. Post on a Job Board
There are tons of job boards specifically geared towards web designers and other freelancers. You can post your project and have web designers apply, then you select from the options. Be careful though, you’ll get tons of applications from mediocre to bad. Look for applications that reference specific details of your project – it’s an indicator that they read your post and aren’t just mass applying.
Here are some places to look:
Work with Me
Of course, you can also save yourself the time of searching and work with me. I’ve designed custom websites for small businesses and nonprofits for years. You can see my portfolio of projects I’ve worked on.
You can learn more about my web design packages, and sign up for a free 20-minute consultation.