How to choose a web designer
With thousands of website designers out there, choosing a web designer can be a daunting task. So how do you choose a web designer? Here is a list of things to consider when choosing someone to design (and maintain) your website:
Does their web portfolio provide a list of websites that have the same overall look and feel (style) of the website you want to have? Does their website portfolio show websites that are built on the platform or have the general elements of the website you want? If these portfolios show websites that offer similar layouts, styles, and elements to the site you want built, then that web designer can probably design it for you. If not, this may be a "portfolio builder" for the web designer. This can mean that this designer man not have a clue of what to look for in terms of functionality, testing, and how to make future updates to the site.
How easy is it to work with this web designer? What type of service and website can you expect to get? Look at their client testimonials. Were clients willing to provide testimonials to the developer? Were they willing to provide a testimonial on platforms that links their name, such as Google Reviews and LinkedIn? If not, why not? What is this web designer hiding?
Freelance designers often question whether to charge a flat rate or hourly rate? Flat rates can be tricky. If a website designer offers that, be sure to look into what you are really signing up for. If you sign up to have a website built for a flat rate, what does it include? If you go over the allocated items of that package, how much are you being charged for?
People think that a flat rate web design will save them money- that they will pay one amount and that's that. However, if you go over the amount of changes, or want another plugin, or are just modifying an old site versus starting new from the ground up, flat rate providers often have high additional fees.
Hourly rates allow customers the freedom to choose what they want for their site, make as many changes as is needed within their budget, and have add-on elements that are not usually offered in package deals. If you are choosing someone with a flat rate versus hourly rate, review the details of what really is and what isn't included. Additionally, if you are choosing someone with an hourly rate, ask them what they charge for and what they don't (i.e. Do they charge for changes and email/communication time? Do they charge for the hour they talked your ear off about politics and coding developments, etc.).
Does your personality match or clash with your web designer's personality? You will be working with this designer for awhile. If you cannot meet eye to eye in the beginning in the content strategy planning stages, you will not find a happy medium later on when deadlines and budgets are approaching. Find someone that will make this process fun and hopefully, rewarding. This is YOUR business. Find someone who will help represent you AND be a joy to work with.
Who is the web designer's priority: themselves or you? Are they so engulfed with making this website so beautiful that they forgot to think about your budget? Are they so excited to work on a new module or plugin that they forgot to see if it matches your overall marketing goals and business well-being? Finding a designer that is an advocate for your business is a must. Therefore, when decisions come up about adding social media elements or mapping software or custom plugins and modules, your designer knows whether or not to spend any time researching it based on if it matches your marketing goals for your business and your budget/timeline.
Does this designer match your budget? Furthermore, what is your budget? A business website is one of the most essential tools for successful marketing today. But just having a website is not the issue: you need a functioning, tested, branded, and search engine optimized website with good content, great imagery, and web marketing basics implemented. If not, your site will be lost in cyberspace.
Do some research and/or call a handful of designers (in your country) with your scope of work for your site. You can gain an understanding of what is the standard for what you are asking for. Then see if these ballpark figures are within realm of one another. If you get an outlying, low-ball estimate, ask to see a breakdown of what they are really offering. If you get an incredibly low-ball estimate compared to 3 other similarly priced quotes, something is not lining up. Ask them:
- Are they using programmers and designers in your country to do the work or are they outsourcing to another country with poor working conditions? (If so, are these working conditions something that is reflective of the ethical standards of your business and do you want to be associated with supporting such practices?) If so, what accountability is there for when something goes wrong? And, if these outsourced programmers are involved with an eCommerce website, do you feel comfortable not knowing what web programmer where has all of your bank account information?
- Are they using stock imagery, video, or music that they have purchased the licensing to (and is that included in the estimate)? Or will you get a call one day for copyright infringement and a copyright lawsuit because they have stole those elements and cut corners to save a buck?
- Are they quoting you an html site that requires you to contact them every time you need a change made? Or are they quoting you a content management platform where you will be empowered to make your own content changes?
- Do they even know what they are doing? You can hear it in their voice. If they can't explain how the process works, what to expect, and they give you a million "yes's" without asking you enough questions, they most likely are looking for a fast buck. Just because they can build a website, doesn't mean they should.
As always, you get what you pay for. If you want your website to perform, you need a good designer (and a great marketing plan, but more about that in another post). Be willing to adjust your budget to what is necessary to get the results you are expecting.
Golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. Same goes for business. If you want to be paid what you are worth, then pay others what they are worth. Yes, sales are great and please take advantage of them. But if you are asking a web designer to do something for free or cheap because they are a friend or because you feel you are entitled to free service, what are you getting in return? Are you getting their best work?
The value of a good website is incredible: websites are an amazing tool that if created correctly and are aligned with a marketing plan and team to implement the plan, they can attract hundreds- and possibly millions- of new clients during it's lifetime. If you find a designer that you like and adheres to the standards of above, be willing to pay their price. They will be an incredible advocate for you and your business, and most likely will perform way beyond the value of their fees.
Finding a good website designer can be challenging. But if you take the time to go through list above, you will most likely find someone who can create a perfect site for you and your business (and can be fun working with in the meantime).