10 Tips for Finding a Good Web Designer
Web designer services is a large industry, that has no intent on losing momentum in its growth. Having a website built always sounds like an easy task, but unfortunately there are practices in the web designer industry that are lackluster. While we at The Clever Robot would love the opportunity to work with you, we understand that our offerings as a web designer may not always perfectly align with your needs. Instead of throwing our hands up in the air and saying “Sorry, can’t help you!” we’re going to lay out the top 10 things to keep an eye out for when searching for a web designer.
1. Be Specific With Your Search
While searching for a web designer, it is often tempting to look for an outsourcing option. Using a business overseas may cut down on the overall expense of the upcoming or planned project, but for a different and less fiscal price. Instead search locally via Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. If you live in Winston Salem, try typing in “web design Winston Salem“. If you’re in Albuquerque, type in “web design Albuquerque“. If you have a specific need such as app development and web design, incorporate that into your search.
2. Get A Referral From A Friend or Colleague
No, this does not mean ask a friend to build you a website. If you have a friend, relative, or acquaintance that has a website you like, ask them who built it. Alternatively, if you find a website online that you really appreciate the look and feel of, message the owner of the business or organization and ask for a referral. Bonus points for asking about the experience of having the website built.
3. Does The Web Designer’s Own Website Function?
As silly of a question as this sounds, sadly it is not rhetorical. There are hundreds of “web designer” companies that don’t have properly functioning websites of their own. Steer clear of these, if the “designer” was on your list of potentials, remove them. If you’re feeling courteous, you’re more than welcome to send a polite message to the “designer” alerting them to the issues. If after 24 hours they don’t fix the issues for themselves, chances are they will not fix your problems in a timely fashion either.
What is the quality of work that the designer produces? Do all of their websites look eerily similar? Are the websites listed in their portfolio functional? Feel free to message the owners of those sites and ask about their experience with the web designer. While online reviews can be bought, expunged, or edited; messaging the owner of a website built by the designer you were interested in will more than likely give you an honest opinion. Hiring a “cookie cutter” web designer may cut your project time down considerably. Unless you are okay with your website looking identical to every other website they produce, I would advise against using that particular web designer.
5. Read What Is Included. Carefully.
If the designer has their package options openly listed, read the information carefully and make sure that you are selecting a good fit for your needs. If you need a web designer that also does SEO services, make sure that is listed in their services offered.
6. Keep Your Intellectual Property To Yourself
A terrible practice in the trade of web design that needs to be watched out for and abolished is signing away your rights to your own intellectual property. That’s right. There are web designers that want to take your money, build your website for YOUR business, and want to keep your domain name and the website as their own property. Your website that you have paid for should always be just that, yours. You should always be in control of own site, and have ownership of it.
7. What Content Management Options Are Available?
If your web needs include you being able to update the content of your site on a frequent basis, make sure that you are able to do those updates yourself. Any reputable web designer should provide at least an hour of training upon completion of your website. This training should be customized to meet your individual needs. Aside from teaching you the basics of the content management, you should also be instructed on how to perform everything you would need to do within the website. While having someone pay for lengthy updates is acceptable, you should not have to break out your checkbook to change one photo.
8. Contact The Designer
It’s easy to base and build presumptions and assumptions off of a website or a pile of online reviews. Do yourself a favor, pick up the phone, and call the designer directly. First, do they even answer the phone during their business hours? If not, you could leave a message, but be wary. Do they just blast you with technical jargon and expect you to understand it? Do they simplify their dialogue and break things down with you? Are they giving you the feel of a used car salesman and just talking quickly until they hear yes? While some people may appreciate the “nerd talk” or “geek speak”, you may not. Find a developer that is willing to explain things to you if you need it. Extra credit is awarded to any designer that wants to set up an appointment for you to visit their office.
While you have this face or phone time with the designer ask questions such as:
- Can you provide a list of references?
- Do you do this full-time?
- How long have you been doing web design?
- What is your process?
- What is the typical budget range for your projects?
- How are payments done?
- What is the typical timeline for your projects?
- When can the project be started?
- What do you need from me before we start?
- Does the price include making the site mobile friendly?
- Will the site be supported by retina screens?
- Do you custom design or use templates?
- Who will own the website design when it’s paid for?
- Do you offer maintenance or post-launch support?
- Who is the contact person and who is doing the work?
- Is anything outsourced or subcontracted out?
Please be mindful though that the web designer is taking time that could be used finishing a project speaking with you. While it’s perfectly within reason to utilize the entire 60 minutes of the 1 hour meeting, stretching it out to being a 2 1/2 hour meeting is slightly excessive. If you have a 2 1/2 hour meeting, then drop off the face of the earth and refuse to respond to any follow up calls or emails from the designer; don’t expect them to jump at the drop of a hat when you finally resurface months later. Be courteous.
You had your phone meeting with the web designer two weeks ago, but still haven’t made a decision. Did the web designer you were interested in follow up with you at any point? Keep an eye out for correspondence patterns. Is the web designer you were interested in frequently unable to be contacted? Don’t expect the web designer to be anxiously waiting by the phone, they may be busy. Leave a message. Wait and see. However, if a week has passed and you have heard nothing back after an urgent voicemail, that may be a sign that correspondence is not the strong suit of that particular web designer. A good web designer is one that will keep tabs on you and genuinely cares about your business. They may not share your same enthusiasm for edible kale slippers, but at least make sure they are willing to give 100% on your project!!
10. Don’t Settle For Less
Hiring a neighborhood kid, relative, or a student to be your web designer needs is always tempting. Instead of forking out a few grand, you can probably get your website done for a case of beer and a hundred bucks by the neighbor’s son. This approach may have all the financial advantages, but keep in mind that there are severe disadvantages to this.
Experience – The person you’ve hired on is not a web designer, there WILL be issues they don’t know how to solve and you run the risk of living with a broken website.
Maintenance – While Jimmy may be home from college for the summer? Will he be available 4 months from now to do the pressing updates you need performed?
Support – Do you yourself know how to use the website or are you stuck with a digital headache? Will Jimmy mind if you call him late during exam week with questions about your site?
While the web designer you want to work with may be slightly outside of your budget, take the time to see about financing options. Ask the web designer if the project could be started a few months out, or if you can book them for in the future. Use the “down” time while waiting for the project to save up more money and get better prepared for the worthwhile investment of a new digital footprint.