How to choose an all-star web designer
Like a thunderbolt from the sky, you’ve been hit with an idea that will almost certainly turn you into a billionaire. However, while weighing up the pros and cons of a luxury yacht versus a private jet from your squeaky office chair, a nagging question arises.
How am I going to get this idea on the web?
Enter the web designer. Not only do they understand the technical requirements for getting your website online, but they also know how to make it functional, visually appealing, and easy to use.
Put it this way, if you were creating a home, they’d be the architect, builder, and interior designer — all rolled into one.
So how do you go about locating such a multi-talented individual? In this blog post, you’ll discover some handy tips to help you find the perfect match. But first, let’s clarify why you need a web designer in the first place.
Why does good web design matter?
Let’s imagine it’s your lunch break, and your mission is to find a toy for your niece. You head into a toy store, and it’s cluttered, messy, there are no signs, and no hovering sales assistant waiting to help.
You quickly exit, toy-less, frustrated, and disappointed.
A poorly designed website can leave you feeling the same. We’ve all landed on clunky websites that are impossible to navigate and leave you with a negative impression of not only the company but the service they offer.
Web users are fickle. If a potential customer doesn’t like your website, they can be off and browsing your competitor’s website in two clicks of a mouse.
What to do first
Choosing the perfect person or organization to assist you can seem daunting, especially if your experience with the web is limited to checking email and falling down the occasional YouTube black hole.
Finding the right match is integral to the success of your website. Like choosing a pair of running shoes, it has to be the right fit, or you won’t feel properly supported.
Luckily for you, we did the hard work so you don’t have to! We contacted professional web designers and design agencies for our fabulous Guru Guides, and asked What’s your #1 tip when hiring a designer?
Here’s what they had to say on the matter.
Know your idea inside and out
If you’re not clear on your vision, how do you expect people to be able to communicate it and customers to buy it?
Jared Ponchot from Lullabot urges you to:
“ask questions about why you’re doing your project and how you expect your organization to benefit from it (e.g., increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction, etc.).”
Ponchot goes on to say that once you know,
“you can more effectively evaluate the strengths of potential designers/vendors to see if they match the needs of your project.”
Dan Bowen, CEO of Bowen Media suggests taking the time “to define and understand the mindset of your target audience.”
Once you’re at a stage where you know your audience and what you want to say, you can comfortably inform a web designer who can then use their expertise to communicate that idea.
Do your research
Our experts say that you must put in some groundwork and research the individuals and agencies that are available.
Andrew Ruditser from MAXBURST suggests you read “what their clients write about them across multiple channels.” He goes on to say that you should “review their online portfolios to make sure their work is aligned with your design tastes.”
Ian Loew, owner of Lform Design went one step further, suggesting that you “call clients listed on their site to get a true sense of how they are to work with.”
The more you know about the person or people you’re considering, the more you can ask and ascertain how capable they are.
The questions you need to ask
It’s so easy to be swept away by a smooth-talking salesperson who promises the earth. Asking the right questions before you start the process will help you to solve conflicts before they arise.
We asked our experts What’s the best question a client could ask? Here’s what they said.
Ask about the cost
The last thing you want to do is spend ages deliberating over potential website designers and discover that your budget doesn’t work. It’s vital to confirm what you’re getting for the price you’re paying.
Kara Jensen from Bop Design says:
“Many times web design firms will just give you a price for design or development. While other firms will give you a price that’s all-inclusive of design, development, copywriting, photography/video, and SEO.”
Importantly Jensen highlights that choosing the lower-priced option could end up costing you more time and money in the long run. If you’re starting out or this is a side hustle alongside your day job, money may be tight.
Be upfront about what you want
Honesty is integral to creating a good understanding between client and customer. Jason Schwartz from Bright Bright Great assures,
“we can’t read minds, so we wish they would ask questions that they have been thinking about but haven’t shared with our team.”
Lullabot’s Jared Ponchot echoes this and wants to hear clients asking what else they can do to help achieve their goals. He says that this question “opens a dialog for more effective collaboration.”
Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts during the process. If your communication lines are open, your dream website will be easier to create.
Show that you’re serious
Ponchot also suggests asking, “How should we prepare to work with you?” and says that this question shows that as the client, you’re open to refining some of your practices.
Bowen suggests asking the potential web designer, “What will our involvement be during the lifecycle of this project?”
Offering your assistance will show that you’re willing and keen to be involved.
3 ways to be a better client
Here’s a round-up of some of the best ways you can be a great client to work for and with.
1. Don’t keep people waiting
“Giving timely feedback and/or content” is critical to the process, says Loew. If you’re slow about providing answers, the process will be slow and lose momentum. Keep the process flowing by delivering what your web designer needs.
2. Don’t complicate the process
Jenson says “The fewer people involved in the project, the quicker it goes,” while Ruditser suggests “making one person the point of communication.”
If too many people are involved, organization and sign-offs can be difficult, so keep communication lines clear, and restricted to a select few decision-makers.
3. Give honest feedback
Ponchot suggests having the web designers in the room when the decision-maker reviews the project.
“It’s usually best for communication to happen in as unfiltered a manner as possible to avoid additional problems or limit opportunities for greater success.”
In other words, don’t sugarcoat your feedback. The more the designer knows, the quicker problems can be solved.
Start your online adventure
Hopefully by now you’re armed with some great tips on finding a fantastic web designer!
If you haven’t already secured a domain name for your big idea, what are you waiting for?
Search for a domain name today.