How to Hire a Web Designer

October 13, 2009

How to hire a web designer

A large portion of my clientele are folks who have gotten a bad deal or, in a lot of cases, made a bad deal for themselves when hiring a designer for their website.

I spend a lot of time cleaning up other “designer’s” messes, in large part, because the client didn’t know a few key things to do when looking to hire a Web Designer or Web Design firm. Following is your six item checklist of things to do before you hire a web designer.

1. Make Sure the Web Designer Has a Website

This is HUGE mistake number 1!

Come on folks. This is so obvious, it is almost embarrassing to mention. However, for some reason, this gets the pass often. Never, what’s the word? NEVER hire a designer or design firm if they have no site. It’s like hiring a money manager who is broke!

Are they active in Social Media? Do they promote themselves? If not, how successful will they be build a marketable site for you?

Do they blog about their business? This  is a good indicator of what and how much they know and understand about the business of designing a successful web site.

If you answer no to any of these questions, chances are, they can’t help you either.

2. Make Sure They Have a Portfolio

Check out their client list and portfolio. Do you like the design style? Good, now dig deeper. Are the sites live? This is a very good indicator of the clients satisfaction level.

3.  Ask For References

No brainer again. If they have happy clients, they will happily supply references. On the other hand, if they hesitate; that loud sound going off is a warning siren!

When you check with the references, ask these questions:

a. How was their experience with the designer?
b. Did the designer seem knowledgeable about the “business” of the internet?
c. What are their results?

4. Pay Attention

When meeting with the web designer or firm, make sure to pay attention to every detail. See if they ask you about your business, goals and target market? See if they offer suggestions to broaden your target market, business ideas and online marketing efforts?

Are they taking detailed notes and offering suggestions of what type of site would be effective for your business and explaining why? If not, ask why not?

Are they taking the time to explain the web design process explained to you so you know what to expect?

Are they organized?

Does it feel like the are running a business?

These are all things that any professional web designer would cover during an initial client meeting. If they aren’t bringing any business savvy to  the table, it’s probably because they don’t have any.

5. Ask Questions

During the meeting ask the company how familiar they are with your industry. Is this important? Yes and no. I lost a client to a designer more familiar with the aerospace industry – and I can assure you that in this case, it did not make any difference. Unless the designer is creating content, this is not really necessary.

Ask them what programming languages they use. A good understanding of various programming languages is helpful.  Ask them if they can build content management websites or sites that will allow you to update the site in the future. For us, this is a must. We exclusively use WordPress as an amazing blog platform and content management system. Most business sites do not need systems like Joomla or Drupal. Those are usually overkill and not very simple to self-manage.

Have them detail their web design experience and tell you how long they’ve been in the industry. Ask them if they are familiar with search engine optimization. Ask them for examples of their results.

You are the client, so do not be afraid to ask questions.

6. Go With Your Instinct

Most people have pretty good intuition. If something doesn’t seem quite right, it most probably isn’t. If this is the case, continue with your search until you find a company that you can trust.

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