How to Choose a Web Designer
When it comes to choosing a web designer for your business it can be hard to know who is going to offer you the best service possible for your budget. The issue is only compounded with digital marketing techniques where everyone claims to have thousands of happy customers or be the best in the industry. This blog is going to outline what you need to know before hiring a web designer and a few questions to ask them when you are vetting them for your project.
Not all web designers are the same and some will have skills that others do not. Some will have strong design skills and be able to combine these with SEO or copywriting for instance and be able to produce a website that is strong in areas other than design, but it is important to remember that depending on your needs you may need to hire other professionals to help you with your website design project other than the designer themselves. For instance:
- Web developers – they can produce bespoke solutions to your requirements for the functions of your website.
- Copywriter – will help produce content for your website that will help with conversions and SEO.
- SEO Consultant – will help get your website ranking better in Google searches.
- Graphic designers – are useful for branding, logos and website graphics.
It is rare to find a web designer who is skilled in all of those requirements, most will specialise in one area over another and combine it with their design services.
Check Their Portfolio
The first thing you need to check before hiring a website designer is their portfolio, why? Once you have a feel for their design style of design you can judge if it is to your liking, if it’s not you just saved yourself a lot of time and effort. Every website designer has their own style and flair when it comes to the layout and some even have their own trademark design process, this is not to say websites are just carbon copies of each other, but they each will have their own design process that makes them stand out from other web designers. For instance, some web designers like to have clean lines and others might prefer to have parallax design styles included.
Whilst a web designer can share their portfolio it is important to remember to also judge them on their own website, why? Well, client websites are often influenced heavily by the clients themselves, and the web designer might not have had complete autonomy when it came to what formed part of the overall design.
When checking out the web designers portfolio be sure to look out for things such as:
- Does the site flow well and is easy to use as a visitor?
- Does it look great and work on both desktop and mobile?
- Does the site have a branded favicon (the little icon in the browser tab)?
- What types of additional functionality do their sites have such as eCommerce etc?
Cost vs Budget
The second most important thing to check when looking for the right web designer is cost, after all, if the web design company charge more than your budget will allow, you have already hit a stumbling block. Quality website design services are not cheap, this is not to say it has to cost an arm and a leg, however, but if you are paying an upfront cost of less than £500 then chances are your website will not repay your investment.
Cost plays a major factor in any business purchase and often people think of a website as just a luxury, but a website is often the first point of contact for your business that someone will see – if it looks cheap and tacky the perception of your business from there on in will be cheap and tacky. The same goes for functionality, if a prospective customer finds it hard to use your website they will assume doing business with you is also just as hard.
Most website designers will have a blog as it is one of the easiest ways to market your business, but also a great way for them to show you what knowledge they have about the industry. It is this knowledge that you are paying for when hiring a designer, not the design itself. The knowledge of the designer will determine the outcome of your overall project. Web design is a constantly changing industry and other aspects of digital marketing bleed into it such as SEO, content marketing among others, and a strong knowledge of these aspects, as well as a deep knowledge of web design and its factors, is essential.
Social proof aka reviews and testimonials is probably one of the best ways to judge if the designer or design company is a good fit for you – as they show if their previous customers have been happy ones! There are not many businesses that will have a 100% positive review – as it is hard to please everyone, however, the reviews should give you a good feel for how they perform with clients both during and beyond the initial design phase. If the web designer or web design company have a lot of negative reviews then chances are you should probably stay clear, but if there are a lot more positive than negative then it is worth a chat with them at least!
What to Do Once You Have Chosen a Web Designer
Once you have narrowed your selection using the information above it is then a good idea to get a list of specifications that you want your website to have, any design ideas you may want to include and other critical factors and send it to the web designers. This will allow the designers to know what it is you need and want from your website and will also allow you to know more about how they work and if their skills are there to complete the project.
To get really specific on this you should also probably include a series of questions designed to narrow down your choices into the perfect fit. We have listed the top questions below we think you should be asking before making your decision:
- How will my website be made, for instance, will it use a content management system or be fully custom coded? This is important to know from the start, as it will determine if you are able to use the website or not on an ongoing basis or will be tied to the company to update or load blogs etc.
- What is their design process? As in do they ask you to sign off at certain stages or is it just here’s the finished project. This is important to prevent any delays in the process that you might not be aware of.
- Ask when their next available design date is – not all designers will have immediate availability and ensuring you are aware of timescales beforehand will save any disappointment.
- Ask if they outsource any of the work – this might not seem important at the early stages but if the outsourced work was to break at a later date how easy would this be to rectify etc.
- Ask how many revisions/Rounds of edits are included – knowing if you are going to be charged to ask for amendments or changes in advance is critical in case you do not like elements of your site.
- Will I own my website? It is very important to know if you actually own your website or does the designer. Some companies will claim to have copywritten the design of the website as the creator, and you won’t own the design so it is important to know this in advance.
- Ask if they offer hosting and maintenance services – all websites need hosting and will need to be maintained, so knowing if this is part of the package for a set period or if this is not available in advance allows you to plan ahead.
Finding the right website designer is not hard if you know what to look for and by now you should have a grasp on the basics of what to ask and look for. As a business owner, it is imperative that you work with the right team on your website – you have a million and one things to think about and jobs to do so making your website as stress-free as possible is the key to its and your success.
Here at E2E, we are experts in small businesses and how they operate and here to take the strain from your shoulders when it comes to getting an online presence that works for you. We are a team of dedicated small business specialists who know precisely what it takes and have the tools, the skills and the passion for helping your business succeed online.