How To Hire a Web Designer

Rule#1: Know what you want before you ask a web person for a quote.

If the price of a product was dependent on the amount of time that you spent with the salesmen, it’s unlikely that you would walk into a store and say, “I’m not sure what I want. Just show me a bunch of stuff until something pops”. That may be good for the salesman who will get paid to spend hours trying to read your mind, but not so good for you when you go to pay.

Hunting for Web Services for your Business , can be an intimidating process if you have no idea how to proceed. Everyone wants the website of their dreams without paying a fortune for it. To be honest, it’s not the rocket science that you think it is.

We qualify every purchase we make by comparing products, seeing which has the features and functions that we want and even judging them by other products and reputation of the manufacturer, and recommendations from our peers.

After all…when was the last time that you spent the kind of money that a decent website costs, without doing ANY leg work to insure that your money is well spent?

How NOT to do it

The best way to have your web person increase the price. Take forever to get done. Ignore your calls and emails and put other jobs before yours..is to have no idea what you want, have nothing ready for them, and take forever to make the simplest decisions about what you do want. After all, doesn’t time equal money in your business too?

How you SHOULD do it

However, The best way to get the most bang for your buck from a web designer is to take the guess work out of it for him. If you follow a few common sense tips, not only will you increase the odds of getting exactly what you want and need, but you will also avoid over paying for it, and waiting forever for it to get done.

1. Match the web designer’s skills and knowledge to your needs

It’s important to understand that not all web designers do all things on the web. Just because they work on computers, doesn’t mean that they can do every possible thing that is also done on computers. There are 100’s of ways to publish or build something online. Just because someone is versed in, say, flash or animation, doesn’t mean they know beans about Search Engine Optimization, or Database Management.

Ask around. Ask questions. Ask your peers. Just like you don’t want to buy something that is outdated and doesn’t do what you intended, you also don’t want to buy more website than you need and comes with unexpected maintenance fees, over head costs, and requires a PHD in theoretical physics to manage.

If your project requires specific skills, make sure that you ask questions to insure that they can accommodate you. Check out their portfolios and even ask for references if you need to. Sometimes it may be necessary to hire more than one person, and if so, that is something that you want to know up front. If you don’t know whether or not you are asking for something that requires specialized knowledge, just ask. Don’t assume that everyone does everything.

2. Look around at some websites

Before you call a web person and say “I want something that pops”, causing him to run away screaming at the thought of trying to figure out what that means to you ( as opposed to the other 50 people that have said that to him in the past month) look around at some websites in your industry that you like.

Make notes of what you like and don’t like about them and ask questions. Imagine how you would like your company portrayed on that site if it were yours. Keep the links handy so that when you talk to your web person, they have a base idea of what you are looking for.

Or if you really just don’t know, at least be honest up front and most web people will be happy to consult with you about what works based on your needs if you just give them a fighting chance with some kind of idea.

3. Get some color

Do you already have company colors? A logo? Any branding materials at all? If not, it would be helpful if you at least had an idea of which, out of the millions of colors and color combinations in the world, best represents what you like and how you want to portray your company or organization. Need some inspiration? Check out Adobe’s color scheme examples on the web: https://kuler.adobe.com/#themes/

4. What do you want it to do?

What is the goal of your website? Are you trying to attract leads? Give a professional presence to potential clients? Need a place to write articles? Show off a portfolio? Is Social Media important? All of the above and more? Write it down. This is important if your web person is to suggest styling and layout options to suit your needs. If I ask, “What do you want your website to do?”, what will you say?

5. Is mobile access important?

With mobile search and web use quickly out-shadowing use via desktop or laptop, it may be important to you that your website is accessible on mobile devices. This is important for any website designer to know BEFORE he gets started. You cannot save this information and throw it out as an “Oh by the way…” once your designer has already started building your website.

For the most part, website access via tablets is the same a close enough to your desktop or laptop experience that you may or may not need any special coding if tablets are all you are worried about. However, mobile phone displays are vastly different and coding for them needs to be done during the build. Not every designer can build for smart phones.

Not all websites need to be built for mobile devices, especially if it is unlikely that people will be looking for you from their smart phones. However, if this is important to you, you need to make it known up front.

6. Plan the content and pages

No one knows your company like you do. You will have to have some idea of what you want your website to say. A good web person should help you fine tune it for aesthetics, Search Engine Optimization, and other important factors, but most of the base copy should come from you.

Start with the elevator speech. You know, if someone asked you what you do in an elevator and you only have seconds to tell them, what do you say? You’d be surprised how many people can’t tell me what their company does in a few seconds.

What pages do you need, and what do you want them to say? You don’t need to have every word accounted for, but you should at least have an idea of how you want your company represented.

Just about every person that has ever come to me to build them a website, has a list of “tabs” or menu items, with sub menu item drop downs already planned out. But rarely do any of them have any idea what they want those pages to say. By the time we get down to the “nitty gritty”, that list of 20 menu items usually goes down to about 5.

If it’s just too much for you, and you just don’t have the time, most web people can help, or recommend a good copywriter or brand marketer to help you develop your company’s marketing materials.

7. You are going to need images

Whether you have a professional photographer come to your company to take images that you can use for all of your marketing materials, or you go the rout of purchasing stock photography, images are what makes a website. Using sub standard or images of poor quality will ruin the entire project. If your website is product based or it’s sole purpose is to sell products, YOU WILL NEED professionally done images of the product(s). Don’t let images be a surprise expense when you are planning your website with your web person.

8. Have realistic expectations

Sometimes it just needs to be said that you aren’t going to be able to recreate Groupon, or Facebook on the budget of a Girls Scout Troop (unless it is one extraordinarily, well funded troop).

Any reputable web designer will give you price for your project once they have taken into consideration your wants and needs. That doesn’t mean once it’s in hand, that it’s OK to run them in circles, take forever to get back to them, or make constant changes to the original plan. Like all other service providers, more time spent or wasted on a job, means less actual money made.

9. You will be a web designer’s dream

I promise you, if you just take the time to follow a few basic suggestions to take the guess work away from your web designer, they will love you! The designer will look forward to working with you and their proposal price will reflect that. You will also benefit by getting exactly what you want and not anyone else’s interpretation and this will make everyone very happy.

Start doing the prep work now and it will save you time, money and aggravation.

You and your web person both want the same thing. You both want a fabulous website that makes you and your company look great, causing you to sing their praises and refer all of your friends to them.

For a humorous look at the relationship between web designer and client, check out The Oatmeal’s,
“How a web design goes straight to hell”