Finding a website designer is easy. The difficulty lies in finding the right designer for your website. Even references do not play much of a role when it comes to choosing the best. Why? It is not necessary that the right designer for someone else will be the ‘right’ designer for you.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a website designer for your business.
However, with a little prep work you can make the process a little easier.
Moreover, today I am sharing my guide to finding the best website designer for your project and make the search as stress-free as possible.
First, let’s quickly run through what a website designer is and where to start your search.
In broad terms, a website designer creates the design and layout of your website based on your unique set of requirements. A good website designer will have the skills to not only create a nice looking website but also make it fit for the purpose. Website designers usually fall into two categories – either they create the design and outsource the development, or they take care of both the design and development.
Website developers work on implementing designs into a working version. The actual design may have been done by someone else, and they only work on building the functionality.
So where do you find your ideal website designer? You could:
- Ask your friends and family for recommendations
- Seek recommendations from fellow business owners
- Put out a request on social media
- Visit websites you like and check if the designers link is included in the footer
- Alternatively, open up Google and start a search
Now we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get searching for a website designer. Here are seven points you should take into consideration.
Every successful website does more than just look nice. It has a function, a purpose. Without that, it is just a pretty website with little substance.
So before you even begin your search for a website designer, you need to figure out exactly what you want from your website. Having a clear picture in mind of the goals for your website will allow you to find the most suitable designer.
The goals of your website depend entirely on your business, but examples include:-
- Selling products or advertising services online
- Getting people to sign up to a newsletter to send them regular offers, news, etc.
- Encourage signups to email or online courses
- Taking bookings for services
- Allowing people to contact you for further information
Style & Method of Communication
Communication is a key element in a successful client and designer relationship. Without clear communication, the project suffers, and you can be left feeling let down and misunderstood.
To avoid any communication mishaps ask your prospective website designer their preferred method of communication.
Some designers use the only medium of email throughout the project development which is perfectly fine. However, if you prefer to meet in person or have a regular phone or Skype calls you may find this is not possible. Finding this out before you begin will save you any frustrations or problems later on.
Along with the method, the style of communication is also a crucial part of the website design process.
During your initial discussions with a designer, you should not be left feeling confused or overwhelmed. A good designer will be able to break down the process for you, without you needing a jargon-busting guide.
Portfolio & Client Testimonials
Most website designers have a portfolio section on their website to show off a selection of previous work. Take a good look at the projects in the portfolio as this will give you a better idea of the styles and capabilities of the designer.
It is important to not only look at the appearance of the websites but also the functionality.
- Are they easy to navigate?
- Do they have a clear purpose?
- Is the information and contact information easy to find?
A website designer who produces websites that look good, but lack in functionality, may not be able to deliver a goal-orientated website.
Client testimonials are another fantastic way to get a real sense of a designer’s abilities from the people with whom they have already worked.
Did they help clients achieve their goals? Were they able to produce high-quality solutions that generate the desired results for their clients? These are some result metrics that you need to know about the designer. These would help in determining the true potential of the designer you are looking to hire.
Reading testimonials and case studies can give you further peace of mind. You can be sure that businesses are willing to endorse the designer and their work. Don’t be afraid to reach out to their previous clients to ask further questions about their experiences.
Planning your budget should be a top priority when considering a website design. It can be a significant and deciding factor when choosing the website designer for your project.
Website designer rates vary greatly and can range for $100 to $20,000+ for a standard website. Quite a difference, right? A budget will immediately help you narrow down the designers who can do what you need within your price range.
Think of your website as an investment in your business. Moreover, as tempting as it may be to go with the cheapest option to save money, it is not recommended. A website that doesn’t fit your needs or performs well is going to cost you more in the long run and have a significant impact on your success online.
Timescale & Availability
Do you have a timescale for completion? If so, ask your potential designer about their estimated timescales and availability.
You may find that some designers have immediate openings whereas others are booked out months or even a year in advance. It is best to ask up front so that you can factor the time for completion into your launch.
Ownership Of the Website & Domain
Typically website designers have a contract detailing the terms and conditions of their service. Within the document are details of what to expect from the designer, the requirements from you, payment schedules and importantly, the website copyrights.
This may not seem like a big deal when you excitedly sign the contract and get to work on creating your website, however, it can cause problems in future. Let’s say; you decide to move your website, who would own the copyrights after the move? This is a complex issue which should be taken care of at the time of the contract signing.
It should be stated clearly as to who owns the copyrights of the website and files upon completion of the project.
Similarly, if a designer purchases the domain name on your behalf, is it registered in your name or the designers? Are you able to transfer ownership to yourself or will the designer retain the domain if you decide to change provider in future?
These are all complex intricacies of an agreement that should be dealt with utmost focus before you get into a binding agreement.
Is After-development Support Provided?
After your website is live, does the designer provide you with after-sales support? You will always have questions or need help once the website development is complete. Particularly, if you are not hands-on with updating and maintaining websites on your own.
Ask any potential designer if this is something that they provide or whether you would need to look at additional sources.
Most good designers will offer some support post-launch, either in the form of email, video or online consultation. Whatever the case maybe, you need to decide which services you need support for and for how long.
It is also worth asking if the designer offers an update and maintenance service. You may not want or have the time and resources to make regular updates to your website. Having the designer take care of that side of things for you can save you a few headaches in future.
A website is an important business asset that needs to be placed in the hands of a designer with knowledge and experience. Having both practical and design capabilities will ensure that your website fulfills your desired goals.
Finding a website designer that can help you do that does not have to be intimidating or challenging. By taking the time to research potential designers and getting clear on your plans for the website, you can make it less stressful. Moreover, the right designer is a worthwhile investment in your business future, especially in this digital age of technology.
Author Info: Claire Muldoon is the founder & designer at Wildflowers & Pixels. With over ten years of experience in the design industry, she specializes in creating websites and branding for small businesses across the globe. You can follow her on Twitter @wildflowerspix.