How To Hire The Right Web Designer The First Time

Over the last 18 months or so, I have had a handful of potential customers come to me looking for a new website design because they weren’t happy with a website they JUST had built for them. Of course I have no problem having an initial conversation with anyone to see if we are the right fit to work together on designing a new website.

What I find most common is that they hire the first person they talk to without knowing what to look for. They spend upwards of $10,000 (sometimes even over $25,000) on something that turns out to be not what they originally wanted or not working for them. Then they call me (most of our clients are word of mouth, which should speak for itself on our quality of website design work) and say this

“We just had a website designed for us that we really aren’t happy with. It doesn’t do 5 things that we find important. Can you make a website that will do these things?”

Normally the answer is, of course we can accommodate their new website needs. Then they say “Ok great! Unfortunately we spent our entire budget on the site that doesn’t work, so can you make one that we really love for 1/20th the price?”

This obviously drives me crazy on two levels

  1. How can you expect me to do a job that you love at a fraction of the price of something you hate?
  2. How can someone take your money and deliver a product that is so poor they immediately want a new one?

These types of so-called “web designers,” are people that give the real, professional, website designers a bad reputation.

Here are some tips on how you can make sure you are hiring the right web designer the first time so you don’t need to experience this waste of money and time.

Check Their Experience Building Websites

NJ Expert Web Design by Tresnic Media

  • Ask for examples of their previous website design work. Do they look professionally designed? Would you trust the company you’re looking at?
  • Ask if they have more graphic design or website design experience. A graphic designer is not the same thing as a website designer. A website designer needs to know how to do more than just make a pretty picture. Website designers need to design an interface that is flexible and scalable for possible future growth and needs. Graphic designers are used to making static designs on paper that doesn’t grow or change. Websites should be constantly evolving, adjusting and growing. A graphic designer won’t be able to provide the best user experience or scalable interface.
  • Ask if they are custom designed sites or templates. It’s common in a low budget situation that a website designer may offer the choice of a few different pre-built templates. This can be ok as long as they are up front about it and you, as the client, are aware and agree to it because of whatever circumstances you are in.

Website Design Process ChartAsk About Their Website Design Process

  • Do they research the market?
    • Are they looking at your competitors to see what is working in your industry?
    • Do they research your target audience to see what they are most likely looking for and what they are used to experiencing on other frequently visited websites?
  • Do they design websites around goals? Websites are not just pretty looking brochures that you can click on. Websites are user experiences that should be designed to help lead your prospects through the sales funnel and become customers. The site as a whole and the individual pages should be designed to accomplish clear business objectives.

Do They Design And Code?

Website Designers Should Also Know How To CodeYou want your site to be properly coded for multiple reasons.

  1. A properly coded website will help with your search engine optimization and showing up on Google.
  2. If something happens to the website designer, a properly coded website will help if someone else has to take over or add things on later. I always use the “hit by a bus” reasoning. If they get hit by a bus, will you be able to access, update and move forward with your website without them specifically in charge?

Will You Be Able To Update The Website Yourself?

Updating Your Own Website with WordPress
You should be able to log in to your website and make simple changes or add new pages easily right inside your browser without any expensive software. Click the image to see a larger screen shot of what the WordPress edit page looks like.

Again, along the same “hit by a bus” reasoning. Will you need to call (and pay) them every time you need to make change to something on your website? What if you want to be constantly adding new pages to your website?

Most websites are built with Content Management Systems (CMS) nowadays and should be easily maintainable by anyone who is capable of sending an email or creating a Word document. There are a vast amount of different CMSes out there, but some common ones are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or HubSpot.

Do They Integrate Measurement Tools?

  • Traffic Source Graph
    Monthly progress reports can show you where your visitors are coming from.

    Do they monitor your site statistics and will you have access to those reports? This will help you see how people are getting to your website, your top performing pages, where they come in, where they leave and a whole slew of other useful information. Most importantly, it will help you learn down the road if you aren’t getting any business from your website if you have a traffic problem or a conversion problem. (Are people coming to the site? Are people coming to the site and not hiring you?)

  • Will they be tracking user behavior? While this may seem creepy as a consumer, it is possible (and encouraged) to track individual user behavior on your website. This will help you increase conversions, shorten your sales cycle and increase the lifetime value of your customers.
  • Are they going to help you manage leads from your website? Using the statistics and behavior combined with lead capturing forms on your website, you should be able to really get the most out of your leads since you will know so much about them. And if your website is designed properly, they’ll know a lot about you and be ready to buy!

What Will The Web Designer-Client Relationship Be Like?

Do they keep an open line of communication throughout the process? How often will you see progress as the site is built and when can you give feedback for adjustments?

How long after the site launches will they make adjustments and changes for you?

What Do Their Former Web Design Clients Saying About Them?

What do previous clients say about working with them? Don’t be afraid to ask for references and just give a quick call or short email to hear from someone else who has worked with them. Ask something as simple as how happy were you working with them? Or if you want to really learn more, remember that even if someone is a great website designer, you may not be a perfect fit for each other. Find out what kind of personality they have.

Finding The Right Web Designer

Sure you don’t need to ask all of these questions or maybe you’ll ask a few more. Either way, make sure you are going to be working with someone that you will be happy having a relationship with and the odds are likely that you will come out with a product that makes you happy.