To Hire or Not to Hire a Web Designer
You’re probably asking yourself if you should hire a web designer or do it yourself. Our short answer: Do it yourself, but only if you’re really good at web design, otherwise seek help from the professionals to create a website that gets found. To do this successfully, you’ll need to hire a great website developer. With so many options, how do you find a trustworthy website designer and builder who knows the up-to-date methods and will deliver what is promised?
Here are 5 Guidelines to Evaluate and Hire a Great Website Developer
1. When Hiring a Website Designer Set a Budget, Due Date, and Expectations
- BUDGET: Before starting your website project, you need to establish your budget. If you don’t have a figure in mind, you could end up spending a lot more than you expected.
In addition, letting a designer or developer know the budget helps them estimate your project more accurately and know what can be accomplished for that fee.
They’ll know not to recommend things that are way out of your spending limit but suggest extras that could improve Findability if you have the funds earmarked.
- DUE DATE: In addition to the budget, choose a due date to give your project parameters. If the timing is unrealistic, web professionals will let you know that the job can’t be completed and they’ll ask for more time right away.
EXPECTATIONS: Have your site map complete and some ideas about the type of design you want. The more details you can provide and parameters you iron out up front, the better your chances are for a creating a website that meets your needs and delivers the results you want.
2. Before You Hire a Web Designer – Get Referrals from Colleagues and Others You Trust
Asking the people you know and trust if they know a reputable web designer or developer makes a lot of sense. Referrals are a great way to gather names for your first round of the selection process. Make sure the people who refer firms or consultants have worked with them or know people who do. When a friend “knows a guy,” that’s not the highest form of recommendation. You want actual experience from satisfied customers who will vouch that the developer did a good job and delivered on time and within budget. It helps to know a potential designer was easy to work with and met expectations for work ethic, web knowledge, and design skill.
3. When Looking for Great Web Developers – View Their Work and Love It!
Before you decide on which developers you want to interview, spend time looking at their work. Most developers have websites that feature examples of their work, plus client testimonials. You can choose to hire a freelance web designer, and they usually have a portfolio together with a score from previous clients they worked for. If you don’t love the work, save time and don’t bother talking to that developer. Find someone whose design sense matches your own to improve the chances they will produce something that satisfies your vision and expectations.
4. Remember: You Are the Client!
Always keep your company’s needs at the forefront of your working relationship with a web development firm or consultant. Here’s a few words of advice when looking to hire a web designer:
- Not all companies will look out for your best interests and instead, many will make suggestions that serve their own bottom line. Remember who is the client – YOU are.
- If you see any of these telltale signs, think twice about choosing that developer, regardless of how many recommendations you’ve gotten.
Don’t hire website developers or web designers who:
- Try to intimidate you or make you feel like they know everything and you know nothing.
- Use jargon you don’t understand and won’t or can’t define it for you.
- Are not clear about the deliverables or deadlines even if you ask them.
Get involved in the process of creating your website:
- Once you come up with the decision to hire a web designer, do not put your head in the sand hoping all that technology stuff will magically get done.
- YOU need to participate in the process and maintain a degree of ownership if you want a quality website that delivers the expected results.
5. Beware of “Proprietary” Systems or Software
A proprietary system or software tool means the developer built the system from scratch by his or her own hand. They are the only people who know how to work with it, or update it and you will pay them forever to keep it up and running. The process to hire a web designer or developer shouldn’t mean you have to be their client forever, but it these cases that’s exactly what happens. They hold the keys and you will NOT be in the driver’s seat. If things go wrong, you have no recourse. Since it is proprietary, you can’t just take it to another developer, so you end up locked in. The solution for this is to ask if the developer uses open source tools. Here’s a great definition of open source: “When a software program is open source, it means the program’s source code is freely available to the public. Unlike commercial software, open source programs can be modified and distributed by anyone and are often developed as a community rather than by a single organization.” (source: http://www.techterms.com/definition/opensource)
Open source options for web design and development include:
These tools are well respected, search engine friendly and have a content management system (CMS) that allows for easy content changes or updates which is essential for sustainable infrastructure.
Choosing one of these open source platforms for your website is smart because you will be free to switch developers if the need arises or even hire an in-house developer.
Please avoid developers who use other tools if you want to retain power over your site and have the freedom to hire and fire in case things don’t work out.
Hire a Web Designer Using Caution – Take Time to Find the Right Match
I encourage you to take the time to find the right match for your business.
There are plenty of great website designers and developers out there, ready to help you build a great site, energize your company’s online presence, and increase revenue.
You may even want to speak to a few satisfied clients so you are sure you have done your due diligence in the selection process. When you choose the right developer who becomes a team member, you ensure your online presence and stay in the driver’s seat.
Launching Your Website Project
Once you have chosen your developer, then the work begins! The first piece of business is to get yourself properly set up for success.
Get Ready to Hire a Web Designer – Simple Steps to Prepare Beforehand
The more you can share your vision with the developer, the more likely your site will meet your expectations.
Follow these steps before contacting a web designer to pave the way for a smooth running web development process.
Have your keyword research completed as well as your site map.
Write your content following the THBLI method or have it nearly finished. This will save you money, as it shows the developers you are ready to go and they do not have to wait for content for each web page.
Prepare a Creative Brief for the Developer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest copy of our creative brief.
If you’ve never heard of a creative brief before, this comprehensive document provides your developer with a snapshot of your business and your vision for the site. You will include company mission, tagline, target audience, tonality, color scheme, and competitive sites for industry reference.
It’s also helpful to consider your requirements for the site. Before you hire a web designer, decide which of the following items you need for your site:
- Mobile responsive site
- Shopping cart
- Credit card processing
- Opt-in box
- Site-wide search function
- Social Media sharing buttons
- Your TOP 10 favorite competitor sites
You need to let the developer know if you require a shopping cart and credit card processing for example so these elements can be worked into the site from the beginning.
Also Before You Hire a Web Developer – Gather All Other Elements
- Color preferences
- Logins for current hosting, website, Google Analytics, and social media links
Hold Periodic Status Meetings with Your Developer
The best thing you can do to keep your project on time and in budget is to set up periodic status meetings with the developer to review progress and provide feedback.
Good communication helps keep everything on track and moving forward, as well as provides the opportunity to address any problems as they pop-up.
So before you go ahead and hire a web designer or developer to create your new website, you’ll want to sit down and do some planning ahead.