Unfortunately, not all web designers are on the up and up. You can waste a ton of time and money on designers who are unskilled—or simply not committed to your project.
Avoid that mistake by following this advice:
1. Check out their portfolio
Ask them to send you links of several live websites they designed. Do they all look the same? Is it obvious they stuck to a template? Or is each website original and custom? Have they worked with multiple industries, and offered a range of website types?
If you want a totally unique website, you need to ensure the designer has the skills to develop one from scratch. Find out if the designer did the graphic and layout design or only the programming. If they don’t do graphic design work, you will need to find a graphic designer, so keep that in mind.
2. Pay attention to how much they ask about your business
The best web designers will take the time to get to know everything they can about the business, your customers and your goals. If they don’t, the chances of them building a website that is consistent with your brand is low. It’s a red flag if you do all the talking, and they don’t ask many questions.
3. Talk openly about fees
Top web designers aren’t cheap, and you don’t want them to be. If they offer rock-bottom prices, you are probably going to get what you pay for. That said, you do need to know upfront that the designer will stick to your budget. Before you sign a contract, ask the designer to provide you with an estimated cost for completing the website.
Adding features, such as shopping carts, a blog and email capture will likely increase the price, so detail exactly what you want upfront, and ask for a best estimate.
Also talk about what it will cost if you decide you want to make changes or go in a different direction later. Some web designers will charge extra; others do what it takes to make their clients happy.
4. Ask about website maintenance
Will they maintain your website after the initial design? If so, what is the cost? Website maintenance is critical, so if the website designer won’t do it—or the cost is too high—you need a designer who will make the website easy for you to maintain.
Ensure that the designer will share with you the types of programming and platforms he or she builds into your website, along with the original, editable source files so that you can make changes as needed.
5. Determine that they understand conversions
The top web designers can do so much more than just make a website look pretty. They understand what it takes to keep visitors engaged and—most important—to generate sales. They are versed in the best techniques for layout, search engine optimization, navigation and Call to Actions (CTA).
6. Make sure you can work together
You will be able to tell pretty quickly if you are going to enjoy working with the person, and that’s important. You are going to spend a good bit of time with the person over weeks or even months, so make sure that your personalities are a good fit.
Ask web designers to describe their work process. How do they prefer to communicate? How will you go about bouncing ideas off each other? And how flexible can they be?
The last thing you want to do is contract with a web designer and one week in found out that working with the person is just plain difficult. Take the time to find out as much as you can about how each candidate works before you commit to anything.