”Clarity is kindness~ Brene Brown
What to be clear about before hiring a web designer
Launching a new website or redesigning one can be both exciting and daunting. If you’ve never worked with a website professional you may not know where to start. Before you begin, these are the things you need to be clear about so that you can effectively communicate them to your web designer.
- What you want your website to accomplish (bring in new clients, increase sales, provide credibility, educate, etc.)
- How quickly you need the website done
- What platforms are you open to using (WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, etc.)
- Your budget
- Whether there is anything unique or complicated that you need your website to do
- How you best communicate with professionals (do you need lots of contact, prefer email, phone, etc.)
- The most important skills and qualities to consider when hiring a web designer
Hiring the right web designer for your project
Now that you are clear about what it is you need and what’s important, it’s time to prioritize. Ideally, you will find someone that is highly qualified, affordable, available, and communicates effectively. If your budget is low, demand is high and/or you have trouble communicating, knowing which is most important to you can help you hire with intention when things aren’t ideal.
Unfortunately far too many of my clients come to me after having a bad experience with another designer first. Here are some common traps I see people fall into:
People with a low budget are more likely to hire a friend or a contractor off of a bidding-type website. While neither of these is a mistake in themselves, they both can lead to communication break-down. Most people have a harder time with conflict or voicing discontentment when they are working with a friend. If the design doesn’t appeal to you or if the web designer isn’t getting it, you’ll need to be prepared to speak up in a way that doesn’t put your relationship in jeopardy.
Web designers on bidding sites like Fiverr can charge low rates because they live in places with a lower cost of living and because they generally don’t have the experience that other freelancers do. You may actually spend way more time trying to communicate with these folks.
Sometimes even the best web designers aren’t the right fit for your project. When hiring a web designer make sure they understand what platform you want to use, what the technical requirements are, and the kind of design you are looking for. Hiring a Squarespace expert for a WordPress website, or a web designer who typically does childish or whimsical designs for a highly professional or technical business are all things you want to avoid. Same with someone who has very little SEO or eCommerce experience for a sales or store website.
Ask to see the web designer’s portfolio. Even if they haven’t worked with someone in your exact business, if they’ve done projects that are similar enough with the right kind of overall design and requirements, they are probably a good bet in that way.
Poor communication with a past designer is the number one thing I hear from new clients as to why they want to hire me instead. Some developers and designers are great at the technical or design aspects but do not do well with project management and communicating effectively with clients. Some don’t do well with feedback and take it personally when they don’t nail the design. Others can’t handle clients who need a bit more handholding or who aren’t technically astute. Some just have a hard time taking what the client has given them and turning it into something the client will love.
I can’t even count the number of clients I’ve had who feel the need to apologize for not being technically savvy. Make sure when hiring a web designer you hire someone who is a true partner – one that you feel you can be honest with, someone who gets your business and your vision, and one who really listens and lifts you up (and instead of getting frustrated with you).
Understanding a web designer’s process is paramount before hiring them. So much can go wrong when expectations aren’t set in the beginning. Here are some basics you’ll want to address:
- Who is handling the project management aspect of the design process?
- Is the person you connected with first going to do the website build or are they planning to outsource it to someone in their company or overseas?
- How collaborative are they? Will they allow you to give feedback along the way or will they do the whole website before allowing you to weigh in?
- How long will it take them to build the website? If something happens to them and they are unable to continue or need to pause the project, what will happen and how will they communicate that to you?
- Do they have a contract that you understand?
Oh, the content!
I get that all of us don’t love to write, especially about ourselves. Coming up with the text for your website might not be your idea of a good time but for a web designer to do their job well (websites should be designed around the content, not content made for the design) then they need to have it before designing a web page.
You should be honest with your web designer about whether you have the content ready for them to begin the project. The number one reason website projects are delayed is because the web professionals are waiting for the client’s content. There is a decent option for those who don’t want to write – they can hire a good copywriter (sometimes the web designer can also do copywriting). My only caution here is that whoever is writing the content needs to understand the purpose and topic area that the website is about. I recommend following the same guidelines for hiring a copywriter as for a web designer – you need to feel confident that they will convey your message as well or better than you can.
What else should you convey when hiring a web designer? Here are a few less obvious things you may not have thought about.
- If you have ADD or ADHD and are willing to share this, it may be helpful for your designer to know so they adjust their organization and communication effectively.
- Your schedule and communication preferences – a lot of people in the tech industry prefer texting and email. If you’re a phone person or a video chat person, let your designer know that. Ask them if they charge extra for certain types of communication.
- How important search engine optimization is to your project. If you are in the know about keywords in your industry, share them with your web team.
- How many decision-makers there are. If you are working for a company or non-profit where more than one person will be providing feedback, your web designer needs to know that.
If you found this article helpful, and think I might be the right designer for your job, feel free to reach out and tell me all about your project and how you like to communicate. No project is too big or too small but you can count on my honest opinion about whether I can serve you or if you’re better served by someone else.