How to Hire a Web Designer: What to Look For
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I realize today’s topic is a pretty off topic. But, as many of my regular readers know I just finished going through the redesign of Frugal Rules and I’ve received quite a few questions as to what you should do and look out for when hiring a web designer to redesign your blog. So, I thought I’d answer that in the form of a blog post. 🙂
While my wife and I have plenty of experience seeing clients of ours hire a web designer, this is the first time I’ve gone through it for a personal site so by no means am I an expert. Seeing as that I have no experience in designing sites this meant I needed to hire out the work in order to get the look I wanted.
What many don’t know is that my journey in getting Frugal Rules redesigned has actually lasted a little over a year. The initial experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, but taught me some important business lessons. That said, I believe that when you’re looking to hire a web designer, you need to ask yourself one question as you get started:
“What do you want the new design to accomplish?”
It sounds like a simple question, but don’t skip it. There are many things you could be looking for, such as: Improved navigation, cleaner look, opportunity for increased sales, etc. Once you have the answer to that it can help guide you in finding and choosing the right web designer.
What to Look for when Hiring a Web Designer
There are, of course, many other things you need to look out for and ask when hiring a web designer such as:
Quality generally comes at a price: I know as personal finance bloggers we generally hate to spend money. Heck, I hate it myself. But, that can be a problem when you want quality. Assuming you do not have the skills to put together a site, you’ll need to hire it out. You could go the Elance route and get someone who will do it on the cheap or hire a designer that costs more. That is not to say you can’t get quality going the virtual route, just that it might be difficult. With that in mind, be prepared to spend money if you want to hire a web designer.
Know what you want: We see this in our business quite a bit. A client gives us a job and they have little clue what they want. That usually ends in frustration as we go through multiple rounds of edits to try and hit the moving target our client provides. The same is true of a web designer. This doesn’t mean that you have to have the entire site mapped out, but give your designer some direction as to what you want. If there are sites out there you really like show them to your designer to give them some ideas. Without lifting them entirely of course. 🙂
Be prepared to wait: This really isn’t a complaint, but more of an observation. Web designers, in general, tend to take more time than they estimate upfront. Know that going into the relationship so you can set your expectations accordingly. You will also want to know when they’re scheduling you to begin work. This is vital to know. If they are vague as to when they can start or how long (generally speaking) the full job will take them then it might be a sign they’re overscheduled and you should look elsewhere.
What happens after the launch?: You need to know what they’re going to be able to do after the launch of the new site. Will they be around to provide maintenance and will there be a cost with that?
What form of communication do you prefer?: This is a simple, but important question to ask of your designer. You want to make sure you’re on the same page in regards to changes and edits so knowing how they prefer to communicate can be a lifesaver.
What does the price include?: This should be spelled out in the agreement. You want to make sure you’re not going to be surprised by any add on costs that will take you over budget. Make sure that both of you are aware of what the price includes so you can go into the project with the appropriate expectations.
Check references: This is a no-brainer, but vitally important. You want to make sure the clients they’ve worked with are happy with what they have. Ask how the backend performs now that the site has been redone as the answer could communicate how well the designer does his or her job to given direction. This also means looking at samples of past work to make sure they’re sites that don’t make your eyes bleed.
Do you really need a professional designer?: This is an important question to ask if you’re on the fence about hiring a web designer. The fact is that a professional web designer can be expensive, relatively speaking. Are you just wanting something simple that looks clean but very little in terms of bells and whistles? If that’s the case, then it’s likely you’d be well served by going with a common theme, using the Genesis framework, and customizing it yourself. The last thing you want is to spend money if you really don’t need to. This is especially the case if you’re just starting a blog and wanting something basic.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but just some of the things I learned along the way of getting Frugal Rules redesigned. It was a great experience that taught me a lot about myself…mainly that I’m not patient. 😉 If you have any questions about hiring a web designer, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to answer them.
Have you ever gone through having your website professionally redesigned? Are you more of a DIY type when it comes to designing a site, or would you rather entrust the details to someone else with more experience?
Photo courtesy of: Alper Cugun
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