6 Golden Rules For Hiring The Right Web Designer (And How To Get Their Best Work)...
Your web designer could make or break your project (and in extreme cases even your business). Choosing the wrong one could cause serious delays and cost more than just cash.
It’s not uncommon to hear horror stories from clients where everything started out just lovely but soon fell apart. A typical scenario goes something like this.
A client has a vision for a fantastic new website. They find a great designer who’s fired up and sharing that vision.
But as the project progresses something starts to feel off and things begin to slide. Both client and designer become more frustrated with each other and eventually something snaps. They hit that breaking point and can no longer work together. Both sides feel that time, effort, and money have been wasted.
The client still doesn’t have the website they need. Resentment and anger makes them far more weary and they’re desperate to avoid the same issues again.
So let’s look at what went and how can be avoided.
1 – Expectations
It may be tempting to go with the designer that says yes to everything you ask for, without even questioning deeper.
A good web designer will ask questions (sometimes awkward questions) but they’ll tell you clearly what’s possible and what isn’t either technically or within your budget.
Most employers aren’t familiar with building a website (that’s why they’re hiring somebody else right!). So, if that’s you then make sure that there isn’t a misunderstanding of technical difficulty between you.
An example of this would be…
In your initial consultation you might say that you’re looking for a very simple website. In your web designers mind that means something quite specific. But if that “simple” design actually requires 3-4 hours (or even 3-4 days) of custom development then you’re both setting yourself up to fail.
So how do you avoid this? It’s actually pretty simple.
You just need to be very clear about the functionality you have in mind, and also be open to feedback from your designer so you know if it’s possible within the scope of your project. Your designer may also have a simpler and more effective solution.
2 – Timing and budget
Web designers often plan their projects into a schedule so they can be as efficient and productive with their time as possible. If they’re working with a smaller budget they may have to schedule in more than 1 project at a time. This means that if you’re trying to communicate with them outside of any scheduled meetings or calls you could be slowing things down. Try to deal with questions and queries in an organised manner and make them part of your regular (but scheduled) communication.
Similarly, if you’re due to provide any files, images or content try and stick to the agreed deadlines and if that’s not possible, give them as much as notice as you can so they can allocate that time elsewhere.
3 – Costs and Scope Creep
Your website proposal should be based around everything you talk about with your designer at the consultation stage and the cost will obviously reflect that.
If you change your mind about what you need this can affect both the timeline and the bottom-line.
Most designers have their specialities and core skills, so it’s not unusual for a designer to sub-contract tasks to others. Adding on or changing work in this manner can end up wiping out their profits as they pay for work they hadn’t bargained for.
Having said that, it’s quite rare that there are no changes once the project begins. New ideas are sparked which can change design brief or functionality. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just…” is a common sentence that every designer hates to hear.
This is called scope creep and it can ruin a great project.
The best way to avoid scope creep is for the web designer to stand their ground to keep project on track. If you need new things that aren’t in the scope of the initial project then make this part of a “Phase 2 project“.
Having a phase 2 is a great way to get clarity and finalise your project as it allows for those new ideas to be bought to life in a structured way because you already have all the feedback and knowledge from the Phase 1.
5 – Visual Aesthetics
Communicating your design vision using just your words can be extremely difficult. So get some visuals. One way to this is to use Pinterest. You can quickly and easily create a Pinterest board showing which brands, images, colours and fonts you like. If you have a website that you love the look of by all means show your designer but don’t ask for a carbon copy. Instead tell them specifically what you like about it.
5 – Caring for your website.
Technology changes so rapidly and the software that powers your website is no exception. If you don’t keep your website secure and maintained then it’s inevitable that problems will start to creep in. You’ll also want to keep it fresh and up to date. You’ll need to either do this in-house or have it done for you. Talk to your designer before starting your project as many won’t stay onboard for maintenance and after-care.
Similarly, if you need SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your website it may or may not be a service your designer can provide.
6 – Mobile First
It should go without saying, but having a website that’s responsive and works well on all devices is no longer optional. Make sure that your web designer is capable of offering this and if appropriate a “Mobile First” design (this will depend on the nature of your site). Mobile first simply means that design is prioritised first for the mobile user, with larger screens taking 2nd place.
If you’re planning on a website project and looking for the right designer, keep these 6 top tips in mind throughout your project and you’ll be able to enjoy watching your vision come to life.