Hiring a web designer? Here’s what you need to know first.
When you are looking to hire a web designer to create your next website design there are certain factors to look for in a web designer. This blog was created for decision makers tasked with developing a small business or medium business website and business owners that seek to redesign their website.
Website developers are a fickle bunch. Many web designers like to keep their secrets in a black box. When you are tasked with hiring a local web designer be weary of the following blunders people often make.
Hire A Web Designer Blunder #1.
You Get What You Pay For
As a small business owner myself, I certainly understand the value of stretching a dollar to make every penny count. This quality can carry over into your decision when hiring a web designer. After all, there’s tons of college students working part-time in their parents basement and cheap DIY options such as Wix or Square Space.
But tread with caution on these discount alternatives, because the bottom line is you get what you pay for. In many cases, your website is the face of your business, and the quality of your website will represent you to potential customers. Also, be very careful wit smaller, or “boutique” web design agencies as they are often strapped for cash and have limited personnel resources that may lack experience. This can lead to major headaches with delays and customer service.
Bottom line: Don’t be frugal when it comes to your website!
Hire A Web Designer Blunder #2.
The Kitchen Sink
So, you’re finally ready to take the plunge and invest in a professional website designer. And once you make up your mind there is no looking back, right? Well as with Blunder #1, tread carefully. Just because you spend more money on a website does not necessarily mean that you will be getting a higher quality website. When shopping around for web designers always seek value, NOT the most expensive. Ask yourself these questions:
- How long has the web designer been in business?
- How do you like the quality of their own website?
- How do you like the quality of their portfolio?
- Are they ADA-standards compliant?
- What Quality Assurances do they offer?
- What maintenance plans do they offer, and are their plans month-to-month or do they require a full year commitment (bad)?
- What are their Terms of Service?
- Does the web designer provide references?
- Do they break their costs down to specifics?
Also, ask if they provide only custom design or use pre-created templates. The latter can dramatically reduce overall costs, however, this is comparing apples-to-oranges as a custom website design is always the best option in creating an effective web presence. Also, a template web design remains the intellectual property of its creator, which means you will be sharing your website design with potentially thousands of other businesses and have no claim of ownership. With a custom designed website, you retain full rights.
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So, when you have decided to hire a high-end local web designer don’t be fooled by the glossy veneer. Get under the hood and see what their true value proposition is. Also, larger agencies can be juggling upwards of 30 web design projects at a time. Make sure to ask how many projects are in their queue and how they will assure that your web design project will be properly project managed.
Bottom line: Shop between 3-5 website designers for proposals. Don’t go for either the least expensive or most expensive bid!
Hire A Web Designer Blunder #3.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Have you ever watched a police officer zoom by you in what appears to be a non-emergency situation? Have you watched as a restaurant employee doesn’t wash his hands in the bathroom? Have you ever watched as a politician preaches about public service while enriching themselves through their office?
Yeah, we’ve all had those moments. They make us feel angry and frustrated!
The same goes for a web designer. Over the years, the web has evolved and adopted certain industry standards that ensures that websites adhere to best practices and provide the best possible user experience. Google, for example, rewards websites that are responsive (web standard), while punishing those that are not by manipulating their site rankings. The heightened awareness of ADA-compliance is based on the revelation that websites that do not display properly to certain folks with disabilities creates a roadblock for them to access information they are seeking. For government websites, this is a form of discrimination. Can you imagine being wheelchair-bound and arriving for a court date, only to find that there is no ramp and that you must somehow summit 50 flights of stairs? The web is quickly evolving into a digital facsimile of the rule world, and is being held accountable. Your website design agency not only needs to educate you on modern web standards and best practices, they must also adhere to them themselves.
Bottom line: Only work with web designers that follow best practices and web standards!
Web Designer Blunder #4.
Hiring a Graphic Designer Instead of a Web Designer
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A graphic designer is someone that wears funky shoes, drinks PBR and attends art films. They are the artiste extraordinaire and cannot be bothered by such mundane things as customers, budgets and timelines. A good graphic designer is vital in creating a great-looking website as their focus is on the overall design aesthetic and user experience. A graphic designer’s canvas is a graphic’s editor such as Photoshop and Illustrator. A graphic designer’s sphere of influence ends on the front-end and the baton is then passed on to the development team.
A web designer, on the other hand, has been trained in the art of technology. They have graphic design training much like the graphic designer, but also understand at least the basics in web programming, such as HTML & CSS. They also know how to import a design into a responsive framework and possibly into WordPress. A web designer, therefore, is the web’s version of a jack of all trades and is able to deliver a custom website soup to nuts, although their back-end programming knowledge-base will be rather limited.
For smaller projects, a web designer can be both cost-effective and quality-driven as you work with only one person through the entire web design and development process. Larger projects require a team approach that typically includes graphic designers, web designers, back-end programmers and SEO specialists.
Bottom line: Hire a web design agency that employs the full suite of professional graphic designers, web designers & web programmers!
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Although simplified, a website can be broken down into two types, static and dynamic.
A static website is created by a developer and does not provide any administrative capabilities to non-developers. When you hire a web designer to create a static website, you are committing yourself to potentially costly maintenance fees and update delays as the developer literally must go into the code and manually make the updates.
A dynamic website, on the other hand, is created using a Content Management System (or CMS) that allows non-programmers almost complete website administrative capability. The most most popular CMS in the world is WordPress and provides the un-initiated with an incredibly robust and intuitive tool that allows them to maintain their website on their own without the dependence on programmers to make them manually.
When comparing these two types of websites it is obvious to see the advantages of a dynamic, CMS-driven website over a static website. The only advantage a static website may bring is a lower prices tag, but that divide is quickly disappearing as the development costs using WordPress have significantly lowered the overall cost of building a website.
Bottom line: Go Dynamic. Go with the WordPress CMS!
Do Your Homework
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Although the prospect of hiring a local website designer can be a daunting task, it’s good to know that the web is an open marketplace democracy (mostly). Web designers are not simply entitled to your business and face stiff competition in both local and national markets. They must win your trust and your business by putting themselves, their work and their customers out for public scrutiny. Social media has emerged as a terrific source for evaluating web design agencies. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yelp provide a two-way street of company engagement and customer feedback. Checking these social platforms when evaluating web design agencies will allow you to see if they have customer reviews. Just remember rule when it comes to social reviews: Angry customers provide reviews 90% of the time while happy customers provide reviews only 10% of the time.
Another way to evaluate web design agencies is to test their own website and customers sites using multiple mobile devices. Do they take the extra time to create engaging user experiences on your smartphone and tablets? The term for multi-platform website design is called Responsive Web Design.
Lastly, make sure to test for web standards-compliance, such as ADA and W3C. This will ensure that they create your website using modern best practices and avoid potential legal action by site users that cannot effectively access your website.
Bottom line. Put in the work to research the web designer that is right for you!
Who Can You Trust to Get It Right?
D E E P B L U E is a San Francisco website design firm that specializes in creating responsive websites for household businesses across different industries. We offer custom-built, hand-crafted solutions to your business and make sure all your websites are responsive and fit for purpose.
We’ve been listed as one of the Best eCommerce Development Companies In The USA (That Are Up And Coming) by continually providing high-quality website design and development.