Find a web designer to build your small business web site. How to hire a website designer

How to Find & Hire a Web Designer

Choosing a Web designer to build your Web site can be daunting. Like hiring an auto mechanic, you want to find one who knows his stuff, can understand what you want, has reasonable rates and won't disappear on you.

Where to Start?

Before you start looking, you should have good idea of what you want your site to do. For help planning, see article: Planning Your Web Site Content and Design

Armed with a good plan, you are ready to start your search in earnest.

What factors should be part of your decision-making process?  Referral or recommendation? Location? Style? Technical Expertise? Customer Service & Reliability? Price? Rapport with you?

Referrals and recommendations

Perhaps the easiest way to start your list of potential designers is to ask friends or business associates who have sites you admire who designed their site. Ask:

  • Did the project meet your expectations? On time? On budget?
  • Was it clearly defined what you were going to get and was what was promised delivered?
  • Was the designer professional, easy to work with, and good about returning calls or emails?
  • Why did you choose this designer?
  • Would you hire this designer again?

Alternatively, you can find the designer of sites you admire. Many web designers include a small link to their web site on the bottom of each page of sites they have designed.

Location

There are advantages to working with a designer that is in your region. Face-to-face meetings give you a chance to get know your designer. A local designer may have regional knowledge about the people, businesses, and happenings in your area - your local flavor which can help with developing your site content. Most of our web design clients are in the Medford-Grants Pass-Ashland Oregon area.

With email, VOIP, and telephone making long distance communication easy and affordable, it is perfectly reasonable to work with a designer anywhere in the world. Most communication with your designer will be via email and phone. Face-to-face meetings are not necessary. At A Street Web Design, we've satisfactorily worked with many clients, one as far away as Japan, without ever meeting in person.

Style

More important than location, we feel, is the designer's style, technical expertise and reliability.

Look at the designer's Web portfolio (every Web designer should have one).

  • Do you find the overall look and feel of the portfolio sites appealing?
  • Is the design — colors, layout, font — of consistent quality throughout the site?
  • Do the sample sites have any of the features you'd like for your site?

Technical Expertise

Maybe you want a product catalog, a shopping cart, credit card processing, contact from, mailing list or a content management facility so you can update the site yourself. Make sure that the designer you are considering has the expertise to implement the features you want.

While you are checking out the sites, pay attention, too, to technical details:

  • Navigation easy to understand; easy to find your way around the site
  • Pages load fast
  • No spelling errors, broken links, broken forms or missing graphics
  • Relevant, easy to read text
  • Appropriate & appealing graphics

The designer's site should have information about their areas of expertise and what training they have. If not, be sure to ask when you contact them.

Customer Service & Reliability

You can learn a lot about a company when you call with your questions. Are they friendly? Do they seem to be interested in helping you? Do they seem knowledgeable? How long have they been in business? Can you talk to someone who can guide you to the best solution (effective & affordable) for your business?

Too many times I've gotten inquiries from site owners in a panic because their designer has disappeared or just doesn't know what they are doing. Unfortunately, there is nothing to stop someone from taking a couple of courses at the junior college, set up a site and call himself a professional web designer. Always check references.

Price

Once given your Web site plan, a designer should be able to give an estimate or price range on what that site will cost. The estimate should include a list of what you are getting for that cost. Find out, too, what kind of guarantees are offered.

If you are on a tight budget, ask if the designer can make suggestions to help you to keep costs down. Sometimes the same or similar results can be achieved by using easier methods. Or you can plan to build your site in stages.

Additionally, you may keep costs down by providing the content in ready to use format. That means writing your text for Web presentation, and providing professional quality graphics and photos.

Keep in mind, the lowest price may not be the best choice. You'll want to be sure to select a designer that has the level of skill to provide your with the right site for your needs.

Always, Always Check References

Email the designer and ask to contact a couple of their clients. A reputable designer will provide you with the contact information of businesses they've worked with. Contact the owners of the sites of the designer's clients and ask if they were satisfied with the work on their sites.

Rapport

Web design and site development is a collaborative process that requires good communication between the client — you — and the designer. Hopefully, your relationship with your designer will be a long one. You want to find a web designer who:

  • Is considerate and friendly
  • Listens well; understands your requirements
  • Displays a genuine interest in your business
  • Takes the time to explain the design process and all Web matters in terms you understand
  • Can make suggestions on how to effectively achieve your goals

Take the time to find a Web designer with whom you feel comfortable. You are an important part of the design process.

Get a Contract

Once you have chosen your designer, make sure you get a written contract. In general, a Web design contract should detail what the designer will deliver to you, what your responsibilities are, the time frame, what happens if something goes wrong, the payment terms and copyright issues - who owns the finished site. The contract is beneficial to both you and designer; with a contract, both will know what to expect.

Make sure you read and understand all the clauses of the contract. If there is something that is unclear or that you don't want to agree to, or if some issue you feel is important is not covered, ask for clarification and/or modification of the contract.

Since I am not a lawyer, I cannot advise you exactly what your contract should cover. I do, however, recommend that you don't start your project without a contract that you understand and find agreeable.

In Conclusion

I hope your will find these suggestions helpful in your search for a designer for your Web site. Using these as a starting point, you probably will come up with additional ideas about what to look for and what to ask when you want to hire a web site designer.

Have questions about how to find and hire a Web designer?

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A Street Web Design offers custom web design in Oregon's Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon:
web design, ecommerce online stores, custom development, & search engine optimization (SEO)
for small business in Grants Pass, Rogue River, Medford, Ashland, Roseburg, Jacksonville, Oregon,
Northern California and the World.