These days, there are thousands, if not millions, of free website templates to choose from, offered by dozens of free website builders. But if you want to build something better suited for your brand or are looking for a more distinctive, professional look, you’ll need to work with a professional website designer.
The question: How should you choose a website designer for your business’s website?
First, understand that this isn’t a decision to take lightly. The firm you choose will be responsible for designing your website from the ground up; your brand and reputation will be in their hands. Additionally, this isn’t just a one-time deal; if things go well, you and your website design partner can work together on numerous assets in the future, including changes to your website and materials for your marketing and advertising campaigns.
In line with this, it’s best to think of your web designer choice as the beginning of a true partnership. According to Fuel Web Marketing, “the most successful online brands are those that have great relationships with other professionals. With better designers, developers, marketers, and advertisers in your corner — ones who truly understand and support your brand — it’s much easier to make your brand visible and boost its reputation.”
So how can you increase your chances of finding an ideal partner?
Firm vs. Freelance vs. In-House
For starters, you’ll have a few different hiring options. You could hire an in-house designer to be on your team and manage your website design full-time. You could also hire a freelancer or independent contractor — and thanks to the gig economy, there are plenty of options to choose from. Also, you could choose to work with a professional design firm.
As you might imagine, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these approaches. Hiring someone full-time can give you more control and more transparency, but it’s also expensive, and your resources will be limited. Hiring an independent contractor will be inexpensive and provide you with flexibility, but your finished work may be less reliable — and it may take you longer to find the right partner. And, of course, hiring a firm will practically guarantee high-quality, reliable work, but it’s often costlier than hiring freelancers.
Other Factors to Consider
Once you’ve decided how to hire your website design partner, you’ll need to consider a host of other factors, including:
1. Past portfolio
You’ll definitely want to look at the websites this person or agency has designed in the past. That’s not only to gauge their level of skill and professionalism, but also to get a feel for their style. Does this person or agency produce work that you’d be proud to call your own?
2. Reviews and testimonials
Similarly, you’ll want to look for (or ask for) reviews and testimonials from other clients this person has had in the past. Are there multiple satisfied clients who continue to do work with them? Or does there seem to be a mysterious lack of reviews?
Quality is more important than price in most cases, but you’ll still want to think critically about your budget. There’s no reason to spend an exorbitant amount of money on someone who produces work of merely passable quality. Also, figure out exactly what’s included with the standard pricing you’re thinking of paying. What other services or features does this price include? Do these prices seem in line with the industry average?
How flexible is this person or agency? Does there seem to be a set process and a set method of work, or is the approach adjusted to suit every new client? Generally speaking, you’ll want a partner who’s willing to make changes for the best possible outcome.
5. Services and future possibilities
What other services does this institution or individual offer? Is she strictly a web designer, or is she also able to develop and host your website? Does she offer other marketing and advertising services? Can she help support your brand in other ways in the future? It’s often beneficial to work with someone who can provide you with many forms of support.
6. Ease of communication
Also, think about how easy it is to communicate with your prospective design partner. When you reach out to her, does she respond promptly and clearly? Or does she take forever to answer your questions? Does she seem to understand what you try to explain to her, or is your dialogue often strained?
Your choice won’t be easy, and it shouldn’t be. You’ll need to take your time and review your options carefully to succeed. Think critically about the possibilities for your website, and go with a partner you can trust.