I recently watched a presentation by Mike Chavez of Chavez Painting, “titled How to Hire a Professional Contractor”. Mike has built a successful painting business from the ground up, and really knows his stuff. A big part of his success lies in the fact that he cares so much about his customers, and his talk was geared towards making the experience of hiring a contractor smoother for everybody involved. As I listened to him, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between hiring a professional contractor, and hiring a professional web designer.

After his talked I asked him if he would be ok with me altering his talk so that I could educate our potential clients in the same manner. He loved the idea of what I wanted to do, so with a big thank you to Mike, I present to you:

How to Hire a Web Designer

sign which reads, "Ask More Questions"

Know what you want before you get an estimate

Start with a plan
Have ideas of what you want done to help the web designer give you an accurate estimate. The more clear you are about your needs, the better.

What is your budget for the project?
Know what you’re willing to spend, with one caveat… If you can’t find someone to do what you want at the amount you’re bookmarking for the project, you might need to reassess what you’re asking for.

Do you have time constraints for the project?
If you have a definite date the site needs to be launched by, let the web designer know right away so they can assess whether they are able to accommodate your timing needs.

Do you have a preference in web platforms?
We specialize in WordPress, but it’s certainly not the only option available.

What other work is going to be involved in this project?
Do you need to hire a photographer or content writer? Do you have a marketing person you work with? Let the web designer know so they have a clear picture of the scope of the project.

Where did you meet or find your professional?

Referral
There is nothing better than a direct referral to a person you are considering doing business with. A referral generally conveys a level of trust that the web designer can deliver on their promises.

Online
Google searches are also a great way to find a professional. This will also lead you to reviews of companies that have an online presence.

Phonebook
Just kidding! Nobody uses the phonebook anymore.

Qualifying and interviewing your web designer

How many Estimates/Interviews
Most people interview and get three estimates from web designers. I feel this is sufficient unless after three you really do not like any of them.

Check out their portfolio
This might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure you like the web designer’s previous work.

Read Testimonials/Reviews
Take a little time to read what other people think about working with the web designer.

Hiring the Web Designer

The cheapest price is not usually the best option
Be aware that “you get what you pay for” can be very true in web design. Most web designers who are “LEGIT” will most likely not be the cheapest. I would suggest finding a happy medium between dirt cheap and outrageously expensive.

Start Tomorrow?
WARNING!!! The best web designers are usually the busy ones. Don’t expect anybody worth your money to be able to start the next day.

Sign a Contract
Make sure your contract spells out exactly what will be done, including deadlines, progress payments, and the exact materials that will be used.

What to Expect

Timeline/Project Phases
The web designer should be able to give you a rundown of the different phases of the project, and how long each should take.

Other Possible Fees
There may be other costs to the project aside from what the web designer is charging you. Hosting, domain registration, licensing are just a few possibilities. Your web designer should be able to outline what you can expect.

Content Requests
Your web designer will need content from you to add to the site, whether it’s photos, text content, or anything else the site might need. Be prepared to respond to their requests in a timely manner.

The Revisions
Once a design has been approved, most web designers limit the number of revisions they will make to a project. A few course corrections are expected. A complete redesign mid-way through because you changed your mind, might dramatically increase the time and cost of the project.

SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a critical part of getting your site on the first page of Google searches. If it’s important to you that people find your website easily, plan to work with an SEO specialist after your site goes live. If your web designer doesn’t offer ongoing SEO, find out if they have someone they recommend.

Maintenance
A website is like a car. You can either drive it until it breaks down (and pray it’s not an expensive fix), or you can extend the life of your car by taking it in for regular maintenance. Unless you have the time and knowledge to do regular software updates, security scans, backups, and other necessary tasks, find out if your web designer also offers ongoing maintenance plans.

Conclusion:

Obviously there is a lot to consider when looking for a web designer. Building a website is a complex undertaking, but a good web designer should be able to make the process smooth and painless as possible. Take the time to find someone who has the experience and knowledge to create what you need.