Top 5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Web Designer

In today’s modern technological landscape finding a designer is a very simple task. The problem lies in finding a designer that is knowledgeable, timely, affordable, and easy to work with. The following five tips will simplify your hunt and increase your chances of finding someone worth your time and money.

  1. Do they have a website AND a portfolio?

Any designer worth hiring will have both a website and a portfolio. If the designer has a website it shows they are serious about their work. Managing a website takes time, thought, and money, so if a designer lacks one it is easy to question their level of commitment, experience, or both.

Just as a worthy designer will have a website they will also have a portfolio filled with previous works they have made. Portfolios let you know the designer’s personal style, the breadth of experience they have had, as well as how good they are at making ideas into visual and functional goods. Not only this, but it shows the designer’s ability to create websites for a variety of businesses. If all their designs look the same they might not be willing or able to create a design that suits the unique needs of your business or organization.

It is also a good idea to see if the designer you are considering hiring has a blog. While not having a blog doesn’t mean they are a bad designer, if they are blogging it shows they are dedicated. Then, if they do have a blog take time to read it. If it teaches you something worthwhile it increases the chances that your investment in them will yield good results.

  1. What are their skills and reputation like?

Ask the designer what skills they possess and how they acquired them. Though possessing a degree in design isn’t necessary to be a good designer, it certainly helps. Getting professional training and feedback greatly improves the quality of a designer’s work. Also, ask if they are able to code AND design. I know of designers who can code anything, but whose designs will make your eyes hurt. I also know designers who produce stunning work, but whose designs are almost impossible to translate into a working and nice to look at website.

Further, check to see if they install a content management system such as WordPress. Such a system will allow you to change and/or update the content of your site yourself, thus avoiding the need to spend extra money on hiring another designer or coder.

It is also important to ask the designer if they can provide referrals. If they cannot provide you with a list of real people who they made happy with their work be skeptical. Good designers tend to have good reputations. It is hard to make everyone happy all the time, but someone worth hiring will at least make most people happy most of the time.

Finally, on a related note, even if someone in your family has what strikes you as a good skill set and is known to be a responsible and kind person it is probably best not to hire them.  Even if they have industry experience and professional training, which often is not the case, hiring family members can make it hard to get or give honest feedback. Not wanting to hurt their feelings, or tick off your aunt, can really complicate the design process and result in a design that is not the best.

  1. What is their process?

A designer who is creditable will know exactly what steps to take, be able to give you rough estimates on how long each step will take, and will use premade design templates. If they do not know how to move a project from start to finish, or how long it will take, they might be new to the field or a fraud and your money might be better invested elsewhere. Too, if they are using templates instead of building your site from scratch, your money would be better spent elsewhere. How can they make your site or design stand out when there are 300 others that look just about the same?


  1. Can they answer test questions and how do they answer them?

Personality is an important part of picking a designer because you need to build a working relationship with them in order to get the best design. If they are lazy, snobbish, or incapable of understanding you or explaining themselves, then the process will be at best painful and at worst create a bad product. Two examples of good test questions are:

  1. a) “What plugins, images, or tools do you think my site should have?”
  2. b)  After showing them an obviously bad design, “Do you think a design like this would work for me?”

If they cannot answer the first one, then they are likely not knowledgeable enough to be valuable. Then, if they answer to rapidly, they aren’t taking the time to understand the needs of your business or looking at the bigger picture.

Regarding the second question, if they are not willing to challenge your ideas in a professional and kind way they probably aren’t ideal for the job. You need a designer that will help the elements they are creating for you to be helpful and modern without totally destroying your vision, and one that can do so without making you feel dumb. If they will put anything out there to represent your company without at least some hesitation, then they don’t really care about your businesses’ or organizations’ needs.

  1. What are they charging?

A good designer should be willing to charge competitive rates. For a website this could range from about 750 to 2,700 dollars as long as you are not looking to build a huge and complex site such as one for a fortune 500 company. If their rates are way too high, then you could likely get the same product cheaper elsewhere. If their rates are way too low, they might be using templates or working from an overseas location – both of which can end up hurting your company with ugly or dysfunctional design.

Also, a good designer won’t be afraid to provide you with a full quote and make it easy to find. It is typical for designers to charge more once a certain number of revisions have been surpassed. However, if they are vague about costs or finding trivial things to charge you for, you would be better served by someone else.