Hiring a designer for your new website or your web redesign is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the entire process. There are a million stories on the web of people being duped when hiring a designer. People complain of poor design, long waits, and sometimes even theft. There are a few safeguards you can make to protect yourself and make sure you are happy with the finished product.
Don’t outsource your web design job. You might be tempted by offers from out of state or even international offers, but there is definitely a huge advantage to hiring a local designer. Being able to meet your designer or agency exec face to face is a great asset. You will get to know them, their staff, and be able to develop a relationship. Communication between client and designer is critical in web design; speaking with someone in Sri Lanka, who more than likely doesn’t speak English as their native language, is going to be a severe burden to the project.
When you meet for the first time with your web designer do they talk about goals? If not run, don’t walk away. Goals are integral to any design job and should be at the top of your designer’s agenda. If they aren’t, it is a sign of inexperience, laziness, or both… Ask yourself: What do I want my website to do? Do you want to drive phone calls? Have people sign up for an e-newsletter? Be a place where people can talk about their favorite My Little Pony Character? The sky is really the limit on the internet and a lot of sites do vastly different things. Make sure your designer knows what your goals are and make sure they let you know how they are going to accomplish them.
Use a Content Management System (CMS).
Content Management Systems, CMS for short, are the backend software that power websites. They are very common today and almost all websites are built on some form of CMS. It is vital that your web designer build your site with a CMS backend. Having a CMS lets the end user log in and edit text and images without needing to know how to write computer code. For instance if your website has a blog you can log in, write your blog post, and post it, without ever having to look at HTML.
Make sure your designer knows mobile.
The mobile web isn’t just a sidekick to the regular internet like it used to be. It’s a major player. Many sites get over half of their traffic from smartphones and tablets. Make sure that your designer builds a future-proof website that will work with the latest smartphones and tablets. One really big advantage to have on your site is what’s called “responsive design.” With responsive design your site dynamically shrinks and grows depending on the screen size. Want to try it out? If you are on a desktop try resizing your browser window and watch what happens. This is great, because mobile users get the same content as desktop users and you greatly reduce the risk of having Google penalize you for duplicate content, something that can happen very easily when you have a separate mobile site.
Choosing a web designer is actually really simple. Find someone with good reviews and a well built portfolio. Pass on any fly by night operations, designers looking for a night job, or students looking to build their portfolio. Remember, if the price looks too good to be true then it probably is.