Woohoo! You’ve made the gruelling decision to invest in your business with a new website.
So what comes next?
When it comes to investing in a business website, there are a few things you need to work out first before you go on the hunt for a web designer.
In the very first instance, you need to know whether you need a Web Designer or Web Developer. Luckily, I’ve answered that question for you already – I’ll wait here while you read all about the difference between designers and developers.
How did you go?
If you’ve decided a web designer is what you need, then let’s move onto what you need to know before hiring a web designer.
You see, choosing a web designer is a bit like choosing a car mechanic. Sure, they all work on cars, but you want to pick the best fit for you and the best mechanic for your car.
What do I mean when I compare web designers to mechanics?
Some mechanics may specialise in certain makes of car. For example, working on a high-spec BMW is different to working on a 20-year-old Datsun or F1 car. Then you might have mechanics who include specific extras, like tyre balance or courtesy cars, whereas some may just provide the bargain basement car service. Then on top of that, you can choose between a small family-owned company, a self employed mobile mechanic or you can go back to the dealer and potentially pay more for that specialised service.
Choosing a web designer is similar.
There are many platforms to choose from, so one designer may specialise in WordPress while another could specialise in Shopify. Then we get to the included extras like training, SEO or marketing integration – some designers will offer them in their packages, some may not, or it may be an add-on. Once you have that sorted comes the decision on whether to go with a freelancer or a big agency for your website.
You’ll notice in my analogies that I compare cars and websites a lot. I find there are a lot of similarities and it helps to break down something technical like websites into a common, familiar thing – like cars!
Still with me?
Ok, now that we’ve got the analogy out of the way, let me show you some tricks on what to look for when hiring a web designer and how to choose the right fit for you and your business.
If you haven’t decided what website platform to use or what you need to think about before moving forward to this step, check out my guide to choosing the right website platform.
1. What Platform Do They Use?
This is probably the most important question because you want a designer who specialises in the platform you’ve chosen. For example, I specialise in WordPress websites. I’ve spent over 6 years working with them, designing on them and building my skills in order to build a top-notch website. I am also proficient in Neto and Shopify, however I am not specialised in these platforms, therefore I wouldn’t be the best fit if that was your platform choice.
2. Will I Have Control of My Website?
I’ve seen far too many times posts on social media from distraught business owners who can’t get into their websites. Even worse, they can’t get in contact with their web agency or developer because they’ve disappeared or ghosted them! I feel for these people. Under no circumstances should your web designer or developer have full control of your website and you don’t. Of course they will need full access in order to work on the site, but you must always have administrator access. After all, it’s your site that you paid for!
3. How Do They Price Their Services?
Pricing is something that can get a bit confusing when it comes to comparing web services. The overwhelm can be strong because you’re not really comparing apples and apples. With so many inclusions and services, what one designer includes, another may not. That’s why you really need to be clear what you want/need so you know what to ask/look for. Good web designers will have their packages outlined clearly on their site so you can see what you get for your money. This helps you to know that your designer is open and less likely to hit you with the “but wait there’s more”. If this isn’t clear, ask for a clearly outlined quote so you can see what you are paying for.
4. What Are Their Rates?
Now, you might be on a budget and looking for the best bang for your buck. And that’s ok, we all need to be penny smart. But, in the case of websites and technical services, if it’s too cheap – run! No matter what someone tells you, there is A LOT of work that goes into building a good website. Not just the pretty colours you see on the screen. Anyone who can build you a 5-page website for $500 is not going to deliver a very good service, if at all. Sure, you might get a nice looking website on the outside, but you’re really getting a car body with no engine. Your site is not going to be quality and you’ll be back paying more.
Let me break it down like this. On average, a basic 5-page service-based website can take upwards of 20 hours to put together properly. If you divide that $500 by 20 hours, you’re looking at someone who’s working for $25 an hour at best. When the average hourly rate of a web designer in Australia is between $60 – $150 depending on experience, that’s a very low rate.
Now, on the flip side, if someone is quoting you $10,000 for that same basic 5-page service-based website, then you might need to look at getting another quote as well.
At the risk of making this blog a novel, I’ve included a link to my free guide “Tips On What To Look For When Hiring a Web Designer“. It’s downloadable with a blank sheet so you can actually compare web designers’ answers – apples and apples.
Other handy things to look for when hiring a web designer:
1. Do They Have a Website?
One of the biggest red flags when choosing a web designer is considering one who does not have their own website! I get that this might sound pretty silly, but believe me, I’ve seen too many “web designers” advertise on Facebook or Fiverr with no links to their own site. #redflags
2. Do They Have a Portfolio or Gallery?
This is where you will see their work and get an idea if they’re a potential fit for your business. A portfolio not only shows their work, but it acts as a reassurance or testimonial that they are the real deal. Just a side note, some web designers don’t put all of their work in a gallery, so this is just a design guide and not a true reflection of how many sites they’ve built.
3. Do They Have Testimonials?
Following on from the gallery, a testimonials page is also a good reflection on their work and who they work with. Seeing happy customers in your field or niche stands as a good testimony that they can deliver what you’re after. Testimonials again provide reassurance that they are the real deal.
4. Payment and Contracts
As with all businesses, people can work differently and some industries have different practices. In the web world, the usual practice is a deposit (usually 50%) that is payable upfront to secure your booking. Most bookings aren’t confirmed until this deposit is paid – so any delay could result in losing your spot or a change in deadline. The other thing most web businesses will do is have the new client sign a contract. This acts as a security net for both you, the customer, and the designer. Payment in full can be requested upfront, but this is usually by the choice of the customer and shouldn’t be a standard practice. Anyone asking solely for full payment upfront should wave a bit of a flag to you. In most contracts, the deposit is non-refundable should the project be terminated IAW the contract terms.
I hope this helps. I know it can be overwhelming, but the best person to chat with is the potential web designer. If they offer a discovery call service, book a chat with them so you can see if they’re a good fit for you. Sometimes you just know by talking to someone that they get you.