If you want a good website, you need to start with a good strategy.
But even a good strategy and the most comprehensive Website Design Brief won’t be able to overcome a designer that is a bad fit for your site.
Hiring a designer is no easy task. There are no quantifiable metrics for measuring creative talent. And an impressive portfolio doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the results you want.
3 Things to Consider When Hiring a Designer for Your Website
1) Designer or Developer?
If you can afford it, it’s best to have both a web designer and web developer on your team. Each brings a different skill set to the project. And while there are plenty of designers who do build-outs – and developers that also do design – I have yet to come across someone who does both really well.
But for many businesses with tighter budgets, this isn’t realistic. So you need to decide which element is more critical to the success of your business.
If your site has more technical requirements such as shopping carts, customized HTML coding, or is a larger site where load time may be an issue, then you need to focus on a developer that can handle these items.
If you are planning to use a lot of imagery, want custom graphics, or need more guidance when it comes to the look and feel of the site, you’ll want to work with someone who actually specializes in website design. WordPress themes and website builders have made it easier for designers to jump in to site-build out. But they may have to sub-contract some technical elements.
Tip: If you are working with someone whose specialty is development, you will need to have a clear idea of what fonts, colors, images and layout you want.
This doesn’t get talked about a lot. But I’ve found that hiring someone with the right design aesthetic is critical to the success of your website.
Some designers have a specific aesthetic – or style – while others, who have worked across a range of industries with a breadth of styles, tend to be more adaptable. Taking a look at their online portfolio should help you distinguish which category they are in.
If you’ve done your website planning homework and have created a Web Brief outlining your strategy, you will have a good idea of the look and feel you are trying to achieve.
In reviewing a designer’s work, ask yourself:
- What is the designer’s style? Those that have a particular aesthetic will have a lot of consistency in the look and feel of the sites they’ve created. Is their style classic and clean? More feminine with softer tones and swirly fonts? Promotional, with a lot of “buy now”, sales-focused elements? Do the sites look dated or more in line with current design trends?
Web firms and designers with an agency background, or who have worked across a range of industries, will have more variety in the designs displayed.
- Does the designer’s style match the look you have envisioned for your business? If it doesn’t, then I recommend you move on. Because the thing I’ve found in 15+ years of working with graphic designers is that not all designers can break out of the mold of their own design aesthetic.
And that can be good or bad. Some designers specialize in a niche. And if it’s the niche you’re looking for, it’s a match! If you personally like their work, but it’s not right for your business, then you’re setting yourself up for a lot of frustration and disappointment.
Tip: If you see a lot of variation and you like their work, but don’t see the particular style you are looking for, ask them! Many keep only the most recent (or, more likely, the oldest) projects on their site.
3) Freelancer or Full-Time
Do you have a timeline set for getting your site launched?
If you do, be sure you are hiring someone who does websites full-time. Web companies and professionals who make 100% of their living from designing and building websites are more inclined to adhere to a schedule. And typically – especially with agencies that have several people on a project team – their time from design to launch can be closer to 6-8 weeks as opposed to several months.
If timing is flexible, there are a lot of folks out there who are doing design and/or development on the side. This can be a bonus because it generally means they aren’t looking to pay all of their bills from the work. So they charge a bit less. But it also means that you are subject to changes in their schedule that can drag the project out longer.
In either case, make sure you are clear up-front on the anticipated timeline and know what your deliverables are (those items that can only be provided by you) and when the designer will need them.
Tip: If you are looking to get your site launched quickly, make sure you have all of your site assets (pictures, video, copy, etc.) in a folder and ready to share before you start the design process. Google Drive, Dropbox, and the like are great for easily sharing large files.
And remember, it all starts with a solid strategy. Because an effective website starts with effective planning!
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Jacqui Genow is the founder and principal of J. Genow Marketing. She works with clients in building Marketing Roadmaps, fine-tuning their brand message and coaching them in how to improve their marketing. As a business Marketing Strategist, her focus goes beyond marketing to understanding the connection between marketing decisions made today and how they can positively impact a client’s business in the future. Contact Jacqui to find out how improving your marketing can improve your business.