Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Finding the Perfect Web Designer 101

Finding the perfect web designer for your website can be tricky, which is why large businesses usually just create in-house teams that will do all the web development work. They want consistent results, and don't want to waste too much time on bad hiring choices, particularly ones that result in wasted time and money.
But what if you're just a small business owner or just want a simple personal website? How do you find the perfect web designer who will deliver a well designed, functioning website within the deadline and within the budget? Below are some tips on finding the perfect web professional:

First, create a basic scope of what you want to achieve and try to cover everything. Going into a project with nothing but "I don't really know what I need, I will just approve it when it's good" is not a good idea, since it will result in delays as you go back and forth with the designer, and worse, you may end up with a website that is sub par in quality.

Create a rough of everything you want and need - from the timeframe you want the project to be finished, your budget, and the features that you want from the site (for example, is it going to be in php, or will it be a single page site, or it require the installation of a CMS, etc). This will make it easier when discussing things with a potential contractor, as it will give him an instant idea on whether he can give you what you want within the rates that you ask for.

Now that you have a clear idea of what you want, you need to find the web designer. There are a number of ways of finding people to hire. First is through recommendation. This is the safest way, since you're bound to get tried and tested web professionals. If you have friends or colleagues who have websites that look okay to you, you can ask them to refer you to their previous developer.

If recommendation is not applicable for some reason (e.g. your network of contacts is small, or the referred designer was too expensive), you can use the freelancing marketplaces, such as and These sites were made with people like you in mind, as it allows you to find and hire freelancers on your own, as well as provides you with an escrow service of sorts that prevent freelancers from getting paid if their output is not up to your agreed quality.

If this is your first time, or you're not familiar with the industry. You need to do some research. Check out job listings or ask friends about the industry rates. Even if you already have a budget set in mind, you may end up paying more than what's necessary if you don't know the going rates. Saving money is always good.
When you finally find a web designer, you still have work to do. How can you be sure that the guy (or group of guys if you went with a design firm) will be able to provide what you need?

Look at their portfolio and ask for a proposal. It will give you an idea of what the designer is capable of, and what direction they plan to go with your project. They don't need to come up with a mock-up at all, especially if they have a decent portfolio. A written report with a flowchart of tasks is sometimes enough to make you confident with hiring someone or not.

Last but not the least, when you and the web designer have started on the internet project, you need set specific goals and deadlines, while leaving some room to adjust for setbacks (the adage "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" works in here). Do not sit back and wait for the final delivery. Try to create specific points in the project where you will check the output, so that you can stop problems before it becomes to far along to change. A good web designer will relish the chance to work closely with the client, while a not-so-good designer will be kept in check under a client's watchful eye. A bad designer will quit under the pressure, and you'll be able to find a replacement sooner.

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