Many ecommerce and website platforms claim to be so easy to use that even nontechnical folks can create an attractive website. However, if you are like most people, you are still probably going to need some design help if you don\u2019t want your site to look like everyone else\u2019s.\n[ Related: 8 ecommerce categories that will be hot in 2016 ]\nSo how do you find a good Web designer \u2013 and by \u201cgood\u201d we mean an individual or agency who has designed in your preferred Web platform, has a great portfolio, understands your business and goals, but won\u2019t charge you tens of thousands of dollars? Following are eight suggestions, along with pricing guidelines and advice on where to find talented Web designers.\n[ Related: 9 Signs It's Time to Update Your Website (and How to Fix It) ]\n1. Know what you want \u2013 and what you don\u2019t want. Before you go looking for someone to design your website, make \u201ca list of websites you like and admire and why you like them,\u201d says Bill Adkins, campus director, CodeCraft, a Web-development school and coding boot camp. \u201cPick a few you like for their aesthetic (perhaps it\u2019s what you\u2019re trying to look like), others for their workflow, maybe others for their function. This will help designers know your taste and goals.\u201d\nAlso, ask yourself: \u201cDo you want a highly visual, modern, trendy site? Do you prefer a more traditional, conservative site? Do you expect to make a lot of edits to the content regularly, or will the site only need to be updated by a developer once a year or so?\u201d says Rosie Brown, creative project manager, Sterling Communications. \u201cOnce you know what it is you want to create and how you expect to maintain the site, you can screen designer\/developer candidates based on the scope and long-term vision of your project.\u201d\n2. Check out the designer\u2019s Web design portfolio\/work. \u201cReviewing a designer\u2019s portfolio and [current Web design] work is a quick way to determine if what they do suits your taste and matches what you are looking for in a website,\u201d says Tomer Lerner, UX director, Webydo, a code-free website design platform for professional designers.\n3. Ask for and check out references. \u201cReferrals from business associates whose websites you admire are your best source,\u201d says Lynn Amos, principal, Fyne Lyne Ventures, a Web design firm. So \u201cwhen searching for a website [designer], ask for references from past [and existing] customers, and look at the sites they have designed,\u201d says Lisa Chiu, owner, Black N Bianco, a children\u2019s formalwear clothing company.\n\u201cSolicit recommendations from [people you know],\u201d says Carrie Middlemiss, U.S. director of marketing, Metia, a digital marketing agency. \u201cFind out if [they] would be willing to refer a Web designer\/developer they\u2019ve worked with in the past.\u201d Ask \u201chow well [the designer] communicated throughout the course of the project,\u201d if the designer met deadlines and \u201cwhether or not they would work with them again.\u201d\n\u201cIf your business platform has a partner network, start by researching its recommended partners,\u201d says Russell Griffin, senior director of design and solutions partner program, Bigcommerce. \u201cA good partner marketplace will have a variety of agencies to review, complete with examples of previous work, expected budget ranges and the industries they specialize in.\u201d And you know that they can design for that platform and are trusted by the vendor.\nOnce you\u2019ve narrowed down your list, be sure to speak with at least two former or current clients.\n\u201cTimeframes for websites often extend dramatically, so it is essential that you speak to previous clients in order to understand if this was an issue for them,\u201d says Simon Ensor, managing director, Yellowball, a Web design firm. \u201cReferences can steer you away from agencies [or individuals] that are very good at selling but deliver projects poorly, or conversely, give you peace of mind [that you are hiring the right] agency.\u201d\n4. Make sure you hire a designer who has designed for your platform or CMS \u2013 or can help you pick a platform or CMS. \u201cLook for a firm that has expertise in building sites on the [platform] or CMS that you\u2019ve selected (e.g., WordPress, Drupal, HubSpot, Squarespace),\u201d says Patrick Biddiscombe, CEO, New Breed Marketing. \u201cMany of these companies also have partner ecosystems, so using a list of their partners as a jumping off point is a great way to generate a short list of [designers] that you know are properly accredited. If you haven\u2019t chosen a CMS yet, find a firm that can support you in the decision making process on what CMS makes the most sense for your business and your goals.\u201d\nRegarding choosing the right platform for your online business or website, be aware that \u201csome platforms are proprietary and template based (Squarepace, Website Tonight, Wix, etc.) while others (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal) are open source,\u201d says Amos.\n\n\t\n\n\u201cProprietary systems tend have a very simple interface \u2013 good for a non-techy person to update but limited in how customized the site can be,\u201d she explains. \u201cOpen-source systems are completely customizable and not that much more difficult to update,\u201d she says. \u201cAdditionally, the proprietary systems can never be moved if you are unhappy with your hosting company, whereas the open-source systems are independent of hosting company or designer\/developer. They can be moved to any hosting company and any designer\/developer can take over if your favorite one gets hit by a bus.\u201d\n[ Related: 12 Tips for Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website ]\n5. Have a realistic budget \u2013 and know what you can expect to pay. \u201cThe cost of website design is based on the requirements of the project, including the intricacy of the design, the number of pages [and] any special functionality,\u201d says Randy Mitchelson, vice president, sales and marketing, iPartnerMedia, a Web design and Internet marketing agency. \u201cA basic, 5 to 10 page brochure-style website will likely be in the $2,500 to $4,500 range. Ecommerce sites with a bunch of products and integration to manage payments could range from $4,500 to $20,000 or more. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. Sure, there are $500 website developers out there but quality may be sacrificed.\u201d\n6. Discuss where the work will be done (local or outsourced) and who will be doing it. \u201cAlways ask who is actually developing and coding the website, and whether they're local or not,\u201d says Stephanie Duncan, communication coordinator, Veterinary Hospitals Association. \u201cThere is nothing worse than [hiring a] designer, [then finding out the] actual coding is done in India \u2013 and when something is coded wrong, or you need changes, waiting hours because the person who actually built the site [is] located internationally and there is a huge time zone gap.\u201d\nTo avoid this potential problem, \u201cask to meet the team who would work on your project,\u201d says Griffin. \u201cYou or your team will spend time with them, so it\u2019s important to make sure they\u2019re a [good] fit with your team. If working and meeting in person is important to you, then location of the agency also comes into play.\u201d\n7. Ascertain whether the designer can meet your deadline(s), before you start work. Before you commit to a designer or agency, ask \u201cCan you complete this project within my timeline?\u201d says Griffin\nAlso, \u201cwhen discussing your project with an agency [or designer], make sure you're clear on the scope of what will be delivered, the amount of changes you can request, what's required from your side to provide and the timeline for work to be produced,\u201d says Travis Bennett, managing director, Studio Digita.\n8. Make sure you are the one who owns the design (and website content). Before you hire a designer or developer, ask \u201cif they are willing to sign over all intellectual property rights [to your site],\u201d says Adriana Herrera, founder & CEO, TapAloha, which provides data-driven public relations. This is important to know upfront, she says, because not owning the design and content of your website can prevent or hurt you from getting investment capital and when you go to sell your business. \u201cAny good freelance designer\/developer or agency will sign over intellectual property rights. It's common practice. If they don't, it is a huge red flag.\u201d\nWhere to find a good Web designer\n\nGo to a website you like and look to see who designed it, often indicated at the bottom of the home page.\nAsk people\/businesses whose sites you like who designed their website \u2013 and if they would recommend that designer or agency.\nIf using an ecommerce platform or content management service, check out their list of preferred design partners (typically listed somewhere on their site) and reach out to some of them.\nCheck out designer portfolio sites like Behance and Dribbble.\nRun a design contest on 99designs or CrowdSPRING.