8 tips for hiring a Web designer for your business

Digital design and marketing pros share their advice on how (and where) to find a good Web designer and how to ensure the agency or individual you hire is a good fit with your vision, business and budget.

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“Proprietary systems tend have a very simple interface – good for a non-techy person to update but limited in how customized the site can be,” she explains. “Open-source systems are completely customizable and not that much more difficult to update,” she says. “Additionally, 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.”

[ Related: 12 Tips for Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website ]

5. Have a realistic budget – and know what you can expect to pay. “The 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,” says Randy Mitchelson, vice president, sales and marketing, iPartnerMedia, a Web design and Internet marketing agency. “A 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.”

6. Discuss where the work will be done (local or outsourced) and who will be doing it. “Always ask who is actually developing and coding the website, and whether they're local or not,” says Stephanie Duncan, communication coordinator, Veterinary Hospitals Association. “There is nothing worse than [hiring a] designer, [then finding out the] actual coding is done in India – 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.”

To avoid this potential problem, “ask to meet the team who would work on your project,” says Griffin. “You or your team will spend time with them, so it’s important to make sure they’re 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.”

7. Ascertain whether the designer can meet your deadline(s), before you start work. Before you commit to a designer or agency, ask “Can you complete this project within my timeline?” says Griffin

Also, “when 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,” says Travis Bennett, managing director, Studio Digita.

8. Make sure you are the one who owns the design (and website content). Before you hire a designer or developer, ask “if they are willing to sign over all intellectual property rights [to your site],” 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. “Any 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.”

Where to find a good Web designer

  • Go to a website you like and look to see who designed it, often indicated at the bottom of the home page.
  • Ask people/businesses whose sites you like who designed their website – and if they would recommend that designer or agency.
  • If 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.
  • Check out designer portfolio sites like Behance and Dribbble.
  • Run a design contest on 99designs or CrowdSPRING.
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