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What To Look For When Choosing A Web Designer

by Josh Goodman - Aug 16, 2010
how to hire a web designer

Are you looking for a company to get your website design projects done? Hiring a web designer is a major decision – your developer will learn all about how you run your business, and your plans to stay competitive in your space. A web developer needs to be someone you can trust.

Ten Characteristics of Great Designers


Experience: Find out how long your developer or agency have been in business, as well as what types of projects they have worked on in the past. Are they familiar with your ecommerce platform? Have they worked with companies similar to yours in the past?
While you may not want to hire a designer currently working for your biggest competitor, hiring someone with experience in your product category means they will already have an understanding of the design challenges you may be facing, as well as any back end systems and legal requirements that you must adhere to.

Development Skillset: Although this may be harder to hone in on, ask your developer or agency about their skill set and their outlook on best practices.
The right developer for you should be familiar with the platform your website is going to be built on, be able to customize the code in any applications or systems that you are using (if they are open source) and prioritize user experience and usability.
This is where hiring an agency can come in handy – having multiple staff on hand means there is a greater overall level of experience in the company, improving the problem solving, quality control, and development capabilities of who you hire.
Website Portfolio: A company's work will most often speak for itself. Decide if you like their website design portfolio. A design portfolio will show you what styles a website company can deliver and what type of features to expect in the website they build you.
When you look at a website design portfolio, you can build a list of questions that may lead to a better design for you. If you see something you really like in one of their designs, you can point out what you like about it, what you want, and what you do not want.

Client References: Ask your potential agency or designer if they can provide you with client references. Who better to talk to than current and past clients?
A website is not a small investment, and you may want to talk to clients who have had similar projects to yours.
Strategy: A website project requires proper preparation, attention to detail, collaboration, and more. Organization becomes as important as any of these items. You will want a website designer who can effectively communicate with you and your personnel, from project start to project completion. If you need a hand holder, hire a hand holder. If you want someone who will come in for planning meetings once a week as part of the project, hire someone who can commit to that.
A website developer needs to have organizational tools in place to keep the project on time and can get all involved to meet deadlines in order to meet time goals. Ask your website developer how a project process will go and see that you can agree to meeting times and other requirements for good outcome.
Availability: If you know when you need your website to go live, make sure your developer will be able have everything ready by your deadline. Most developers, and especially agencies, are managing many projects at once. If you have a firm launch date, ensure that everyone is on board with it – and be prepared to meet any deadlines your developers give you, in return.
Flexibility: If you are the kind of person who requires a designer who can be more flexible and accommodate you when you can make time, see that this can be done.
If you know you want many designs or may change your mind in the middle of the project as to what direction you want to go, make sure you developer knows this and can work with you. Developers may require more or less money depending on the flexibility you need. If you need the flexibility, however, the change in price may be an easier decision that if you did not.
Location: Website designers often have the luxury and flexibility to work anywhere they can bring a computer – and this is just as true for agencies!
You know your communication style best, and you should keep your contact expectations in mind when hiring a developer.
Your designer will probably be someone you will work with for quite a while if all goes well. If your business is in Los Angeles and you require someone to visit your office once a month, you should probably hire a website designer who lives in Los Angeles or nearby.
Education: Many designers and developers are self-trained, learning through a mixture of “learning on the job” and certificate courses. A degree is not a requirement, as nothing speaks for itself like a good website design portfolio, but a degree in a related field does add credibility.
Degrees in Marketing, Graphic Design, Business (with emphasis in e-business), Communication, Programming, and related fields are additional assets. Often, when an agency is hired, they will have people with various degrees. Many eyes on your projects from diverse backgrounds may help better user experiences for all personality types.
Personality: Do you like their attitude, their tone, and the way they dress and present themselves when in your company? Make sure you feel comfortable with the person you choose because you will most likely work with them for a long time.
Websites need updates and website trends change. You will want a developer or company who will communicate with you about all of the things you can or should be doing with your website. Again, do you like the people you are about to hire?
At ATAK, we like to work with people whose company and businesses we enjoy. If you share that outlook, get in touch.

Josh Goodman

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