Hiring a web designer is something you’ll most likely deal with sooner or later as a small business owner. When on the lookout for a web designer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The choice is vast (sometimes too vast!), and you know half (if you’re lucky) the terms used to describe these services you apparently need.
Many of Miel Café Design’s clients come to me confused about what to expect from a web design project. It’s normal: the web design world is full of tech words you might have never heard before if you’re no expert. You want to do a conscious choice but have no idea where to even start asking the right questions. You’re not alone.
BUT, fear not, armed with a little information about what to look for when hiring a web designer, you’ll be equipped with the awareness needed to choose the right professional for your needs.
Firstly, before we jump straight into the things to consider when hiring a web designer, let’s make a few distinctions. There are two professional figures you might come across: web designer and web developer.
A web designer is an expert who will take care of the graphic component of your website. A web designer will work with your brand’s visual identity to create a cohesive and strategic website. Web design goes beyond aesthetic, it’s the act of designing a space online that is comfortable, accessible, easy to navigate and ultimately drives conversions. In practice, a web designer will turn your website copy into paginated web pages, and provide you with the mockups of your entire website.
A web developer is instead someone who develops the provided mockups to create a functional website. A developer has web developing and coding skills. Works side-by-side the web designer to bring the vision to life.
Sometimes the two figures are merged into one, and the designer is also the developer of a website. This happens often when using high-performing CMS like WordPress, which allow web designers to easily create a website without the need of a developer. A developer instead might be needed to add new functionalities to a website, or to structure a more complicated website platform (i.e. a rich ecommerce).
The distinction between web designer and web developer brings us to our first point…
The first thing to look for when hiring a web designer, or considering to create a website for that matter, are your website goals. I usually ask my clients to identify at least one primary goal and one secondary goal for their websites. Goals can be anything like: selling products or services, getting contact requests, getting email subscribers, building brand recognition and so on…
Based on your website goals, you can easily decide which professional you actually need in your team. If, for example, you need to create a functionality-rich ecommerce with a big inventory, you might want the help of both a web designer and web developer. But if you sell services or a small inventory of products, or your goal is to build brand awareness through your website, a web designer who works with an intuitive platform like WordPress might be enough for your project.
Design is not only aesthetic, but partly it is. Therefore, when choosing a web designer, the style and aesthetic is a huge decisional factor. You should like your web designer, and feel fully represented by it. Search for designers that are specialized in your brand’s field if possible, navigate their portfolios, consult social proof. In general, get an idea of who you’re getting in touch with, what work you like the most between their portfolio, and what you can expect from working with them.
At the same time, it’s important to choose a professional you feel close to your ethic and values. Consider the designer’s working ethic and process in your choice. Does the way the web designer works resonate with you and what you’re expecting from the process? For example, when working at a web design, I always start from an intensive brand design process to ensure coherency and quality in the final result. But you can go even deeper: ask about the way the process is structured and how it’s managed (emails, project management tool, video calls?), to get a clearer idea of the type of communication your designer prefers and decide whether it’s in line with your own preferences too.
By defining your website goals, you can realize which tools and extras costs your project might need. Once you’ve selected a few designers that matches your vision and aesthetic, get in touch with them to understand which tools they work with. Do they provide basic developing on platforms like WordPress or other? Do they use a specific page builder? Can they use or install a specific tool you need? Which extra costs should be expected for your project?
What does the service actually include in details? Will the designer take care of the brand design as well? Is basic web developing included? Is SEO covered? What kind of design files will you receive? These are a few questions you can ask to the designers you are considering to properly evaluate the value of the different services. When looking at different solutions, don’t just focus on prices, but try to understand the inner value of what is being offered and choose based on what best matches your project’s needs.
Will your website be easily editable? This is something huge to consider. If not, you might need to hire your designer again and again in the future if you need to do small or big changes. I’m talking about ordinary edits like changing some texts or images in your web pages, or even big functionality additions. Ask if your designer can be available for future website edits if you happen to need them. Periodic maintenance is a service that might be provided by the web designer as well (to keep your website updated and secure, and make periodic backups), and which will have a separated cost you might want to ask about.
If you expect to launch your website in a day or a week, you won’t most likely be able to work with most designers. Web design requires time, focus and strategy and can’t be built in a day. The actual website’s content you’ll be asked to provide might take you a couple of months to complete. Think about writing the copy for all your web pages, even the hidden ones, or scheduling a brand photoshoot for your images; these are tasks that require time and energies on your end. The web design process itself might require a month or two. In addition, consider that professionals might have a waiting queue. So, if you’re interested into working with a specific designer, make sure you get in touch ahead of time and you understand the timings a web design project requires.
A custom made web design can provide you with a web space that supports your business' vision and goals. Choosing the right team for this job is no easy task, but I hope these tips will help you take an informed decision when hiring a web designer for your project.
A creative atelier curating brand and web designs for women-owned businesses.
I design and curate intentional brand designs and websites to cultivate your idea and bring your value out there.