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How to Hire the Best for your Website

Choosing a web designer is a big decision, and many companies are concerned about making the right choice. That's because there's a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there. This article will offer tips to get you started in your search and highlight aspects to be aware of.

Finding the Best Web Designer for You

Before we get too deep, it's necessary to understand that no one-size-fits-all when it comes to who you contract. When you begin looking for someone to create your business website, there's a lot to think about. However, it's crucial to define your particular needs so you can find a designer that best suits your project.

Here are a few points to consider before you start the search. Once finished here, we'll explore the subject further and further yet.

1. What is the scope of your project?

Do you need a simple website to promote your business and provide information to your customers? If so, you might be able to save money by designing it yourself. Do you need a more complex website, like a blog, e-commerce site, or social media site? In that case, you might want to consider hiring a professional.

The scope is a document that outlines all the tasks to be performed by the web designer, including the number of pages and the amount of time it will take. The scope helps you and the web designer determine the level of effort required for the project.

2. What do you estimate the monetary return of your investment to be? 

Many factors go into estimating the revenue a website will generate for a business. With each company being different, those differences affect the amount of traffic a website receives, how much of that traffic will convert into sales, and how much each sale will cost. To complicate it even more, some businesses, like large retail stores, may have high traffic and a low cost per sale, while others, like restaurants, may have higher sales costs for each customer but less traffic. 

3. Why shouldn't I just build my own website?

For years, people have been building their own websites, using "do-it-yourself" (or "DIY") web builders and templates. And why not? It's a fun and satisfying pastime, and if you're careful, you can avoid paying a web designer or developer to build it for you.

Unfortunately, the DIY route to a website can lead to a frustration and wasted time, not to mention a less professional-looking site. If you're counting on your website to help you make money, you may be setting yourself up for major disappointment.

Some common pitfalls when using DIY website builders

  • If you're not careful, there's a good chance your website will look like a million other websites out there, which doesn't do you any favors against your competition.
  • Without direction, things can get messy fast. Often DIY websites end up full of content that doesn't engage visitors and color palettes that look like the inside of a crayon box.
  • Time consumption. Without developed expertise, even the most straightforward implementations or changes on your site can waste your time.

What type of partner do you need?

You've decided investing in your website is a strong business move. You're well aware that it's among the most important and significant investments you will ever make. It's vital that your business stands out from the competition and is a well-oiled machine, both in design and functionality. Regardless of its size, a website is a must-have for any business and can be the factor that sets you apart from the crowd.

Once you've identified your business's needs, you'll want to tune into some key differences within the industry.

Primary differences within the web design industry

  • Freelancer
  • Agency
  • Web Designer
  • Web Developer

Freelance web designer vs. agency: pro's and con's

Hiring a freelance web designer vs. an agency is a difficult choice for many businesses, especially small ones. Which option is better and why? The fact is, it depends on your particular business requirements.

Bigger doesn't invariably signify better, conversely small doesn't necessarily entail proficiency and flexibility.

In general, agencies are better suited for businesses that want an experienced team to handle their website, social media or marketing strategies. They will usually charge a flat rate for a set number of hours or days, or a monthly retainer. Freelancers typically require less time to finish a project, so you can see results quickly and will often come with smaller overhead, resulting in a better price point for you.

Freelancer

Typically a self-employed person who is not committed to a particular employer long-term. The term covers a wide range of people with different skill sets and expertise. Many work with multiple clients and are hired as needed, they often have more control over their professional lives and most are not assigned to fixed schedules or locations.

Pros:

  • Availability
  • Flexibility & efficiency
  • Personal investment
  • Specific expertise

‍Cons:

  • Can be slow to respond
  • Some provide inaccurate estimates (get a contract in place)
  • May not be able to implement all the functionalities you need
Agency

Agencies can include a multitude of disciplines. They often deal with a particular activity or a specific service.

Varying in size: a full-service digital agency, does it all. A digital marketing agency, will primarily stick to marketing aspects, while a web design firm will focus strictly on web design.

‍Pros:

  • Can work on multiple marketing efforts in tandem
  • Often more cost-effective than working with multiple freelancers

Cons:

  • Regularly charge higher than a single freelancer
  • A focus too broad can translate into poor specific outputs
  • Often less direct client interaction

Web designer vs. web developer

The differences between web developers and web designers are often debated within the professional community. While there's no solid line that separates the two, most consider web designers more focused on the job's artistic aspects. In contrast, web developers are more focused on the technical aspects. The reality is that most jobs require both positions working together.

Web Designer

A designer with specific skills in the practice of web design. 

  • Responsible for the overall look and feel of a website
  • Ensures a website's functionality and accessibility for its users
  • Creates the graphic design, colors, navigational elements, layout, and sometimes code
  • Includes information architects & usability experts
Web Developer

A web technician responsible for ensuring all the pieces come together successfully using code.

  • Responsible for the code that tells a website what to do
  • Implements code to display visuals created by a designer
  • Helps SEO specialists, content writers, and others contribute
  • Includes front-end, back-end, and full-stack developers

*An important note‍: Some web designers and web developers are, in fact, the same person, while others are entirely separate.

Exploring qualities and qualifications of importance

If you want to get your site out there, you have to hire. And the sky's the limit these days with all the different options available online, so how do you know which one to choose? The fact is, if this is your first time hiring, you don't, not until you've worked with one for a while. However, there are several things you can do to assess a prospective partnership before signing a contract.

  • Availability
  • Experience
  • Professionalism
  • Personality
  • Communication skills
  • Marketing & sales efforts/approach
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Affordability
  • Transparency
  • Design process
  • Public reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Previous work
  • Client history

*This is not an exhaustive list of qualifications, and some may be more important to you, but they should be helpful as you begin your search.

Hiring a good fit web designer

It can be a considerable headache to find the right web designer when you're running a business. But don't worry, having made it this far, you're already well on your way towards finding the best fit for you, your company, and your website, with the assurance that you've done your due diligence and your efforts have been worthwhile.

Summary: Steps to finding the best partner for your website

  1. Define the scope of your project
  2. Estimate your potential ROI
  3. Determine your preferred type of partnership
  4. Define the qualities of importance to you/your project
  5. Make a list of the top designers in your area or online
  6. Get a quote from each designer (they're often free)
  7. Consider options based on your preferences and needs
  8. Hire one and get your project underway

Have questions?

Contact me at tony@layoftheland.design

Tony Seets
Owner at Lay of the Land Design
General
April 24, 2021
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