Hiring a Web Designer - 5 Easy Steps to find the right developer for you

7 min read

Let’s face it, hiring a web designer can be a minefield.

As developers ourselves, we constantly hear stories from clients about previous experiences, communication problems, unfinished projects, designers disappearing from the face of the Earth and all manner of questionable hidden costs.

When you are at the stage of hiring a web designer for your project, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind. In this article, we’ll take you through the process of finding the right developer for you.

This is covered in 5 simple steps;

  • Know what you need from your website
  • Decide your budget and timescales
  • Find and assess potential Web Designers
  • Acquire and compare quotes
  • Make an informed decision


Step 1: Know what you need from your website

Before you engage with any web design companies, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you need your website to do. Whilst putting together your Digital Marketing Plan, you will identify what you need from your website.

It’s a great idea to put together a website specification with all of the relevant details.

Do you need a promotional, brochure style website? Or will you require an Ecommerce system that can take payments online? Do you require a booking system? Think about the facilities your website needs and what you need to offer your users.

Create a Sitemap with a list of the pages you will require. Each page should serve a purpose, so be sure to structure the flow and intent behind each page.

If you have an existing website, what are the current issues you are looking to resolve with a new build?

Create a list of websites that you have seen and what you like about them. Think about features, layout, and design style.

Do you need additional services such as logo design, branding, photography, or SEO?

Put all of this information into your website specification so that you can present this to web designers when the time comes. This allows them to provide an accurate quotation based on your requirements.


Step 2: Decide your budget and timescales

Your Website Budget

Cost is always an important factor, so have a clear idea of what you are looking to spend on your website. Remember to factor in any marketing budget that will be dedicated to advertising on social media, SEO and/or 3rd Party Promotions.

In most instances there will be a cost for the design and development of the website, then monthly Hosting & Support changes, much like a mobile phone contract, so be sure to factor in what you can afford monthly.

You may not want to add your budget into your website brief at this stage.

Some developers may “quote to your budget”, maxing out what you can afford.

Others will use it as a guide to provide you with options. There may be ways of doing certain things in your specification that are not exactly as you would like them, but a compromise cost-wise.

We recommend discussing your budget when you have your initial quotes in so that you can explore this further with your potential designers.

Get the quotes for the system you want, then you can discuss what is achievable within your budget.

Time to Launch

Have a clear idea of when you would like to begin your project and when you would like your website to be live by. A good web design company will need to factor in, not just the design and build time, but live website testing. They will also want to allow time for feedback, design amendments and feature development.

Add your preferred timescales into your website specification.


Step 3: Find and assess potential Web Designers

Now your search begins! Once you have everything clear from your end, you can take it to web designers and developers to discuss the project. So how do we go about actually finding our potential web team?

A few ways of searching for web designers;

  • Directly search for web designers in your area via search engines, and check out the offerings of each of the companies.

  • If you have colleagues, friends, or family that have had a positive experience with their own web developer, be sure to add them to your list. A positive, reliable referral is worth its weight in gold.

  • Most websites will have a reference to the design company in the footer. If you like the look of a website, check out the company that produced it.

Points to assess when looking at these companies;

  • Every company should have a portfolio of their work. Take a look over the sites they have produced. Get a feel for how well they work, the design style and the functionality. Do they have experience in the type of website you are looking to develop?

  • Look for reviews and testimonials from previous clients. What was their experience like when working with the designer? Most companies will have reviews on their website or social media, so be sure to check those out.

    You may have more questions, so when you engage with your potential web designers, perhaps ask them for a selection of previous/existing clients. Perhaps even contact a few from their portfolio to get a direct view of those clients’ experiences.

  • Where are they based? Do they have a registered business address? Check out their website for contact information and location. It's important to have an accessible relationship with your developer, so be sure that they have full contact information and a registered business address.

  • Do these companies provide and cater for the services you require? For example, if you are launching an ecommerce website, are they able to develop this type of system. Can they work with branding, logo design and promotional materials? Do they develop responsive websites for mobile and tablet devices?

From your initial look at potential developers that fit your criteria, create a shortlist of at least 3 – 5 companies that you would like to consider. Then it's time to contact them.


Step 4: Acquire and compare quotes

From your new shortlist of Web Designers, you should now contact them directly to outline your project requirements and obtain a quote for the work.

We recommend that you review the website brief/specification that you have put together and send this via email to each of your shortlisted companies.

Indicate to them your preferred method of contact and ideal times that they can get in touch with you.

Most companies will contact you for further information or to clarify any points from your brief so that they can put together an accurate quotation for you.

Once each company has provided you with a quote, you should take some time to compare and look at the following points;

  • Before anything else, the quality of work is our primary consideration. Look at the examples of work provided in the quote and the portfolio that you initially reviewed. Has the web designer considered your brief and provided some relevant examples of work? Have they addressed any points regarding your required functionality and design preferences?

  • The all important cost! Does this fit in with your budget? If it's outside your budget, is it worth re-evaluating for the quality of work? If one quote is significantly lower, be sure to understand why. If one is significantly higher, what is the reason for this? If you are drawn to one developer, but the cost is outside your range, discuss your budget with them at this stage and decide if there are any compromises or staged development that can help with this.

    Be sure to fully understand the payment terms. It should be fair on both sides. You should not be expected to front up all of the cost before you see anything, and likewise the developer should be covered for the time they will be putting in. You should expect to see a deposit payment to show commitment to the project, and a sign-off payment when the website is complete. Larger projects may look to establish staged payment terms. You should also look at any ongoing charges for hosting, support and maintenance.

  • How does the company work? Do they provide timescales and an outline of the process? How will you provide feedback and input to your project? Will you be able to access and view the progress of the build at each stage of the process? Communication is absolutely essential during the process, so ensure that you have input and that the web designers establish a clear process.

    Will you be dealing directly with your designer or will you have an account manager? In our experience it's always much more effective to have direct contact with your designer through out the process rather than a sales representative.

  • What platform do the company use to build their websites? Will you be able to manage your own content? Is the hosting high speed and secure? Do they host and set up your emails? Do they offer support for when you are managing your website?

    The last thing you want is to launch a new website and then each month rack up an hourly bill for every time you call the web designer with a simple question. So be sure to look at the support package, what is included and how it is managed. Also, be sure that the company keep regular back-ups of your website.


Step 5: Make an informed decision

Once you have had chance to evaluate the quotations, be sure to go back to each developer with any questions you may have. Consider the factors and which are most important for you.

Explore options with payment terms, features, and functionality that will bring the cost to your budget.

Fully understand the process when it comes to future developments to your website as you grow, the costs involved and the flexibility of the system to grow with you.

Do you feel you can have a good relationship with the designers and do they show a good understanding of what you are looking to achieve?

Do they communicate well and have they answered all of your questions clearly and concisely?

Once you have made you decision, you can deliver the good news to your chosen designer. Make a final agreement on the cost, timescales and development schedule and start the exciting process of bringing your vision to the screen.


In summary

Hiring a web designer is an important decision that will have an impact on the success of your online presence.

It's important to have a strong relationship with good communication. Be sure to ask questions about anything that you would like more information on. Always compare costs based on quality and service. Sometimes a lower cost means lower quality. And likewise, sometimes a higher cost means unneccessary and overcomplicated developments.

You want the website that you need, so have open discussions, have reasons and explanations for everything. All costs should be justified in terms of the time and expertise required to achieve your project outcome.

If you are looking to launch a new website and would like to discuss your project, we'd love to chat to you.

Please feel free to get in touch - contact Watman & Worth Web


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