Do you need to hire a web designer to create a website for your business? You’re in the right place. This post will walk you through what steps to take, and what to expect during this process. Finding the right web designer for your project is crucial to staying under budget, and getting the website you really want. (And if you’re interested, check out my own website design services!)
What to think about before hiring a designer
Before you start contacting web designers, I would write out a list of what you’re needing in a designer and what your goals are for your website. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the bells and whistles of websites! So, here are some questions you need to think through:
- Can they manage the website for me? Or, do I want to manage it myself?
- Do they have experience with this type of site? (i.e. – you want a membership site, an e-commerce website, etc. It doesn’t have to be your specific industry.)
- What is my budget for everything? (Design, copy, hosting, extras, etc.)
- What is my budget for ongoing support? Or, do I plan on doing my own updates?
- Do I like my current branding, or do I want that updated as well?
You’ll also want to think through the functionality and needs of your website:
- How many pages do you want / need?
- Do you want to blog? Podcast? Add YouTube videos?
- Do you want to sell digital or physical products? (Or both?)
- Are you hosting courses or memberships on the website?
- What other third-party platforms does it need to connect to?
- How important is search engine optimization (SEO) to you?
- Do you want to be able to look at analytics for your website traffic?
- Do you want customers to leave reviews for your products?
- Do you need to have printable recipes in blog posts?
- Do you want to run ads on your website?
- Do you need to have a Facebook pixel on your website?
How to find and hire a website designer
In your search for a website designer, I would start with your own network. First ask business colleagues if they have a web designer they recommend. (Though, I would caution you against hiring your neighbor’s son, or your brother-in-law’s cousin who does it as a hobby.)
But, even with referrals, make sure that the designer is truly a good fit for you and your needs! They may be a great designer, but not for YOU. We’ll talk more about what to look for in a website designer below.
If you’ve exhausted your network and need more places to look for a web designer:
- Google “Web designers near me” and see if any local designers are a good fit
- Google “Web designers for ______” (your industry or niche) and see if any pop up
- Ask for suggestions on Instagram or LinkedIn
- Look at websites you love, and see if there’s a site design credit in the footer
- Search on Pinterest for web design inspiration, and the images usually go back to the website designer’s website portfolio
I DO NOT recommend looking for web designers on Fiverr or 99Designs. You want a designer who isn’t juggling 50+ projects and just throwing out websites left and right. As a business, you need a website designer who will go through the strategy and goals of your website, who dives in-depth into your business needs, and gives you a personalized experience.
Credentials/education don’t necessarily have as much weight in the web design world. There are plenty of self-taught web designers who are fantastic designers and provide a good product. On the other hand, there are plenty who have “extra” knowledge and training (UX, SEO, etc.) that can be very beneficial.
I don’t believe that you need a designer who has done a website for your EXACT industry or job title, unless it’s something very specialized, or you’re looking for specific functionality. (Realtors are a good example of this, as they have very specific needs for their website.) It’s more important to find a web designer who fits your design style and needs.
What to look for in a website designer
So, with all of this talk about finding the right designer for you and your business… what do you need to look for?!
Going back to the functionality of your website, does your designer have experience with what you need to do? This really applies to complex functionality, like shops, memberships, courses, etc.
And how long have they been in business doing websites? I don’t want to give you a minimum requirement because there are plenty of designers who have been doing this for 3 years who are just as great as people who have been doing it for 8 years! Just keep in mind that if they are new AND cheap… you often get what you pay for 😉
Every person has different design preferences, so what are you looking for? Going back to finding a designer, looking on Pinterest for inspiration is a great idea because then you go straight to the source of the design!
Keep in mind that colors and fonts on websites can always be changed. So, just because you like a design but hate that there’s so much purple in the design… well, if your brand doesn’t have purple, then neither will your website! Try to focus on layout and style (super simple, lots of texture, geometric shapes, etc.), rather than just colors and photos.
What’s included in their package
Some designers include hosting, some don’t. Some will optimize your website for search (SEO), some won’t. Some will have a limit on how many pages are included in the design.
What I really recommend looking at is the support they provide (or don’t provide) after your website is live, and if it’s in line with what you need. For example, I tell my own website design clients that I’m here as much as they need me. If they want monthly help, or just once a year, or if they can handle it all by themselves… whatever works for them!
Red flags to look for in a website designer
There are good things to look for (what you just read), but there are plenty of red flags with web designers, so let’s discuss that as well.
Contracts protect both you and the web designer, so you want to be sure that whoever you’re working with has a solid contract. And don’t just sign it without reading! (Unfortunately, many do this.)
You want to review what their policies are for delayed projects (if it’s your fault or theirs), late payments, what is required of you and what’s required of them, what if you don’t like the design, and what if you want to cancel the project.
Make guarantees about search results
Not every website designer offers SEO services, but if they do – they cannot guarantee you will rank in search. No one can guarantee it! Google has its own algorithm with 200+ SEO factors, so it’s impossible to guarantee. Are there strong SEO strategies that will make it LIKELY to rank? Absolutely. But there’s a difference between helping increase your chances of ranking, and guaranteeing it.
No definitive timeline
Unfortunately, there are many horror stories about web designers who take months and months (and months) to design a website. Some websites require this amount of time, but not all. Your web designer should give you a definitive start date and project timeline. Or at the very least, a very specific time range.
For example, they might not have a specific date of starting March 10, but they can tell you they’ll start the second week of March. Maybe they don’t have a definitive timeline, but they know it’ll take 10-14 days, or 8-10 weeks, etc.
Questions to ask a website designer
After you’ve done your research, and you’ve found a few website designers to talk to, what’s next? Most designers will want to hop on a call with you to discuss your project, or at least discuss details via email. This is a great time to learn about their process, and ask questions.
Some questions you might want to ask the designers:
- Do you have a contract that you sign with clients?
- What is your payment policy? Do you offer payment plans?
- What is your design process?
- What happens if I don’t like what you come up with?
- How does the feedback and edit process work?
- How long is the project timeline?
- What elements do you need from me?
- Is it just you or do you have a team?
- What if I don’t have copy or photos ready in time?
- Have you worked on this type of website before?
- Do you think you can help me?
- What questions do you have for me?
- What website platforms do you use?
How much do web designers charge for a website?
What does a website cost? This is a super common question and one that has a variety of answers. You can see ads online for websites for $100, and you will see web designers who charge $10k for websites. What are you really paying for?
The difference in pricing for website design varies for many reasons:
- Experience and education of the designer: You’re paying for someone who (likely) spent four or more years getting a degree in design. (Not all designers have degrees in design.) A designer’s education, however they receive it, is the foundation behind everything we do. My college career is where I learned about color theory, layout and composition, paying attention to details, getting things printed, juggling projects, on and on.
- Software and tools the designer is using: Professional designers use professional equipment. Just like DSLR cameras take better photos than your iPhone, professional design software has more capabilities than Canva and PicMonkey. Many designers also invest in getting faster computers, drawing tablets, scanners, art supplies, nice cameras, etc.
- Methods and different approaches: I’ve learned over the years, that one reason people are so resistant to outsourcing their design is because it’s something they can do. But, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
- Location of the designer and their cost of living
- If the designer is a solopreneur or runs an agency
- What platform the designer is using
- If the website design is templated or custom-coded
- The size and functionality of the website
I know many web designers (myself included) who would say if you want a simple, but good website for your business, expect to spend at least $2,000-3,000 at the minimum. And by “simple” I mean 3-5 pages with no complex functionality, no e-commerce, etc.
When it comes to a website, you have to think of the value and ROI of what is being created for your website. Your website should be working hard for you, so think of it similarly to other equipment in your business: bakeries need huge machines to mix up the dough, plumbers need tools to fix sinks, salons need their tools and supplies.
These are the supplies you’re using with and for your clients, and the website is one of the pieces that is going to help bring in those clients.
How to hire a website designer
Now that you’ve got the gist of finding and working with a web designer, let’s summarize this experience from beginning to end:
- Make a list of what are absolute “musts” in your website, and what would be nice to have
- Do research on what type of design style you’re interested in
- Determine what type of timeline you’re on (and if you’re flexible with that date)
- Inquire with 2-3 website designers
- Sign a contract (!!) with your web designer of choice
- Have a call (or a few) with your designer to discuss the project
- Gather your assets for the website
- Begin the project, go through rounds of edits and feedback
- Launch the new website!
Hopefully this post gave you a great starting point to find the right web designer for your project. There are so many great web designers out there, it’s just about finding the one that’s the right fit for your style and budget. (And don’t forget to check out my website design services during your research!)