If you’re thinking about hiring a web designer, you may be feeling a bit puzzled. There are millions of website developing advertisements out there – how do you make sure you don’t get scammed or end up with a designer who is not able to fulfil your company's needs?
Based on my conversations with clients, that’s a common feeling, but one you can definitely workaround. Armed with a little more information about the qualities you should look for, you’ll be able to find a web designer who can meet your needs without losing your mind in the process.
What Is The Difference Between A Web Designer & Developer
Before we talk about what to look for in a designer, let’s talk about the differences between a web designer, a web developer. These labels aren’t set in stone, but knowing them can help you decide what type of professional you actually need.
In general, a web designer is someone who creates the look and feel of your website. A designer will work with you to choose colours, construct branding/logos if needed, discuss layouts for your website’s pages, and create mockups (which are pictures of how the actual website will look). Web design is more than just making amazing pictures; a designer should be knowledgable about concepts like calls to action, organizing your site’s content, and setting up layouts that will meet your goals for the site.
A web developer is someone who uses a designer’s mockups to build a functional website. Developers may also add functionality to an existing website or help with things like troubleshooting.
Often, people think they should hire a web designer when they may need a developer (or some combination of the two) instead. Before you start searching, it’s important to decide exactly what services and skills are necessary for your project.
For example, let’s say you're opening a show dog grooming business. you'll need a website that will do the following:
Tell people what my business offers
Allow customers to schedule appointments
Encourage people to sign up for my mailing list so you can send information (discounts, etc.) to pet owners in the area
Allow people to contact me if they have questions
That’s a pretty average list of needs and you could choose to work with either a design/development team to get the job done.
Another example: you have my pet grooming business, but you'd like to start selling products (shampoo, treats, toys, etc.) on your website and taking registration for obedience classes. you'll need to add the following new features:
Ecommerce and SSL with a payment gateway
Inventory management that syncs between the physical store and the online store
More advanced scheduling that allows for both (1) grooming appointments and (2) obedience classes with a limited number of registrations per class
Different levels of access for employees or team members who may need to log into the website to process orders
Suddenly your project has become more complicated. In this case, you'll likely need the services of a developer, and perhaps a designer depending on how the new functionality will integrate with my existing site’s design.
Still looking to hire a web designer? Here’s what to look for.
1. Does the designer’s style match the way you’d like your site to look?
If you want a very modern website, it doesn’t make sense to hire someone whose portfolio looks like a flashback to 1995.
2. Who will develop my website once I have the design? Is this included in the pricing?
Many designers partner with a developer so that clients pay one price for both design and development. Others may provide mockups that need to be taken elsewhere to be coded into an actual site. Either approach is fine, but you’ll want to be aware of the costs involved upfront so you can budget accordingly.
3. What kind of maintenance and upkeep will my site need?
Websites are not a one-time cost. Ahem. WEBSITES ARE NOT A ONE-TIME COST. You can’t make a million dollars on the internet (or even a few hundred dollars) without certain ongoing expenses. Websites have to be kept up to date, your web designer should be able to offer maintenance services for a monthly or yearly rate.
4. What kind of design files will I receive?
At a minimum, your designer should provide mockups in either PSD (Photoshop) or AI (Illustrator) format. You should also receive an editable version of your logo that is PSD, AI, EPS, or PDF. If any premium fonts or photos/graphics are used in the design, you should have a license for those as well, or permission to use the designer’s license depending on the rules for that particular font/graphic. (It’s your responsibility to find that information – do not depend on anyone else to tell you how fonts or graphics are licensed.)
5. Is the designer available if I need revisions or changes? What are the costs?
When you hire a web designer, you are hiring him/her for a project as defined in your contract (if there’s no contract, run away screaming). That doesn’t mean the designer is obligated to provide free services for life. Find out ahead of time what costs you’ll incur if you need changes or new layouts down the road, and keep in mind that rates do change over time – the ballpark rates a designer gives you in 2019 will not be the same if you contact him/her in 2021.
Not the right questions? You may not need a designer!
If you’re reading this thinking, These questions don’t even apply to my project! it’s possible you need both a designer and developer. As I mentioned, those labels can overlap, so there’s no perfect way to tell you what you need. Knowing the scope of your project and what you’ll want in terms of looks and functionality are key in finding the professional who is best qualified to help you.