When the time comes to create or renovate your website, choosing the best web designer for the job can seem daunting—especially after reviewing endless portfolios and reading similar promises to design the website of your dreams. However, the process doesn’t need to be so painful. Here are some tips on how to navigate choosing the web designer that’s right for you and your business.
Reviewing Portfolios Can Be Fun
When it comes to choosing a web designer, functionality is just as important as style. Don’t rely on just the screenshots of websites: visit the live website and interact with their designs. You will get a much better understanding of what the designer can do for you.
Just remember that portfolios aren’t a comprehensive list of everything a designer is able to do—you might be the first person to want a certain feature! And while exploring websites you likely wouldn’t visit otherwise, you can also gather ideas about what you do or don’t want for your own website.
Content, Content, Content
Above all, content comes first. When reviewing portfolios, you should be able to quickly discern the company’s call to action and other important information. If you have trouble finding these things, then they probably aren’t the right web designer for you.
Your goals and message should never be obstructed by the design.
When reviewing a potential web designer’s portfolio, make sure that they include examples of responsive sites. As more people are using their phones to browse vs their desktop or laptop, it’s important that a web designer has ample experience optimizing for mobile. The examples above and below highlight what each client’s site looks like on laptop vs a phone.
Never Forget Marketing
The best of the best web designers will distinguish themselves by having the marketing knowledge and tools to match their design and technical abilities.
Great web design will seamlessly integrate SEO and social media, rather than adding it all at the end as an afterthought. If you come across a web designer who isn’t mentioning marketing strategies as part of the design process, you’d better keep moving.
Crystal Clear Communication
A web designer’s own website and portfolio will be able to tell you a lot about who they are and what they can do, but eventually you’ll have to start talking to some potential candidates. You don’t have to have every little detail planned out, but have a clear idea of the website’s purpose and your goals before you start talking. (And hopefully you found some good ideas while browsing portfolios!) They may not agree with all of your ideas, but this is the time to be firm about the things you want the most.
Rely on Their Expertise
Though a designer should respect your ideas and goals, you also don’t want a yes-man. Don’t forget who’s the expert at web design. When they disagree about an idea or feature, they should have the data to support why their alternative is better. This might come from web design industry standards and research, or it might come from past clients in your specific industry. Regardless, you should use their knowledge and experience as a resource while collaborating.
People-Approved Past Experiences
Once you’ve narrowed it down to your favorite candidates, you should ask for references and speak to past clients. Of course, you won’t be referred to anyone who has negative things to say, but there is still plenty you can learn about the process of working with the designer. Did they provide progress updates regularly? Did they listen to ideas and feedback? Did they compromise well? Did they meet—or even better, exceed—expectations? All of these questions will help you understand if this is someone you can work with and whether or not they will accomplish all of your goals. Just because they were the best web designer for one person or company does not mean they are for you.