Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer

Design | |

Whether you’re starting out online or having an existing website updated, choosing the right web designer for the job can put you on the right track to online success. But what makes a web designer great? We’ve put together our top 5 tips for choosing a web designer that you can effectively use to narrow down your selection.

1. Decide on a budget

When deciding on a web design budget it really is (or should be) a case of “the more you pay the more you get”.

The vast majority of web designers and developers work on a time basis. They will look at your requirements and decide how much time is needed from themselves or their team to complete the job, and then multiply that figure by a daily or hourly rate. So, if one designer quotes much less than the others you’ve approached, ask them all what daily or hourly rate they are charging. If their rate is similar but the overall cost is less, you can be sure that they will spend less time understanding your business, researching what is required to make the website a success and finishing the website to a high standard. As a reference point, the industry average is probably around £300 per day (or £50 per hour).

Before you go spending, it’s crucial to decide how important your website is to you, are you simply looking for an online presence because it’s the done thing or could it be a truly significant source of revenue for you?

If you don’t see your website as a valuable asset, could you be underestimating the number of people who look for your products or services online? Google provides a keyword planner tool which can show you the number of people that search for a particular keyword or phrase. This can be a good start when trying to understand the potential exposure a good website can bring.

2. Can they provide ongoing support?

You will no doubt get a better daily or hourly rate from smaller businesses with lower overheads, but you are also likely to get poorer ongoing support from a smaller pool of resources and skills. Are you looking at a one-man-band that could leave you in the lurch when they go on holiday? Could this be an issue for you if there is a problem with your website and you need support urgently? Is your website so important that you may need out-of-hours or 24-hour support?

If you are still in doubt why not try testing their support? Just pick up the phone and give them a call! Maybe even ask them a technical question to see if you can actually speak to someone with the required skills.

3. Look at their portfolio

Any web designer worth their salt should have a good number of websites in their portfolio. If you can’t find something from your own or a related industry then look for websites with similar functionality, for example an online booking or payment system.

You can also search for designs that you particularly like the look of, but don’t forget that the best designers produce whatever is required to appeal to the target audience – just because the sites in the portfolio aren’t your style, don’t be put off.

Try to think objectively, look at the websites and consider whether you would enjoy using them if you were in their target audience. Would you be impressed enough by the company being promoted to get in touch? Is it easy enough to get in touch with them?

4. Get testimonials

What better way to get a testimonial than to speak directly to someone the designer has worked with. Why not try calling a some of the companies your potential web designer has launched websites for, maybe a selection of the best from their portfolio? You only need a minute of their time to ask:

  • were they easy to collaborate with?
  • did they finish the project on time and on budget?
  • did they do everything they promised?
  • are they providing good long-term support?

Some designers will use third party online review systems to collect genuine feedback from their customers too. Look out for these and try searching online for feedback and reviews for the designer.

5. Don’t discount your previous web designer

It’s a common misconception that web design is an art-form, and if you go back to your original designer it will result in something similar to your existing website being developed.

In fact, a good graphic designer or web designer should be able to produce hugely varied designs depending on the requirements of the project. Their own natural style shouldn’t be a significant factor. In this line of work, we are lucky to be in an industry where technologies are moving forward at a stunning pace so within months of developing a website your designer, providing they move with the times, should have a whole new set of tools available to them to produce something that exceeds their previous work.

Hopefully you’ll be able to use these tips to select the best web designer for the job, if you can think of any other handy tips we’d love to hear from you!

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Anthony is Ballyhoo's Managing Director and Web Developer, responsible for building your website and keeping it online.