For small to mid-sized businesses, web design is integral to maintaining business and increasing sales. Good web design and development helps bring more prospective customers into your website and therefore introduces more prospective customers to your business; on the other hand, poor web design can literally drive the hottest leads away with unintuitive user interface, poor navigation, outdated design styles, unpleasant palette choice and more.
A great solution is to hire a freelance web designer. Crowdsourcing sites like Designhill make it easier to find someone able to work within your budget, but this only works if you know what to look for. Just because you can go through the portfolios of hundreds of freelance designers at Designhill doesn’t mean you’re any closer to finding the one that works for you.
The Best Designers Talk Business, Not Budget
While there’s nothing wrong with a freelancer setting down some ground rules regarding price and turnaround, according to PassionForBusiness.com a truly great designer will ask about your business more than your budget. In order to properly create a website that puts forth the right image, a designer needs to know what your company stands for, who they cater to and so on.
Keep your ears open for these key questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- How long have you been in business?
- What makes your company better than the competition?
- What kind of brand image do you want to portray?
- What do you want your new website to achieve?
You should have answers to all these questions prepared before you even start looking for a designer, but when it comes to web design you don’t want to lay them all out on the table at once. If the designer in question doesn’t ask any of these questions, or at least questions similar to them, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Trust the Portfolio, For Better or Worse
Every designer you consider should have a portfolio of previous work. As noted by the Future Buzz, browsing through a designer’s portfolio should help give you a sense of their personal artistic style, and help you to make sure their work is in line with the image you want to portray. Don’t look for ways to help them broaden their horizons, either; no matter how skilled the designer may be, if the image you’re hoping for is completely different from everything they’ve done it will be better for you and them to find someone with a more appropriate style.
Their portfolio is also the best place to get a feel for their skill level, not to mention point out red flags and inconsistencies in design level. If you’re finding that their older websites feature better design, or that the overall skill level seems to vary from project to project, it’s a good idea to either look elsewhere or even question your prospective designer about the inconsistency. Often, the answer will be something as simple as picky clients, but if the response is defensive or vague it’s better to move on to the next candidate.
Ask the Right Questions
The most important aspect of finding a great web designer is up to how well they answer the important questions—if they let you ask them at all. Great designers encourage clients to ask questions in order to better understand the project, while poor designers tend to become frustrated and even resistant when specific questions are asked. This isn’t because they don’t want to answer, of course, but because they lack the knowhow to provide a solid answer and don’t want you to know. A good designer is willing and ready to admit if they’re not sure about something simply because they know they have the skill to make up for any uncertainties they may face throughout the course of the project. Less capable designers lack this confidence.
According to Forbes, you should be prepared to ask the following questions before you hire a web designer or developer to work with your business:
- How much will this cost? Even if you’ve already set out a budget, getting a range of possible additional costs or discounts is key.
- How long will the project take? You should already have a timeframe in mind, but remember that it may have to change as the project scope shifts during production.
- Are there any other services or training provided to me? Find out if your designer or developer is going to train you on how to properly use your new website before you tell them to make it so.
- What do I need to do? If the response here is “nothing,” find someone else. Your designer should meet this question with questions or requirements of their own in order to understand your business better, as mentioned earlier.
Once you’ve answered the right questions, asked the right questions and found a style that works for you, you’ve found the designer your business needs. Search for designers on trusted crowdsourcing websites, or even through friends and colleagues, and before long you’ll have found someone you can trust to take your brand image to the next level online.