When choosing a web designer or web design agency, the number of options can be overwhelming. In 2018, web design constituted a $34B industry in the U.S alone. With so many professionals, freelancers and firms to choose from, there are many good options at many different price points.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad ones too.
In 2019, a website isn’t just a fancy business card: it is an essential asset to your business on every level. Paying a fair price is worth the gain, as long as you are working with good talent.
In this article, we’ll share seven traits of a great web designer. Conversely, be wary of those who fall short.
- Solid Work History
You would never hire an architect or graphic designer without samples of their previous work; the same thing absolutely goes for web designers. This may seem obvious, but it’s trickier than you might think.
Web design occurs in at least three stages:
- The designer produces a mockup, often assembled in Photoshop
- The designer creates code, assets and a backend to make the mockup a reality
- The designer assembles all the pieces and uploads it to a live web server
Until a designer gets to the third stage, there is no way to know how their sites work, how they feel, or how they look across various devices. This is especially true in the past few years with the increasing popularity of microinteractions and other animated web elements.
Be cautious of web designers who only provide screenshots, and no links to actual, working sites. Request these if they are not readily available and check for reviews from previous clients.
- Proof of Concept
Once you’ve seen legitimate samples of a designer’s work, you may feel confident that they can meet your needs. But don’t jump to conclusions: depending on what you want, a designer’s experience may not be a good match for your brand.
There are almost as many types and styles of web design as there are businesses, and every business has unique needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want your website to look like?
- What features should your website have?
- Do you want a content management system (CMS)?
- Do you want to integrate your site with third party applications like an ecommerce platform?
When you have sufficiently and specifically defined your needs, make sure your web designer is up for the challenge: reflect on the work you’ve seen and ask if it’s right for you.
- Professional Communicator
The importance of communication transcends web design, and anyone who works for you should have this skill. Without good communication abilities, ensuring a designer understands your vision is perilously difficult.
The best web designers will:
- Conduct thorough interviews with their clients to assess needs
- Provide straightforward terms of service, quotes and ETAs
- Submit regular updates on projects and respond to feedback quickly
- Keep you in touch with team members responsible for different parts of the project
If your conversation history with a designer seems a bit one-sided, that’s a bad sign. Good designers know that in order to please a client, they have to ask questions and seek feedback.
- A Clear Revision Policy
A website is not a static entity. Not only does a brand’s vision grow with time, but trends in design and SEO change rapidly, meaning that a site which worked well yesterday might work terribly tomorrow.
While it’s not essential to choose a web designer who can provide continuous updates to your site for an indefinite period, it is essential to choose someone who offers maintenance plans to handle health checks, revisions, and updates.
Avoid designers who either do not offer website maintenance plans and see your website as a single project and move on. Without some opportunity to modify what’s been done, you will probably be left with a disposable and incomplete asset.
- No Outsourcing
Outsourcing is not inherently a bad thing – after all, hiring a designer is a form of outsourcing. But when it comes to a website, outsourcing is only good when you’re the one doing it.
The further removed you are from creatives, the less control you have over a finished project. Moreover, a designer working in bad faith can use outsourcing to create plausible deniability if you are unsatisfied with results, lengthening the time to completion and adding expense.
When first interviewing a potential designer, ask to meet their team. If they cannot introduce you and name names, tread carefully.
- Understanding of KPIs
A website should look and feel great – that’s a given. But as an investment, a website serves a practical function: to build your brand, drive leads and increase revenue. There is no way to accomplish this without a solid understanding of Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
The best designers not only know how to make a website shine, but how to produce results. They will understand:
- Bounce rate
- Unique visitor count
- Average time on page
- Pages per session
And other metrics that show your site is drawing in visitors and keeping them satisfied. When vetting a designer, check for case studies that show they know what matters to a business.
- SEO Experience
It’s no understatement that SEO can make or break a website. But while most of your SEO efforts should center around content creation, the effect of web design on SERPs should not be an afterthought.
From landing pages to URLs, to structured data and sitemaps, a great web designer will know how to build and format a site for search engines. While the onus for ranking in the long term will fall on you, picking someone with the right knowhow will give you a running start.
Knowing What You Want
There’s a simple fact that leaders often forget: nobody can read minds. Even a web designer with superior skills and experience cannot do their jobs well without understanding your goals, business model, and unique needs.
Just as you must pick “the right guy for the job,” you must also be prepared to furnish your designer with clear expectations and an overarching strategy. Before looking for a great web designer, make sure that you’re a great client: the best results always come from collaboration.
Conveyance Marketing Group is a team of bright, innovative and talented veteran marketers dedicated to big ideas, fresh insights and measurable results. We pride ourselves on taking challenging marketing issues and turning them into opportunities for our clients, on pointing brands in the right direction, and on getting our customers noticed both online and off. From branding to websites to digital marketing, and public relations, we handle all your marketing communication needs! Web Design and Development | Brand Strategy | Inbound Marketing | Social Media | SEO | PR