Choosing the Right Web Designer for your Business Website

Let’s face it - many businesses have horror stories involving web designers.

We’ve seen firsthand how frustrating and costly it can be to choose the wrong partner for building your website. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, considering the significant investment involved.

Your website represents your organization and reflects who you are, what you do, and how you do it. It needs to be both functional and visually appealing, capturing the essence of your brand. That’s why it’s crucial to work with a web designer who understands your vision, provides valuable input, and can bring it to life within a reasonable budget.

If you’re ready for a new website and want to avoid becoming the next horror story, we’ve compiled a list of essential factors to consider when selecting a web designer/developer for your website.

Do They Have Both Real-World Experience?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive increase in entry-level web developers. At first, many people (including us) viewed this as a good thing. People will always need websites, so we need more skilled developers in the field!

The problem is that, as we write this in 2023, the number of people trying to enter web development vastly outnumbers the number of entry-level positions. Coding bootcamps have soared in popularity, often over-promising jobs and undelivering skillsets. You can learn a lot in a 6 month rigorous training program, but mastering web development takes years of full-time experience.

Many are opting for the self-taught route as well. We applaud self-taught developers, as they show initiative and drive to succeed in their new passion.

But, bootcamps and self-taught developers lack one important skill: real-world experience. The entry-level job market is over-saturated, making it hard for new developers to enter the field. Therefore, many choose freelancing or starting their own development business.

It’s tough for beginners to judge their own abilities and knowledge gaps accurately, causing them to overlook the vast variety of developer tools, resulting in sub-par websites. A lot of beginners choose no-code website builders over the best tools available, typically because no-code website builders are very easy to learn. These website builders are often not the best choice for small business websites.

When choosing a developer or designer, especially one that hasn’t been in business for long, ask about their real-world experience. Make sure they have a background in creating real websites, as this experience shows they understand the tools available and can choose the right tool for your website.

Do they have a Web Design Portfolio?

Professional web design companies, and even freelancers, should have a readily accessible portfolio that showcases their design skills. When reviewing their work, consider whether their designs resonate with you. Are they all similar, targeting the same industry? While beautiful designs are great, it’s important to evaluate usability, accessibility, and conversion elements. Look for websites with a clean user flow, clear calls to action, and easy access to key information. Don’t forget to ask for URLs of their previous projects to explore them firsthand. We recommend checking two things:

Do They Prioritize Marketing or Web Design?

When selecting a web designer for your business website, it’s essential to assess what they prioritize more: marketing tactics vs core web design principles.

Why? Simply, websites help your customers understand and engage with your business. You can achieve this by loading your website with honest, helpful information. Designers that prioritize marketing use language that search engines appreciate, but not your customers. Also, they often try to sell you additional features and subscriptions that significantly increase their profit, but may not provide your business with the benefits that they over-promise.

While marketing expertise can be valuable as your business grows, a web designer’s primary focus should be on creating an aesthetically pleasing and functional website that aligns with your brand and goals. A good website does not need to be chock full of marketing keywords in order to be successful.

A good web designer understands the importance of user experience and conversion optimization. However, if their primary focus is solely on driving conversions without considering the overall design, usability, speed, and intuitive navigation, it may indicate a marketing-centric approach rather than a holistic web design mindset.

What is Their Web Design Process?

Understanding a web designer’s approach and process will give you insight into whether you’re on the same page. Look for a designer who values collaboration and listens to your ideas while bringing their own expertise to the table. You want someone who appreciates your knowledge of your organization and can guide you through the design and user experience process efficiently. Ask questions about their design process, the level of interactivity, and at what point you’ll be involved. It’s important to ensure they can translate your vision into a final product without excessive back-and-forth.

What kind of long-term maintenance costs will they require from you?

Building a website can be costly, but maintaining it can be even costlier. A Wordpress website hosted on a mid-level quality server can range from $15 to $100 per month. You’ll likely end up paying for premium Wordpress plugins as well, which creates many unexpected costs. Compared to a static website that can be hosted for completely free (subject to a few conditions, of course), this adds up very fast.

Ask yourself: Are you ready to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars per year, just to keep your website online?

Certain websites will require hosting solutions like this, such as e-commerce websites or websites with a lot of traffic (e.g. 10k unique visitors per day). But, many small business websites do not expensive servers. In fact, we hosted mesmerdesign.ca completely free for years, and we only upgraded to paying $19 per month so that we could access certain features. This was 100% optional on our part, and we could have continued hosting our static website completely free.

Always, always ask about maintenance costs. Some web design agencies only offer a mandatory “we will maintain your website for an expensive fee per month”. Always question this. In most cases, there is no reason for this, and these agencies only do this for easy profit. In fact, most websites that don’t change often require little to no maintenance if set up well.

Find yourself a web designer that is driven by customer satisfaction and honesty. You’ll be thanking yourself in the long run.

Do Your Personalities Complement Each Other?

While often overlooked, personal compatibility is vital when working with a web designer. Remember that you may be collaborating with them for several months, so it’s essential to establish a positive working relationship. Take the time to learn more about their background, what they enjoy about building websites, and their interests outside of work. This can help you determine if you’ll get along and work well together.

Is Their Web Design Pricing Reasonable?

Finally, consider the pricing aspect. It’s wise to gather quotes from multiple web designers, but remember that not all quotes are created equal. Pay attention to the details and what each quote includes:

There are a thousand different ways to create a website nowadays, and this means that different agencies will price differently. Find a web designer that has flexible pricing, will work with your budget, and most importantly, find a web designer that won’t sell you services that you don’t need.

Conclusion

By considering these essential factors and conducting thorough research, you can increase your chances of selecting a web designer who will deliver a website that not only meets your needs but also exceeds your expectations. Making an informed decision is the best way to create a website that you and your customers will love.

Partnered with DesignRush to promote reputable web design companies.