With so many choices for web design templates, it’s now easier to create your own website. All you need is a reliable web host and tons of creativity to make it possible. But is that all there is to it?
While tools and guides for DIY web designing might not be a problem anymore, it’s understandable that not all people have the time or the skills to design their websites themselves. If you want to hire a professional to design your website, today’s post will highlight the things to consider when choosing the right person for the job.
But first, what’s the difference between a web designer and web developer?
Before we could go any further on what to look for in a web designer, let’s discuss the difference between a designer and developer. They are often mistakenly interchanged so understanding the difference between these two can guide you on what kind of website expert you actually need.
Generally, a web designer is someone who is responsible for the aesthetics (look and feel) of a website. They work with the branding or logo, the color, the fonts and layout of web pages. They provide mockups (a draft containing images and texts of how the website will look). Web designing is more than just making a website look pretty. Designers are skilled at arranging content, organizing layouts, creating calls-to-action that meets the design goals of a website.
A web developer is a website professional that works with a web designer’s mockups to develop a useful website. If your website is built on WordPress, a web developer may tailor-fit an existing template or theme to suit a mockup or build an entirely customized theme. Web developers include functionality to a website and assists with troubleshooting when issues arise.
Why is it so important to know the difference?
Some people might think of hiring a web developer when what they need is a web designer. Before you can start with your search, it’s crucial to list down the services you need done for your website.
So, say for example you want your website to:
- Inform people about the products or services you’re offering
- Teach people how to contact your business for questions
- Make people sign up for a promo newsletter.
These are pretty straightforward features and either a designer or a developer can do these tasks just fine. If you don’t need a highly specialised website, you can also do it yourself as there are hundreds of plugins for email opt-ins and contact forms ready for download.
However, if you want to start selling and take payments directly from your site, then you might need these features:
- ecommerce software
- payment gateway (ex. PayPal),
- accounting software that sync between your online shop and main store and
- advanced employee access to process orders and payments
Your project now becomes more sophisticated and might require a solution customized specifically for your website. You would likely need a web designer AND maybe a developer, depending on how well the functionality will fuse with the existing design.
Still need to hire a web designer? Here are some tips to take note of:
- Check out the designer’s portfolio and see if his style aligns with how your website will look.
Browse around the designer’s portfolio–notice any distinct styles, colors, fonts, or logos. If you want something elegant and clean, it should reflect that in the designer’s portfolio.
- Do some online search. Dig through search engines, social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, reviews and forum sites. If possible, ask for references from previous clients.
Verify for any possible red flags but take every comment or review you find with a grain of salt. Consider the past performance, number of years in service to gauge your decision when hiring a design professional.
When looking for references, don’t just look for generic recommendations. Be specific with what your requirements are. Check out projects from their previous clients that might be related to your own.
- Ask if revisions are allowed. If so, is there an additional cost for the revisions?
If you hired project-based web designer, you are hiring him or her to complete a design project as detailed on the contract. Their services are not offered for a lifetime. List down ahead of time the expenses involved when changing designs or layouts. Take note that rates may change over time, so you might want to be flexible with your cost calculation in the future.
- Take note of any type of maintenance your site will need.
Building a website is not just one-time thing. It is an ongoing cost because it needs to be constantly updated (for third-party plugins and themes) to function.
Your web designer may include maintenance with his service, or recommend someone who can. If you know how to troubleshoot websites, then you can actually do it yourself, too.
- Communication and customer service should be their top priority.
Nothing could be worst than working with someone who’s not attentive to deadlines or can’t give you regular updates about their work. Whether you’re working with a freelancer or a design team, it’s important for your next designer to have a strong track record with effective communication with their clients.
Where to Find Quality Web Designers
One of the challenging aspects of hiring a web designer is knowing where to find one. The good news is that there are plenty of sites where clients and web designers meet and work on projects.
Here’s a rundown of the best sites to find a designer. Most of them are either freelance sites, portfolio sites or a job marketplace where you can upload your project requirements.
- Upwork – This is a popular online site for freelancers. You can post your design job here, browse thousands of freelancer profiles and portfolios and view proposals. You can also review work activity, send a message and check out past client feedback. It has more than 3.1 million registered freelancers.
- Behance – It’s a creative work discovery site with an active job board where you can find quality talent. Its interactive portfolio features graphic designs, photos, interactive designs, art directions and illustrations.
- Guru – Search over thousands of creative professionals or business specialists, often called “gurus”. Here you can manage projects through milestones and tasks and communicate with your designer.
- Envato Studio – Formerly called Freelance Switch, Envato Studio is an online marketplace to find quality designers, developers and creatives to work certain projects.
- 99 Designs – Create a design brief and pick the best designer by launching a contest. Of course, the larger the prize, the more design entries you will receive. After the 7-day contest, the chosen designer wins the prize and you get full copyright to his design.