You’ve probably heard experiences of small business owners who hired unreliable web designers – ones that turned out to be disappointments. Or, maybe it’s happened to you.
What went wrong? The website designer either…
Whatever the case, the business owner typically has to cut losses and find a new web designer to complete the job. So, you may be wondering, “How do I prevent that from happening to me?”
First, let’s talk about what I mean when I say reliable designer, so we’re both on the same page.
A reliable web designer is trustworthy, dependable, skilled, and professional. They’re worth every penny because they deliver on their promise to create you a professional website.
You can trust them because they will:
For just those reasons alone, you see how valuable it is to take your time and find the right designer. Now, here are some tips to help you find one.
Here is some insight into how to detect whether the designer you're thinking about hiring seems reliable or not.
Of course, there’s no surefire way to know what someone is truly like on the inside. However, these tips help you gauge your prospective designer’s reliability, based on things business owners told me they wished they paid more attention to or knew ahead of time.
That way, you can hopefully make a better choice and have an even better outcome!
Some website owners who’ve worked with part-time web designers in the past were extremely disappointed. Why?
Because the designer didn’t give their client’s website priority. The part-time designer was more dedicated to their 9-to-5 job.
Designers who run a web design business full-time are more likely to be reliable than a designer that does work on the side. Why?
A full-time designer has all their eggs in one basket… their business. It’s their primary source of income. And they know their business thrives on keeping a good reputation and making happy customers. So, they are least likely to mess you over.
Whereas designers who hold down another 9-to-5 job and do web design work on the side focuses on pleasing their boss first. That’s because their primary source of income comes from the other job.
Would you go to a barber or beautician that had unkempt hair? No, you would run to the other chair!
The same principle is true of a web designer. They should have a nice website, since this is their profession.
When you find a site that is well-designed, polished, functions properly, and the messaging speaks to you… all those things are good signs. It shows that the designer of that site will likely do a good job for you.
In contrast, when you visit a designer’s website that is unappealing, ill-functioning, or even outdated… what does that tell you about them? It’s likely not good.
The truth of the matter is… if that web designer doesn’t put much care into their own website… chances are they won’t put much more care into yours either.
Websites have a lot of technical parts to setup in addition to the design and layout. So, it takes an organized and detail-oriented person to build a good website design.
How can you tell you’re choosing a web designer that possess those qualities before jumping into a project with them?
Think about this:
In the quoting phase, does the designer ask you plenty of questions about your project? If they do, it shows they are trying to gather enough information to make an accurate quote, to really understand your needs, and the task at hand.
Do they take notes while your discussing your website? This shows they are making a conscious effort not to forget a detail discussed.
On the designer’s quote, did they itemize the features you discussed, or is everything vague and general?
Those factors show whether your designer is on top of things even before the project has started.
A portfolio of past work helps you see a designer’s capabilities.
But when choosing a web designer, be mindful of whether their portfolio is just advertising what they could do, or whether it displays what they have done.
That’s because some beginner designers use mockups or sample sites… which are not always a bad thing… but, it doesn’t help you verify they can really build and launch the site pictured.
A good designer likely has a portfolio of operable websites proving their skills and experience – not merely non-existent website mockups created in Photoshop or Figma.
Here’s how you can verify a website design is real or not – that way you don’t get drawn in by a mockup portfolio
Most designers’ portfolios display a screenshot of the website design with a link. So, if you can’t find a URL to visit the live site, do a Google search for the name of that business website to see if anything comes up.
If you can’t find a live site under that name, it’s possibly due to one of two reasons. One, the website design displayed is a mockup. Or two, the website was real but at some point, that client went out of business, and the designer still chose to feature the site in their portfolio.
Still unsure the site is real? Ask the designer to send you links to live websites they worked on.
Next, when you have a chance to view a few live websites that the designer has created, it’s time to examine the sites further. Ask yourself: Does this site live up to my expectations? If this was my website, would I be happy with the quality of work, functionality, etc…?
If so, you have found a capable and dependable designer. Someone who can create websites as advertised and deliver services as promised.
Being able to easily communicate back and forth with your designer throughout the design process is vital.
When the lines of communication are flowing, chances are the project runs smoothly without delay. That means you can count on your website being finished on time.
So, pay attention to how easy it is to contact your designer.
Questions to think about:
Please note that when you call the designer and they don’t pick up the phone, that’s not necessarily a bad sign. Sometimes we designers are truly busy at the moment, so leave a message. The true test is how long it takes for them to call back.
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