..and not just ANY web designer
Hiring a web designer may be one of the first major things you don't 'DIY' with your business. So it could feel like a huge task!
You might be tempted to just ask your brother who built a website for himself one time. Or might think of asking that friend who works as a developer for a big company and would do you a favour on the side. Or maybe you're even tempted to forget about hiring someone and do this yourself too.
But really, do yourself a favour and hire a professional! These days your online presence is such a huge part of running a business. Just think, when was the last time you Googled a business to find out information about them, only to discover you couldn't find them at all? Or worse, you found their website, but it was just a page with their phone number? In this Internet-focused age, people want access to information at their fingertips. In fact, it's fairly well known that most so-called Millennials don't even like talking on the phone, they prefer text-based media like text messages and email. So food-for-thought: if your business targets that 18-34 age range, you'll need a good website to get their attention (and an email address where they can contact you).
Which brings me back to hiring a professional designer.
A professional will not only help you tackle things like design and writing code, but they'll also understand about online marketing, where content should be placed on your website, how to create a front page that attracts more clients, and essentially, how to help your website meet your business goals instead of just being something pretty or neat to look at.
So how do you find the right designer, then?
The first and most obvious thing to do is ask your friends and family for recommendations. Save those in a list and then begin your research (more on that below).
You can also look at websites you like that are in the general style you'd like yours to be. Usually in the footer (at the very bottom) in small text will be a credit line with the designer or design studio's name in it. Add any of these to your list.
Finally, if you're in a major city like I am, you probably have cafes, yoga studios, and other places where people post notices about local businesses and events. While this method may be more of a 'shot in the dark', it will expose you to smaller web design businesses that advertise in this way, and may be just the right fit for what you're looking for.
Once you've got your list, start looking at the following things for each entry:
- They must have a website, right? Take a look at it. Look at their portfolio and see if their overall style works for what you're looking for. Not sure how to tell? Well, if you run a yoga studio and want a simple, wellness-oriented website, but the portfolio you're looking at focuses on big corporate businesses, that's probably not the right fit.
- Read their bio and any text they've written about their services. Does it speak to you? Do you feel like you could work with this person?
- Do they have a blog dedicated to their business? Read some entries. Again, you're looking for things you relate to, to see if this designer seems to work and communicate in a way that works for you.
- What is the average cost of a website with them? Websites can cost a large range of prices. Is their average ballpark to what you can afford, or is it right out of the park?
Once you've chosen a few designers to approach, contact them to set up a time to talk about your website. Some designers may send you back some documentation to read, to answer some common questions and save you both some time. If so, that's great - read away! If you still feel they could be a good fit after reading, call them for a little interview.
When you interview a designer, you're looking to get more information about their process and what it's like working with them. Here's some potential questions you may want to ask (if they haven't already answered them for you before the call):
- How long have they been in business? Is this their full-time gig?
- What kinds of projects do they really love doing?
- When are they available to start new projects?
- How long does the process take?
- Do they make mobile-friendly websites?
- Do they do custom design or use templates?
- Who owns the website once it's finished?
- Do they offer support or maintenance after the website launches?
- Do they do all the work themselves, or are more people involved in the project?
- What would I need to do for this project? Who is responsible for obtaining images, writing text, creating logos (etc - ask this based on what you imagine you need for your site).
The interview can go a long way in getting a good feel for someone's communication style, and let you know if they speak too much geek.
After you've done this process, you'll be in good shape to choose a designer that is right for your business.
Good luck! And if you have any questions about this process, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments (or ping me on social media).