Web design isn’t rocket science but it’s still hard to find a good web designer. In fact I’m sometimes embarrassed to tell people I’m a web designer because there are so many bad web designers around.
Anyone with a computer can start designing websites and, because most business owners are also new to Internet marketing, people don’t know how to find a good web designer.
Like second hand car dealers and real estate agents, web designers have a seedy reputation so people are wary of them and tend to choose friends (or friends of friends) to design their website because they think that’s the safest option.
With his BSc in Computer Science and my MA in Design for Interactive Media, my husband Rich and I are qualified web designers, but we’ve found clients don’t care that much about qualifications. They care more about working with people they know personally or who are part of their local network.
So, in the 15 years we’ve been running our web design business Mucho, we’ve heard countless web design disaster stories from business owners who entrusted their web or blog design to the wrong web designer. Often a friend, or a friend of a friend, who meant well but just didn’t have the skills and experience to do a good job.
So here are the five most common problems with web designers and how to find a good web designer:
1. Loves the idea of being a web designer, working from home and making easy money
Solution: Find someone who listens and really cares about you and your business, not just theirs.
Look for a web designer who spends time finding out exactly what you need and gives you a detailed proposal with a fixed costing.
Cheap template sites are the quickest solution for new web designers but they may not be the best option for your site design. Expect to spend an hour talking to or emailing your web designer who should want to know about every aspect of your business including your short and long-term goals.
2. Can’t complete or update your website
Solution: Look for a web designer who is confident and makes things sound easy, not difficult. They many need time to work out the best solution but if they leave you feeling confused it’s probably because they are too.
Experienced web designers will cost more, usually charging $100-250 per hour, but it’s worth spending more for someone who can do the job on time, on budget and to meet your expectations.
3. New to the trade and doesn’t use WordPress
Solution: Look for a web designer who understands user-friendly design and the latest developments in Internet marketing and social media. The more experience they have the better they can advise you on the best solution for your website.
A lot of web designers are techies who use software they love like Joomla or Drupla but these days WordPress is probably the best solution for your blog design or even a static website. Not least because it will be easy for you to update and easier to find another web designer who can take over if the first messes up.
4. Loves tinkering around on the computer
Solution: Look for a web designer who can create a simple solution which will stand the test of time. There are new options available every day like Flash-enabled sites, bandwidth hungry slide shows and splash screens that crash computers.
Your web designer may enjoy playing around with them but those things won’t impress your clients, plus you’ll be spending money on things you don’t need, which are hard to maintain and which could slow your site down. Being able to find and read the information fast is what counts for your clients and blog readers so choose a web designer who sets up classic, user-friendly websites that will stand the test of time.
5. Is a one-man or woman business
Solution: Some web designers are charming sales people or graphic designers who sub the work out to techies in India or the Philippines. Their rates are usually cheaper but it’s unlikely you’ll end up with a good website and future updates could be problematic because the original coder may not be around any more and, because the site will probably have been coded badly anyway, you’ll have to start again from scratch.
Other web designers are techies who can code your site but don’t understand how to win business online, interface design, online legibility, social media or search engine optimisation.
You need a web design team working on your site with at least two people including a project manager, a coder and a graphic designer who between them know and understand the principles of good web design and how to get blog traffic.
Always talk to your web designer on the phone and communicate by email to see how easy it is to get in touch with them and how responsive they are. Your web designer probably won’t be a friend or even a friend of a friend but they should still be easy to get hold of, friendly and trustworthy.
There are a lot of bad web designers around so make it your mission to find a good one who can design a blog or website that will do you and your business justice.
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