I’ve heard horror stories from both sides, and I’ve been on one of them. So lemme tell ya — most of the time? The conflict comes down to one pesky bastard:
So Imma share with you what I’ve learned these past two years so you can have a fantastic experience with your next partner in website crime & fabulousness.
How to hire a web designer you’ll wanna take to happy hour
Make sure your working styles are compatible
What is your web designer’s process?
What does working with her look like?
What are steps 1, 2, 3, 4, ad infinitum?
If it’s not up on her site, straight-up ask her. Get all the deets.
And, while you’re at it: make sure you jive with her answers. Because maybe you’ll:
- Work best with someone who has tight systems going instead of communicating via 13 simultaneous email threads, and she does emails
- Wanna have sporadic phone check-ins and she isn’t a phone person, or vice versa
- Need a full rebrand for your business, and she doesn’t offer that service
- Wanna be held accountable to write all your copy so you don’t put it off until you’re 80 (hey, I do that with my clients now!)
- Need someone who speaks lay(wo)man’s terms and will hold your hand instead of throwing jargon in your face like glitter that gets stuck in your eye (ow!)
- Wanna communicate frequently and your web designer has a slow response time
You get it.
Consider what you need and be sure you’re a sweet match before you commit. Get on the phone and talk, for Xena’s sake. Say yo, crack a joke, and see if you feel a pro crush coming on.
Communication & clear expectations
A.K.A. be painstaking about detailing your needs & her needs.
What exactly do you want on your website? Remember that web designers — as much as we’d be pumped to! — have not yet developed the ability to read minds. (If only world famous psychic John Edward had an online course!)
So if you need a “simple” site or want us to make something on the page “pop,” tell us what that means in as much detail as possible (because maybe a “simple” site actually entails complex programming that will take hours, or by “make it pop” you mean making it big and yellow instead of making it a pop-up, etc.).
Show us with examples; draw it on a page with pen and paper if you have to and scan it for us. Seriously. If there’s confusion (or to prevent confusion, as conveying visuals verbally can be a mindf*ck) and you have a specific idea in mind, sketch it out or put it together with a rad program and send it on over with a cuddly carrier pigeon. Your web designer will la-la-looove you for it!
Use a Pinterest board too. It’s a fun, devastatingly time-consuming, and wonderful lifesaver. Compile anything and everything that conjures the look & feel you wanna achieve — compile fonts, color schemes, pictures of puppies, quotes, whatever feels right (unless your designer is making the mood board for you… again, find out all the details!).
Granted, setting clear expectations is also on the designer; it’s her job to understand what you mean and ask you to clarify, but it’s a two-way street.
You need to be specific. You both do.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but it can be almost as if you were talking to a child with ADD who just ate a bag of Oreos. People have different communication styles and levels of understanding when it comes to technology and design.
Even across cultures, different assumptions can scramble your brain and cause drama. …My Swedish boyfriend and my Argentine self can attest to this. Many conflicts have been triggered because I thought or he thought something was “common sense,” when it was just that we were raised with diametrically opposed social rules, where black is purple and white is green. It’s insanely frustrating and eventually comical. But OMG every once in a while I think about throwing something at his beautiful Scandinavian face (HA, it’s mutual. I’m no picnic!).
So unless you know her super well or things are 1,297% uber-clear from the get-go — which is rare — pretend like your web designer is an 8-year-old and spell things out to be safe. I am not exaggerating.
An extra step to help ensure smooth sailin’ across the website Pacific is to get a solid contract in place.
Pro tip: if a web designer doesn’t give you a contract to sign, firmly ask for one. It’ll protect both of you.
Consider, for instance:
- When do you need to submit all your content?
- What happens if you take 4 weeks to deliver it all?
- What exactly is included in the project scope?
- When will the website building process begin?
- What happens if you need to stall the project?
Does she “get” you?
Personally, I don’t work with anyone whose work I don’t respect or admire. I’ve turned down potential clients because I had ethical qualms regarding their line of work. I need to believe in how my client is changing the world for the better, and I need to share her values.
Whether this is something you need of your web designer is up to you.
But I believe this is a big step toward having a rewarding and even loving professional relationship with your Website Superhero/genie/wizard/chef/ninja. And it’s non-negotiable for yours truly (otherwise, my cape doesn’t work and I fall flat on my face and scrape my knee and get cranky).
Hope these tips on how to hire a web designer you’ll be crazypants about help make your next web design adventure a fabulous one filled with waterfalls, gluten-free cupcakes, and walks on the beach, dear sister!
Need a Website Superhero you’ll love?
Let’s see if we’d be perfect partners!