I’ve already discussed why you should hire a web designer/developer (our knowhow, basically) but what about how to hire the right web designer/developer for you?
There are plenty of factors to consider from both your end (as the excellent client you are — right? Right??) and your future collaborative partner’s (a.k.a. your Website Superhero) to help ensure that your end result not only makes you + your biz look head-turnin’ gooooooood, but also that you have a positive experience working together (I personally get so attached and invested that I’d love to take most of my clients out for happy hour if we were in the same city!).
So let’s break it down.
How to hire the right web designer/developer
1. Assess their expertise
Let’s assume this web designer/developer has (a) a website, and (b) a portfolio on said website (if they don’t, you probably shouldn’t hire them!).
Now, assess their portfolio:
- Can you spot some impressive pieces on it, or does looking at it make your shake your head “no”?
- Have they created several great websites already or only a few?
- Are there plenty of web design samples or is this person showcasing mostly print design?
- Are their websites responsive (meaning they look rad on small screens too)?
- Have they already made websites in your niche? This isn’t always important, especially if you’re pretty set on what you need already, but it can be if you’re seeking strong strategic guidance.
Additionally, what are they experts at? Is it graphic design, web design, web development, or a combination of these? The vast majority of us in the tech world have our specialties — we are specialists rather than do-it-alls a.k.a. unicorns (those mythical beings who kick ass at everything and usually don’t exist).
So consider whether you’re hiring a mini-agency (like you do when hiring Website Superhero) or whether you want to hire a graphic designer first and then a web developer, and how that can work (will they talk to each other?).
Pro tip: strategy drives design (so it comes first) and many designers are amazing at print but don’t know how to translate that intelligently to the web, so make sure you’ve got the right people in place.
2. Stalk them a little (or a lot)
Does this tech ninja sound kind of amazing — like she may be the Website Superhero for you — or… meh? You’re probably gonna spend a few months with her talking website + biz goals and a million other things, so follow your gut here. Do you think she’ll “get” you and your business? Clicking is paramount (more on that in point #4!).
3. Find out how they work
Ideally, you can find information on their process right on their services and FAQ pages not just on available website packages but also on what the steps are between the moment you book the first call or fill out an application form, and when you get the approved website delivered to you.
Are they available for Skype calls or only email? How will you be communicating throughout the project and how often? If you need handholding, will they give that to you? Will you be signing a solid contract that will protect both of your interests?
Reach out and ask all the questions you need to — this will help both of you figure out if you’d be a stellar fit or not.
4. Get on the phone
Listen, I know a lot of people hate getting on the phone (including many people in tech) but how are you supposed to get a real feel for each other if you don’t at least hear each other’s voices? I definitely need to, because it’s not just you screening your web designer/developer — it goes both ways. This is a partnership we’re talkin’ about.
We both need to feel pumped about working with each other. And in this increasingly digital world, we gotta keep it human.
Wouldn’t you prefer a strong connection with the person who’s going to bring your vision to life?
So connect in real time: how do you feel hearing her voice? Does she sound legitimately pumped to work with you? Is she interested in your tech struggles and offering suggestions to bridge the gap and get you the help that’ll thrust your business forward further? Does she help you feel excited about your website?
And very importantly: Does she help you feel like you can ask her anything, like no tech question is dumb-as-rocks? Because you will have 9,875 questions as the project progresses. Be sure you feel comfy enough to ask for clarification without feeling like you need to apologize or hide under the bed.
5. Realize that it takes time + money to do good work
Providing solid strategy, knowing enough to recommend the right software for your specific needs, creating something custom that works for your niche + audience, and following best practices are things that require expertise, time, effort, and fair compensation. That’s just the way it is. Anyone promising you the moon + stars for peanuts in a few days’ time is simply full of shit.
I’m not saying you need to take out a loan for your website, but somebody who charges very little is doing so most likely because they’re just not very good yet and they need to build up their portfolio, and a quick turnaround tends to mean you’ll be getting a template instead of custom work. You might get very lucky, but typically, if the price is cheap, the design will be generic and the development cheap, which means time + money = wasted (and possibly a hacked website later).
Of course, this is how I see it. I spend a considerable chunk of my existence working, so I take it personally and want to enjoy the relationships I have with my clients. This stuff matters to me. And, if you’re reading this, I bet it matters to you, too.