How To Hire a Web Designer and Live Happily Ever After

How to hire a web designer

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the web design project from hell. And I’ve personally been on both sides of this tragic occurrence.

You have a great vision for your new website, you hire a web designer, and usually things start off well, but soon things devolve and both sides are feeling frustrated and you just want to pull your hair out.

Two totally wonderful people have been reduced to lobbing insults over email, or completely avoiding each other. Resentment, anger, and complaining to your next web designer usually follows.

What went wrong? And more importantly, how can your next web project go smoothly so that both you and your designer can live happily ever after?

How To Hire a Web Designer So Your Next Web Project Goes Smoothly

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1. Setting Expectations and Misunderstanding Technical Difficulty Levels

In my experience, things start to fall apart quickly because there is a mismatch of expectations and miscommunication when it comes to technical things involved with web design.

During the initial intake conversation, you might say you’re looking for a really simple website. The web designer has an idea of what that means to them, but if you want 3 different functions that require hours of custom programming, even if these appear to be simple on the surface, they’re going to require more work than your web designer originally budgeted for.

Solution: be really clear about the functionality you’re looking for, and be open to feedback from your web designer on whether it’s realistic within your budget.

2. Timing and Managing Many Clients At Once

Most web designers work with multiple clients at one time, depending on their fees, to make ends meet. That means that at any one time, you might be getting their divided attention and that can slow down communication and responsiveness.

It also means that when you have an agreed upon timeline where you’re expected to contribute things like written content for your website, photos, and feedback, you need to be prompt or you’ll risk your project going over time and running into other clients’ allotted time.

This slows down the process even further, and gives web designers a massive headache. So the best thing you can do is stay on track with deadlines, and understand why things take time no matter how simple your changes might seem.

3. Estimating Costs and Scope Creep

Most web designers charge for projects based on an estimate, and if you change your mind or want to add more functionality than you originally spoke about, it can cause stress for both the timeline and the web designer’s bottom line too.

Some web designers work with a team and end up paying out more to their contractors than your project brought in. That can cause any sane person to be a little cranky.

So the solution is for web designers to stand their ground on your agreed upon project scope and also for you to recognize when you’re stepping outside of the scope.

The best way to handle changing priorities to new features is to ask for a Phase 2 project quote and to schedule that separately from the first round.

4. Communication and Explaining Visual Aesthetics

You might have a really clear vision in your head of what your website looks like, and your web designer might be able to translate that perfectly onto the screen… or they might have their own vision entirely.

Communicating about visuals using words can be difficult, so anything you can do to provide a shortcut is helpful. Think about creating a pinterest board with fonts, colors, and brands that inspire you.

Another tip to help you communicate clearly with your web designer is to create mock ups or wireframes of the site. That way you can explain where everything should go, and you can also detail the functionality you’d expect.

For example, you might have a button and a note that says “when someone clicks this button, it takes them to page B” or if you wanted different functionality “when someone clicks this button, they stay on the page but a small popup window opens with more options”.

You can make these wireframes yourself using plain black lines on printed paper and scanning them, or using simple software that you already have on your computer like Powerpoint or Keynote. You could also use Canva or these other online graphic editing tools.

And please, do not reference your favorite website as the entire inspiration for your own site… instead pick one or two specific features that you want on your site, and add your own flair.

It can take a few iterations to arrive at the perfect visual style, so be kind and understanding when offering feedback.

5. Changing Technologies, Mobile, and SEO

Once the website is built, there are a few other things you might be concerned about. From maintaining your own website after you work with a designer, to making sure it’s search engine optimized.

These are things that your web designer might not be on board to do, so get clear on that before you get started. You’ll also want to talk about your mobile website strategy before you get started and design with mobile in mind first.

Not all web designers are used to designing for the mobile web but they might be able to partner with someone to implement that for you.

I highly recommend getting comfortable with the technologies your site will be built on so you can update and maintain your site without being dependent on your web designer or feeling like a victim of your own site.

How Have You Made Working a Designer An amazing Experience?

Now, I don’t want to hear your web design horror stories. Instead, I want to focus on the positive. When have you had amazing web design projects and what did you do to keep things on track and happy for everyone involved?

Leave a comment below!

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I’m the founder of a tech startup called AccessAlly, a powerful course and membership platform for coaching industry leaders.

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