Trying to find the best web designer for your project can be a stressful experience for some. But with our guidance and a few tips on what to look for, you can have a smooth and stress-free search. As a digital brand experience firm with clients across the US, we meet and speak to potential clients on a daily basis. One thing that has stood out from many of our conversations is that companies that are starting a web design project often don’t know what to look for in a web designer.
While our team always makes sure to address the important questions and topics, not all web designers or agencies will do so. That is why we’ve put together these helpful tips highlighting the significant (yet often overlooked) aspects to consider before you begin, in order to choose the best web designer, or team, for your project.
Tip #1: Know what challenge you want to solve with your website
It is very important that you have a clear understanding of what your goals are, and what challenge(s) you want to solve with your website. You should spend some time putting together a list of your pain-points so that the designer or design team you choose to work with understands what the challenge is that they need to solve.
Tip #2: Decide if you need to update your brand strategy
Finding the best web designer to bring your vision to life truly starts by looking within. A website is a layer of your brand strategy, and should help support a clear, consistent brand experience. If you are updating your website, the design should build off of your brand identity, messaging and strategy in general. Your brand is much more than just a logo, it isn’t a concrete physical object. It’s the relationship between your company and your consumers/audience. Your brand identity is how your brand comes alive. It’s all of the different touch-points (digital and offline) that your customers come in contact with, such as: your logo, business cards, email signatures, websites, mobile app, ads, social media profiles, office design, package design and so on. We always ask potential clients if they are considering any type of update or work on these areas, because it only makes sense to do that work first, before updating the website design (aka “Don’t put the cart before the horse”).
Tip #3: Compare your needs to freelancer, boutique firm & agency services
We’ve addressed that you need to make a list of your project objectives, but you also want to consider any on-going needs you know of, or think you’ll need for the website and marketing support. There are significant differences in service and support between the three. Defining your needs will make it easier to discuss these services with a prospective freelancer, boutique firm or agency so you can choose which option is right for you.
Tip #4: Compile a list with impressive portfolios
Instead of looking for a web designer with industry-specific portfolio pieces, look for a portfolio with a wide range of projects. This shows that they have a healthy creative philosophy, and do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to their design process. You’ll also be able to separate the novices from the “big dogs” by paying close attention to whether or not they’re using basic cookie-cutter templates, or custom responsive web design.
Tip #5: The best web designer for you may not be local
One common misconception is that you must work with a designer who is local. We can’t stress this one enough, it is absolutely not necessary to confine your search to a local designer or agency. Any savvy design team will have a system of long-distance communication in place. Designers and developers are used to discussing projects with each other over the phone and online through collaboration programs and software, so it’s just as effective to discuss your project in the same manner.
The web design and development process can get very technical and overwhelming. No matter the scope of the project, you want to choose a web designer who can articulate the process thoroughly, yet in a way that you understand. There is nothing worse than working with someone who is unable to explain the process to you in a way that you can understand it. You may choose a local designer who is awful at consistent communication, while a designer located a few states away works hard at staying on top of communicating with you about your project. Bottom line, don’t limit yourself –– it’s important that you feel you can communicate with your designer, because that is going to be the glue before, during and after the launch of your new site.
Tip #6: Determine your cost vs. value
Alright, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Cost is an important aspect of your project. As with anything you purchase, the saying “you get what you pay for” definitely holds true when building a new website. Whether the goal of your site is simply brand awareness, or to generate leads, in the end it is about supporting and helping your business succeed in its goals. If you begin to cut costs solely for saving money now, you may not earn as much long-term value when it comes to delivering the results you imagined.
So how do you justify the costs of your website project? It’s simple, really. Ask your prospective designers if they can provide examples of the value delivered through real results. Remember in the end, it’s not about cost –– it’s about value (or at least it should be). If they can design a website that yields a return-on-investment, then cost isn’t a deal breaker. Don’t let sticker shock derail you from your overall project goals.
Are you looking for the best web designer to help you bring your vision to life? We are a digital brand experience firm that specializes in brand strategy across all digital touch-points. We’d be happy to to talk to you to see if we’re a good fit for your company’s needs.