How to Select a Web site designer

I was talking to a potential client yesterday. After discussing the details of the project, the client described his process for selecting a vendor for his project. It became clear to me that his process wasn’t ideal, and would likely end in hurt feelings, an unhappy client and even a possible lawsuit. All that because there was a serious flaw in his selection process.

The process of selecting a Web site developer is one of the keys to a successful project. Here are some tips successful clients use in choosing a Web site designer:

1. Know what you want: The first step to selecting a Web site developer is knowing what type of work you need done. Many clients call us asking for help with a Web site, but don’t know what they are looking for. Do you need help writing copy? Do you need a shopping cart? Do you need a logo? It is often helpful to write down what you want and share it with folks who are bidding on the project.

2. Know your budget: Your budget will dictate the type of developer you can afford. A low budget might mean you’ll need to use a college student who is just getting started. A higher budget might open up higher quality options, such a Web site development professionals and firms. Check out our full article on how to price Web site development projects.

3. Interview: When talking to different Web site developers, determine whether the developer understands what you want. If you are asking for one thing, but the Web site designer is talking about something different, consider that a sign of how the project will proceed. It is our job as Web site developers to offer good advice, but ultimately it is your project, not ours.  Does their proposal match what you are looking for? Do you get the impression that the firm or individual understands what you want? Just like in a job interview, it is helpful for both the potential client and the developer to ask questions and to make the conversation more of a dialog.

4. Portfolio & References: Like in most other creative fields, a Web site designer’s portfolio should speak volumes about their talents. But don’t just look for pretty sites or sites that match your style — look to see if the Web site designer did what their client needed. For example, let’s say you are looking to create a Web site for non-technical people — one that is simple and lacks technical jargon. You visit a Web site developer’s portfolio and see a technical Web site full of acronyms and design elements aimed at technical people. At first, you may say that’s not what I want, but if you put yourself in the technical Web site owner’s shoes, you’ll realize did exactly what that client needed. You should feel more confidant that the Web site developer will do what you need too. Don’t forget to ask for and call references. Don’t just ask the reference whether they would recommend them though — ask them about the process, timeline and what they didn’t like about the process.

Following these steps will help your Web site development project be completed successfully. Those are our thoughts, we welcome your ideas below.