If you understand the value of web design to your business but feel unsure about which qualities a web designer should have, you are not alone. The question, “What to look for in a web designer?” is a common one, but it can be difficult to answer.
The truth is, the process of choosing a web designer is becoming increasingly complex over the years. Aside from the fast-growing population of freelance web designers and web design agencies, the very discipline of web design is rapidly evolving due to changing user expectations and web design trends.
To make this process easier for business owners like you, we’re sharing with you this list of seven qualities that every professional web designer – the type of web designer you should choose – must possess. Use this as your checklist when you are talking to potential web designers so you can make the right decision and position your business for greater success.
1. Web design experience.
The factor that separates the pros from the beginners, experience in designing websites is one of the most important criteria you must consider when choosing a web designer. Of course, there are start-up web designers who understandably have a limited number of clients, and thus, have far less experience in the industry than agencies who have been around for 10 years or more. Start-ups definitely have their place in any industry, but keep in mind their level of experience and portfolio quality cannot compare to their more established counterparts.
Tip: For your peace of mind, we suggest you choose a web designer who has years of solid experience in designing websites, ideally for clients from different industries. It may also work to your advantage if your chosen web designer has previously designed a website for a client whose business or target market is similar to yours, as they may have acquired knowledge about how best to present your business to your audience from that experience.
2. Responsive design skills.
A responsive website is essential if you want to reach a wider audience and make a positive impression on your visitors. Mobile-friendly websites are great, but responsive websites take user experience to a whole new level. If you want to make sure all your web content will display properly across all screen sizes, choose a web designer who is well-versed in responsive design.
3. Knowledge of the latest SEO strategies.
Aside from knowing how to design responsive websites, any professional web designer must have a sound knowledge of the latest SEO strategies and how your website can best execute them. All the eye-catching copy and groundbreaking content on your website will be all for naught if your website doesn’t even have visitors, after all. Aside from making your website look and feel good for its end-users, your web designer must make it effective and visible with the help of SEO. Choosing a web designer who is proficient in SEO increases your chances of having a high-converting website that complements your digital marketing efforts.
4. Proven CMS skills.
A content management system (CMS) enables you to create, edit, organise and publish web content. Without a CMS, your website runs the risk of looking outdated, neglected and unprofessional. It may also result in more expenses for you, as you’d have to consult a web developer whenever you want to update your website. In other words, using a CMS will make it easier for you to manage your website without having to hire another expert in the long run.
Tip: If you are an e-commerce business, we suggest you consider web designers who know the ins and outs of e-commerce management systems such as WooCommerce and OpenCart. If you plan to incorporate blogs, news and sections in your website that require regular updating, we recommend choosing web designers who have experience using WordPress and Wix.
5. High-quality portfolio.
At the end of the day, the quality of a web designer’s portfolio is the only evidence you have of whether their work lives up to their claims. Feel free to scrutinise the past works of the web designers you are talking to. Don’t hesitate to ask them why they designed a particular website as such, and how their design impacted their client’s business growth.
A web designer’s portfolio shows tangible results of what they have done and what they are capable of doing for your website. It showcases how developed their web design knowledge and skills are, and thus, should be a major influencer of your decision regarding which designer to work with.
Tip: Never settle for images or screenshots of web designs – ask for the actual links so you can see how their designs look like in action. Spend some time visiting these sites so you can get a feel of their design principles and standards. Lastly, run away from individuals or agencies claiming to be professional web designers but have no portfolio to show for it.
6. Sensible pricing.
We understand your budget is one of the biggest considerations you have when it comes to choosing a web designer (or any outsourced professional, for that matter). However, it will do you well if you remember that in business, the saying “you get what you pay for” has a high accuracy rate. Established web designers with high-level knowledge and skills offer more value to your business than a fresh graduate, which is why they charge more for their services.
Your website will be the first point of contact of many customers with your business, so it is critical that it leaves them with a positive impression, which a more experienced and usually more expensive web designer can provide. That said, steer clear of beginner-level web designers who are charging exorbitant prices for their service, and also those who offer unbelievably low rates. You may think you found a bargain until you see how your website looks like after they have finished designing it!
Tip: Carefully review and compare different contracts from different web designers so you get an idea of how much your web design project will cost. Make sure you understand everything in the contract prior to signing it (having a lawyer review it beforehand can save you from headaches later on should things take a turn for the worse), including how many mockups you should expect and in which format, how long should the project take, how much will they charge for additional revisions on top of the final output, license fees for images, audio files or videos, and any service/maintenance fees.
7. Client support.
Your website is a living entity that should grow and evolve together with your business. If you are an e-commerce business owner, you need a dynamic website that would require regular updates and quite possibly, upgrades. That means it will be better for you if you choose a web designer who can be easily reached should you need assistance for your future web enhancements. After all, it is possible that one year or three years from now, you may want to declutter your homepage or change the colours of your call-to-action buttons. Either way, it is best to work with a web designer who values client relationships and delivers excellent after-sales support.
Tip: Choosing an established, locally-based web designer may give you easier access for your future web design needs.
One step closer to the right web designer
We hope this list will help you when you are scouting for web designers for your business. Your web designer will have a major influence on how your website looks and performs so choose wisely. Make sure your designer has these seven qualities so your website will look good, perform even better, and make you and your visitors happier.