Finding a Web Designer

Last week I met with a client who brought her husband along. As we were discussing the new website we’re planning for my client, he expressed some dissatisfaction with his own website.

He went with a national company that mass-produces websites, among other things. He got a “free” web design, a rudimentary template into which he has to upload his own content, and a complex arrangement in which he’s at the top of the company’s directory until he gets a certain number of clicks, at which point he gets thrown off the top. He pays $150 a month for this.

It’s never comme il faut to diss a client’s previous web people, but this guy isn’t a client. He’s a client’s husband. That’s different. So, after analyzing what he’ll have paid and what he’ll have gotten at the end of a year’s contract with his web people, and comparing it with what he could have paid and received with a custom website, I asked him what had possessed him to sign that contract.

“They called me,” he said. He knew he needed a website, and like many small business owners, he had no more idea where to find a web designer than where to find a hit man. The term “web designer” wasn’t in his vocabulary, the people who made his business cards couldn’t help, and looking up “computer guy” in the phone book wasn’t working. Under those circumstances, a person can feel helpless enough to sign the first contract that comes his way.

Here are some other options:

  • Search online for “web designer” or “web design.” You can add your local area to the search string if you want somone local. Look at the portfolios of the candidates. You could look at your Facebook friends and Twitter followers first; you might have some other method of deciding who might be trustworthy and pleasant to work with. But look at the portfolios, and ask someone who knows to check out their code for you, too. Go to the websites and make sure they work properly. Click through them and see that they’re functional.
  • Contact your local university or design school. This can be a good way to find someone with skills but less experience. If you can provide guidance with content and navigation, you can end up with an excellent artist at an economical price. New graduates or advanced students are likely to be technically up to date, which is a plus, but won’t necessarily be knowledgeable about SEO or copywriting.
  • Look at freelance marketplaces. I hire people through oDesk sometimes, myself, and have worked with excellent designers there. Crowdspring is a source for graphic artists at which you can see and choose from designs. Freelance Designers has portfolios for large numbers of designers, along with their contact information. With any of these options, expect to spend time narrowing your choices to a manageable number. Again, this can be an economical choice, if you’re willing to spend some time and prepared to offer guidance.
  • Ask around. Experiments have been done to test the idea that we are all just six handshakes away from everyone else in the world, and it’s largely true. Tweet your need for a designer, mention it at LinkedIn, say something at the Chamber of Commerce, and you may find that you’ll have plenty of choices.

These methods are likely to turn up a designer for you. Use the candidates’ portfolios and a clear contract to increase your chances of success. And skim through our earlier posts on web design to get some idea of the factors you might want to consider, just so you won’t feel as though you’re at anyone’s mercy.

Obviously, you can just hire us. Call 479.966.9761 and talk with Julianne and we’ll fix you up.







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