How to Choose a Web Designer for Your Business

How to Choose a Web Designer for Your Business
  • Don’t hire the cheapest web designer, ensure they understand SEO and can use mainstream technologies.
  • It’s better to hire local web designers and you should always verify their portfolio and claims.
  • Web design services can start from $500 and go all the way to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Read on to find out the average costs for web design services, tips on finding a designer, red flags and how to create a brief.

As people become more technology savvy, and “build your own website” services become more powerful, it’s tempting for small business owners to create their own online platforms and websites to save costs.

On the flip side, consumers are also more educated in the digital space, which means a website that is difficult to navigate or boring design is unlikely to have any positive impact on your business and may leave a bad impression. As with all things technical and specialised, it’s just better to hire a professional web designer and developer for your business website.

I’ve put together my leading tips to navigate the web design space, so you’re able to find and hire a web designer that suits you at a cost that fits your budget.

How to Choose the Right Web Designer

Follow these five tips to choose the best web designer for your small business:

  1. Ensure that your soon-to-be designer has an up-to-date portfolio
  2. Hire local web designers
  3. Don’t hire the cheapest option
  4. Check that your soon-to-be designer understands SEO
  5. Make sure your designer uses mainstream web design technology

1. Ensure that your soon-to-be designer has an up-to-date portfolio

Make sure that the websites and apps in their portfolio are live, current and functioning well. This is one of the best ways to verify that your web designer is the real deal.

2. Hire local web designers

It is important that you develop a good working relationship with your web designer. Having someone you can meet with in person on a regular basis is going to help deliver a better outcome. No written brief can ever compare to explaining to your designer what you want exactly. Not to mention you get to feel good about contributing to your local economy.

3. Don’t hire the cheapest option

As with all things, the cheapest option is never the best one. The cheapest option won’t be the one that delivers the awe-inspiring web design you’re hoping to achieve. Cheap often means cutting corners to reduce costs, which will be glaringly obvious in the result.

4. Check that your soon-to-be designer understands SEO

It’s important that a web designer has a good understanding of search engine optimisation. It doesn’t matter if you have a flashy and pretty website if it doesn’t rank in Google.

5. Make sure your designer uses mainstream web design technology

There’s nothing more frustrating for a client than having a website that nobody but the original developer can work on, but it happens very often. By ensuring that mainstream content management systems (CMS) are used, you give yourself peace of mind knowing that there are many other web designers out there capable of working on your website should you change designers or need to hire more. Mainstream CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, Shopify, Neto and Magento are good indicators of reliability.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Web Designer?

We have built websites that range from $500 all the way up to $250,000. A website only costs for how long it takes to build. The more unique functionality required in your website, the more it will cost. Nonetheless, there are a few tiers of web designers in terms of how much they charge you per hour.

When you are building a basic website, you don’t need someone to create high-level systems and bureaucracy that comes with a heightened price tag. A good local freelancer who specialises in basic WordPress or Shopify websites will usually charge between AUD$50-100 an hour depending on how strong their portfolio is.

A very basic website shouldn’t take any more than 10-20 hours to build depending on how much grief you give them feedback. Understand that if you are asking for a fixed quote, then you can’t give unlimited feedback for them to keep revising, so make sure that you give highly detailed feedback and if you are the type of person who wants to be meticulous with every pixel, expect and offer to pay for variations.

If you are looking for something with more style, or special features, you’ll need to hire a local creative agency such as Digital8. They will invariably have a higher hourly rate, but you get the peace of mind knowing that there is more than one person involved, they will have systems and processes in place to manage the job, and you will be engaging a business with insurance as well as a business reputation to uphold.

A local creative agency in Brisbane will usually charge between AUD$150 to $250 an hour depending on which of their team members they need to deploy and how in-demand they are. Highly sought-after digital agencies or agencies that specialise in esoteric technologies such as ecommerce or enterprise-level products will charge higher than this range.

If you are a high level corporate, however, you will have significant requirements in terms of security, systems delivery and general adherence to process. There are large consulting firms that deliver web projects as part of their broader portfolio.

Big accounting firms, as well as specialised marketing, advertising and business analysis companies such as PWC, Deloitte, BBDO, Ogilvy etc. will build simple and complex websites for their clients but rarely, if ever, will they take on projects for companies that aren’t clients of their core business.

In some cases, these companies will outsource some or all their projects to local creative agencies. You can expect to pay big money for the privilege of using these international companies, even though a lot of the work is outsourced, at an upwards of $400 an hour.

Red Flags to Look Out for When Choosing a Web Designer 

Sometimes it can be difficult to cut through an agency that sells themselves well. Never forget to look at the proof to back it up. A few red flags you should look out for when meeting with a contractor or agency…

  • No portfolio, or a portfolio that features companies that don’t exist or are no longer live online
  • Extremely cheap – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • No content management system, or the content management system is unusual with hard to find information.

How to Brief your Web Designer

A good web designer will have a reverse brief. This is a document containing a list of questions that the designer asks each of their clients to assist in gathering crucial information. You and your designer should also have a detailed meeting at the start of the project. We call this a kick-off meeting. I know, extremely original! If you get neither of these things, you might need to reconsider your choice.

When it comes to websites where style is the most important consideration, one of the more significant bits of advice I can give is to trust your web designer. If you’ve done your homework and you are dealing with someone who other people have gotten good results from, it’s fair to say they are going to have a better understanding of what works than you do.

Aside from technical requirements in your project, it’s best to keep your brief light and let the designer be creative. I recommend sharing examples of competitor websites that you love, and maybe some non-competitor samples if your competitors don’t have good ones.

Remember to mention any technical considerations or detailed business goals – sharing these with your designer from the start will ensure your site supports any key messaging that’s important to you and your business. This could be things like sales targets, customer registration, traffic goals, software signups or perhaps even file downloads, views or shares.

Ultimately the best way to do briefing is the same way that your trusted web designer asks you to brief.

The Benefits of Hiring Web Designers

Businesses without websites are missing out on the online marketing revolution. If you don’t have a website and someone searches for your service in Google (say web design?), they will be going to a competitor for their delivery. The same can be said for having a bad website.

While there may be a rise in the amount of DIY website builders such as Wix, Weebly and even Go Daddy, they’re probably not going to work for most people. Small businesses generally don’t have the human resources that possess the necessary design skills to make a website look great. This is generally what you’re paying for with a web designer.

Sure, there are good Wix websites out there, but they are very rarely ones that feature anything beyond your absolute most basic website requirements. Once you go past the point of needing just a few pages and a contact form, these platforms fail to stand up against more professional level options.

A good web designer should also be setting you up with the correct SEO tools required to position your website in a prime location in Google searches. They should be able to provide you with analytics and breakdown on how your website performs. If you’re not quite sure about SEO and the details that surround this, get your designer to educate you so the tools they are putting in place are put to good use.

By hiring a web designer, you can get something beyond a basic website. You will also get someone with experience and, presumably, quality education in design principles, and who understands what people like when it comes to user experience in a more deep and psychological way than the average person does. You also get to spend more time doing whatever it is you’re good at, instead of fiddling around with a website that won’t get you the best results for your business.

Joe McCord

General Manager at Digital8 Holding Co Pty Ltd

Joe with one coffee is a dynamic, cheerful creative thinker with an innate ability to quickly identify growth hack opportunities and design deployment solutions. Joe with two coffees is like the guy from Limitless.

Comments (1)
Steven Dixon

Steven Dixon

These are really good tips, and most importantly in practice they are very effective. A couple of times I changed the web designer, but after these tips I will have a different approach to this issue.