This may seem a bit self-serving, but I promise you, the things I am sharing in this post are universal no matter whether you are hiring a new freelance designer, or an experienced web development company. They also reflect my own mistakes in the past as a designer as well as the many grievances which my clients have expressed about their experiences with web designers.
Poor Project Schedule and Follow-through
The single biggest complaint I hear from clients about web design people and companies is project schedule and follow-through. For some reason, there are apparently a large number of web design professionals who fail miserably at managing project schedules. Nearly every client that has had a website done in the past tells me how long their project took to complete, and how little the designer communicated with them.
How do you avoid this scheduling nightmare?
1. Ask them for references from their former clients. Can they at least get someone to tell you they managed their project well?
2. After you give them the details of your project, ask them for a timeline to complete the project.
(2 weeks, 8 weeks, 1 year?)If they can’t give you at least a quick estimation up front, they may not have much experience with getting projects completed. Tell them you would like deadlines with dates for different stages of the project. You should also have a launch / completion date before you start. (You should expect them to stick to it too!)
3. Understand your own responsibilities in the project. Are they reasonable expectations?
I have had clients promise me images, text, or other content for the site, but they are too busy to get me what I need. Their project gets delayed, but my hands were tied. Make sure your designer lays out what he/she needs from you.
The Website Is Not What I Wanted!
I have also had people tell me that their web designer “created a site for them” not with them.
Even if a web developer creates a site that looks good, it is virtually worthless if it does not communicate what makes the product or service your company offers valuable. As my marketing friend Wade at Inspire Marketing is always reminding me, a pretty website does nothing if it does not communicate “what you do, and who you are for” clearly and quickly.
How do you get a website that YOU want?
1. Ask your designer how they plan to develop your content.
Are they going to interview you and get to know your business? Is there any kind of marketing message strategy that will seek to set you apart from your competition. These things are vital!
2. Do you get any design input, or are they going to design for you?
Many designers will not seek your input and just give you a design. Make sure whoever you hire plans to take some direction from you. Don’t misunderstand me, you want them to create the design, that is their talent. However, there is more than one graphically correct way to design a site, and it should most certainly reflect your taste. You need to really like the design, because you need to be confident when you share it with people.
3. Make sure your designer plans to give you multiple design options.
Most will offer you 2-3 designs to choose from, others will do more. More is not necessarily better. 6-8 design options can be overwhelming and waste a lot of your time making a decision. Plus, you may want your designer to have your selections narrowed down to their best 2-3 as they are the ones with experience in this area. Regardless, you should have options.
There are many other things to consider when hiring someone to create a website for you. These are just a few that can get you started in the right direction.