Blog: Tutorials, Tips & Tools

How to choose and hire a good web designer

This article is a first one we write for the clients. Until now our blog was only publishing educational materials for web designers & developers. But why discriminate? :)

So, you have a digital project in mind. You go to Google, dial “web designer” and get….roughly 226,000,000 results. That was helpful and not discouraging at all, wasn’t it! :). How would one sort through all these??? First of all, let’s narrow your search down. There are several criteria to consider. Let’s dive in.

Web design company or a freelancer?

Look for a freelancer if:

  • Your project is small to medium.
  • Your project doesn’t require varied skill set. E.g. you need a logo. Or a site without much programming involved. Or an illustration.
  • Project specifications are not likely to change mid-way.
  • You have small budget, or tiny budget, or no budget :) . Actually the latter is not a joke. Beginner web designer will trade his/her services for the chance to have a real live project to add to the portfolio. This is not an uncommon practice. Just beware of the quality you will be getting. “One buck you pay, for one buck you eat”.
  • Legal issues are of little importance to you. E.g. you are not expecting to submit invoices for your project for tax deduction. Not all freelancers can issue legal invoices that are – well – actually legal.

Look for a company if:

  • Your project is medium size and above.
  • Your project requires various skills & techniques. E.g. you need a complex user interface for large software project. Or you need a responsive website in several languages with event booking platform. Etc.
  • You have a budget that allows to aim for the quality, rather than just have something done fast and cheap.
  • You need legal forms – contract and invoices – to be in order.

Reducing costs. Outsourcing or close to home?

If you feel good only in case you can physically see people that will make your digital project a reality, then you should be looking for them close to home. Just add location to your Google search and you are all set!

If you have researched prices for web design and development in your own city or country and got discouraged, outsourcing is the way to go :) .

But where to outsource to? India and Bangladesh used to be a hype and top outsourcing destinations 10-5 years ago. Unfortunately, there’s a certain business culture – or lack of thereof – that made those partnerships fail in most cases. There ARE great Indian web development companies! There’s no doubt about it. But the problem is – they are so many, that choosing became a game of chance. Outsource to East Asia only if you have a solid lead from some one who “knows a guy, and he is awesome”.

The other destination, that exploded in the last years is Eastern Europe, and post soviet space in general: Bulgaria, Romania, Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland – all have very strong IT traditions in our days. Just to give you some buzz words. Skype had and has main development base in Estonia. Romania is the motherland of BitDefender.

Eastern Europe, especially EU states, are not as cheap as East Asia. But considering that you most probably will not waste your money on failed attempts at finding a sane developer, you will definitely gain from going in this direction. You can expect prices ranging from 15 to 70 EUR per hour.

Choosing the right candidate.

Let’s say, by now you’ve made your mind to go for: a. company, b. outsourcing. Add short description of your project and ask Google again. E.g.: “web design company romania responsive website”. See, there’s us on the first places in SERP :). Still, there are a lot of results. Open a bunch of sites and see if:

  • The company site looks professional and is fully functional.
  • Does the company have necessary skills? This info is usually located in section Services or About Us.
  • Do you like company’s site design?
  • Most important stop: the portfolio. Look for:
    • Projects that are similar to yours from technical point of view. It doesn’t matter if the company made sites about fishing rods before. But it DOES matter if they were involved in making responsive sites (if this is what you need).
    • Live projects. If portfolio consists ONLY of screenshots and gives no links to live web projects, then this company should be eliminated from your search.
    • Testimonials.

After you have narrowed your search, contact remaining candidates for “meet and greet”, be it by email only :).

Meet & greet.

Speed of reaction.

If it took a week for a company to reply to your initial email, than that is a good measure of the speed they will work with. Delete! :)

Prices.

Ask companies you choose to evaluate your project and submit a rough cost estimate. Almost any company will do the first estimation for free. Good estimation will also contain an explanation of where the costs come from, and even solutions that will help you reduce project price. Many companies/freelancers have a ready made questionnaire that will help both them and you to understand better what needs to be done for the project.

The rule of price-quality balance works in digital field just as it works in all other areas: the cheaper the product or service is, the lower its quality will be. Try to stay away from offers that are substantially lower than all other offers. Low offers would come from people who either didn’t understand what they need to do (i.e. are bad IT specialists), or from people who don’t value their time and effort. The latter kind will almost certainly disappear after a week or two on pretext that their mother is in a hospital. We don’t know why, but this is a buzz phrase of people who don’t give a crap about their profession:)

Design proposals.

Clients sometimes ask companies to submit a design proposal based on project brief. And then choose the prettiest screen. This is a controversial point. First of all, less and less digital agencies agree to make design proposals for free. Ones who do agree usually try hard to win you over. But beware that in many cases you will get a quickly dusted off existing template that some other company didn’t buy. We would say that working for free is never a good sign. A paid small test assignment, on the other hand, is a great solution.

Ongoing support.

It goes without saying that companies/freelancers that offer ongoing technical support are the ones to choose.

To summarize – just hire Prowebdesign. We could have said it out front just as well. But we didn’t, because we’re modest! :)