When I’m doing the Build part of my work with clients – where we roll out the marketing plan that we’ve designed during the Design stage – there’s usually a requirement to work on the client’s website.
Sometimes this involves me learning how to use whatever platform the site is built on and making small edits to the text and layout to improve the messaging of the site. Sometimes it means working with an incumbent web designer to make tweaks because the way the content is presented isn’t working for the audience. On occasion – though I try not to do this if it can be avoided – it means appointing a new web designer and managing a rebuild of the site from scratch.
I keep a list of preferred web designers that I like to recommend, but from time to time, because of the scope of the project, or the nature of the client’s business I need to find a new designer. Here’s my top 6 criteria for hiring a new web designer…
- The ability to understand your business.
A decent designer will ask you questions about your business. How you operate, who your dream client is, how your marketing works, which products you sell, etc, etc. They need to know this to put a site together that moves people through your customer journey from stranger to raving fan. If they don’t ask in detail about your business, don’t go there.
- A good understanding of SEO.
For some (not all) businesses, investing in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a high priority. Businesses such as a local florist that people tend to search for on line should never be without this in their marketing plan. For, others, it’s a ‘good to have’. Not all web designers offer SEO services, and that’s fine. But, the very minimum they should be doing is installing the correct metatags and headings as they build the site. If they don’t mention SEO, walk away.
- They can design in different styles.
Take a good look through the portfolio of your shortlisted designers. Can they build sites in lots of different styles? You don’t want your site to go through a factory process where the outputs all look roughly the same. The designer needs to have a tailored approach just for you. If the sites in his or her portfolio all tend to use the same WordPress theme, or have the same layout, keep looking.
- An acceptance of an iterative process
This one is just SO important to me. When I’m working on a site, I’m not going to know everything I want it to do from the beginning. And, I’m not going to know which images I want in which spaces during the scoping stage. I might want to move them around several times before the layout looks right. I need to work with a web designer who can cope with my iterative approach. If their idea of the process is to: present a visual, have it signed off, deliver the full site, make one set of amends, then sign off the full site, just forget it. Real projects never go like that and you’ll feel bad asking for lots of changes.
- Someone who suggests a long-term plan for managing your site.
Sometimes I meet business owners who have been abandoned by their web designer. They’ve produced a lovely site and then left them with no idea on how to update it to, for example, add new testimonials or members of staff. This is not good. Your designer needs to provide a proper handover, where they show you how to ‘drive’ the back end of the site, and make changes when you need to. They should also suggest a plan for managing the site in the future – a small monthly fee to allow for updating the software, backing up the site and making small changes is ideal. If they don’t suggest this, get your coat.
- An understanding of how to get the back-end apps to play together nicely.
If you want a site that underpins your marketing system and is more than just an online brochure you are going to need to integrate it with other services such as Mailchimp or Leadpages. Your site developer needs to have an excellent understanding of how to get these apps to play together nicely or they won’t be able to do that for you. Ask them to show you examples of where they’ve done this before, and if they can’t, make a run for it.
If you’d rather stick pins in your eyes than manage the rebuild of your site, but you know it needs doing, get in touch. I’d love to find you a good designer and project manage the process for you.