Choosing a Website Designer – What to Look out For
If you’re going to pay good money for a website then you really want to be sure that your web designer knows what they are doing.
You may be surprised to learn that many web developers out there don’t have a background in design or coding and either use pre-packaged website templates or farm out the design and coding work to developers based in India.
Over the years I have been asked to fix many dodgy websites. In some cases people have paid good money, say $4,000.00(AUD) for a website that is really quite awful.
In another case I know of a business that paid $7,000.00(AUD) to a web developer to rebuild their website. Their original website was doing quite well. It was getting a lot of traffic and was generating a lot of business. It turns out that the new web developer farmed out the work to developers based in India and a tiny bit of code was wrong in the new site which was telling search engines not to index the site. Over months and months the business slowly declined and had no idea why. They effectively paid $7k to remove their business from Google.
Web Design Is an Un-regulated Industry
If you’re going to build a house, at least in Australia there are many building regulations that builders have to adhere to. When it comes to web design and website development however it’s pretty much anything goes. Sadly I think that many less scrupulous web developers take advantage of the fact that the average person knows very little about what is involved in building a genuine top quality website.
What Questions to Ask, and What to Look out For
To be honest, the worst websites I have encountered have been created by developers who have more of a background in marketing and SEO and don’t have a background in design and usability. These developers are usually very good at selling their service. This is not necessarily a bad thing because they may be working with good designers and coders and of course there is still a great value in having a marketing and SEO background. From my perspective however, good marketing and SEO is only going to go so far if the usability of the site is terrible and it takes forever to load.
The best thing to do is to ask the web developer, who will be actually designing and building the website? Of course you will also be able to get a feel for the quality of their work by looking at the websites in their portfolio. I guess the one trick here is that they may have worked with different designers and coders in the past who no longer work with them. If you are impressed by certain websites in their portfolio you may want to double check this.
Another thing to look out for is the web designer’s training. Have they been formally trained, and if so, what is their background? How long have they been working in the industry?
Audit Their Sites Yourself
There is nothing to stop you doing some basic auditing of their sites yourself. I would recommend taking their own site and running it through a basic test for speed and performance such as:
You can also open up their websites on different devices and see how they function.
I guess it’s also called due diligence. If the website developer has done work for businesses in your local community they may have done work for someone you know. It is amazing how reputation can travel. On the flip side, during my career I have been rescued many times from taking on work with dodgy individuals by simply talking to people I know.
Although it may seem a bit awkward, in theory there is nothing stopping you from contacting businesses in your web developers portfolio and asking them yourself. I guess the main questions you would want to ask are, was this person easy to work with, and are you happy with the result?
About The Author
My name is Henry Egloff and I am a freelance web design / website developer based in Byron Bay Australia. Specialising in Wordpress, web design, website optimisation and training, I design and build websites for clients based around Australia and the Byron Bay area, including Bangalow, Ballina, Mullumbimby and Lismore. View Portfolio