How to Hire a Web Designer [pt. 2] by Ken Howard

small business website tips, website design tips, website designYour website is the first point of contact for potential customers. Using a template from do-it-yourself services just won’t cut it if you want to be taken seriously. Hiring a professional web designer is the first step. But how should you go about hiring one? Here’s some simple guidelines to hiring a professional web designer to make your website best represent your business.

  • Ask your friends or colleagues. Chances are you know someone who knows a web designer. If they are really happy with the quality of work created by the web designer, they will be more than willing to give you the web designer’s contact info.
  • Search Google. If you are looking for a team to design and develop a website for you then search for terms like “web design company” or “web design firm”. If you’re looking for a freelance web designer, search for terms like “freelance web designer” or “small business web design”. To get local results, be sure to include a city name in the search as well.
  • Web Design Galleries. Web designers like to show off their work in many places. Take a look at these resources and I’m sure you’ll find a design that captivates you: CSSmania, Smashing Magazine Showcases, CSSelite, and Dribbble.

Now that you have a starting point, what’s next? Not all web designers are created equal. If you already have a web developer on board you might not need web designer who codes HTML, CSS or JavaScript. In most cases you’ll want to find someone who is capable of working with these technologies, but that depends on your situation.

Review the candidate’s portfolio before contacting a web designer. Their portfolio indicates the work they are proud of. An indicator of less-experience web designers is that they are proud of all their work and will show subpar pieces in their portfolio.

Look for client testimonials. If a web designer has done great work, clients want to leave a glowing review. No testimonials on their website? Take a look at their LinkedIn profile.

Here are some sample questions you might ask a web design candidate:

  1.  What is web 2.0? Everyone has their own definition of web 2.0. Their answer sets the stage for how familiar they are with emerging topics and technologies. The answer you are looking for can be as general as “web services” and more specific as “Facebook”. A true definition can be found in O’Reilly’s “What Is Web 2.0”.
  2.  What is your design process? A design process should be well defined. If their answer indicates that they look at other websites you like and go from there, they probably don’t have a true process. Web design should solve a problem. The process of designing a website begins with research. Identifying the problem and begin to develop a solution through surveying the target audience. Smashing Magazine has a well-written article titled “Following a Web Design Process”.
  3.  Do you design for mobile devices? The new terms in this space are “responsive design” and “mobile first design”. A less-experienced web designer may mention a separate website to run a mobile version of your website. This is no longer acceptable. Google is recommending a responsive website for better mobile user-experience.

How much should a good web designer cost?

Web design is an art form. After looking at their body of work you will get a feeling for how much their worth. Most web designers will do project work at a flat rate. Price is always negotiable. If you are looking to bring on a web designer full-time expect to pay a salary between $55,000 and $73,000 according to

Personality plays a big role. Find the web designer who you want to work with closely.

Ken Howard is the Interactive Manager at Turtledove Clemens, an Integrated Marketing Communications firm in Portland, Oregon. He is passionate about Social Media, Search Engine Optimization and intuitive, user-friendly web design. You can follow him on Twitter @kenhowardpdx.

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