How to Hire a Web Designer

Learning Academy

If you are looking to hire a website designer for your next project and want to know what to look for, and what pitfalls to avoid, you are in the right place.

Whether you are a marketing manager who works for a small business tasked with getting a website built or are the business owner looking to get your website redesigned, you will find this article helpful. It will demystify the process of hiring a local website developer and walk you through what you should be looking at when hiring a website designer.


When it comes to designing and building a website, cost is obviously an important factor to business owners.

Don’t Under Pay

On the surface it may seem a cheap website, as long as it looks pretty, will be good enough for a business. This follows a simple rule which is the less money you spend, the more you will save!

While you will be saving money initially, business owners should really be thinking long term about the opportunity cost of the website.

The way this concept works is you have a certain amount of money to invest in your project. You can do many different things with this money. You can buy a cheap website off of Upwork, go even cheaper and try and build your own, or hire an experienced website designer. Based on the decision you have to make, you need to figure out which one will bring in the most net profit.

For example, a well thought out planned website with marketing strategies in place could attract more traffic and convert better than a cheap website that was put together by someone that doesn’t understand your business or online marketing in general. A greater investment up front can lead to much larger net profits down the road, and for a longer period of time.

You also need to consider the value of your time as well. Lower cost websites may mean a larger time commitment from you. Take buying furniture from Ikea for example. They keep the cost of the furniture down by shipping you the product that requires one or more people hours to assemble. This saves you money but requires you to invest more time. Plus, the quality of output most likely is not as high, since you are not a professional furniture builder. The same concept is true with low cost websites, but these time commitments would be ongoing and not just a one time thing.

Don’t Over Pay

Paying to much is a hazard as well. While large digital agencies and website firms usually produce good work, they also have more overhead thanks in part to big offices in high end locations with swanky interiors which are meant to wow clients. Unfortunately this overhead has to be paid for somehow, and that is by charging the client more.

Pay for Strategy and Quality

All websites are built and outputted using the same code, from the cheap $500 sites, to those from tech giants like Google and Facebook. HTML is used to build the structure of the website, CSS to style it, and JavaScript to add interactivity. What you should be paying for is a higher quality version of the same thing without the unnecessary overhead. You want someone who knows how to code better, someone who understands design better, and who comprehends the marketing strategies which allows a website to convert more visitors into sales. This is what you should be paying for.

We have talked about cost a lot in the Learning Academy. You can learn more by reading our Guide for Website Buyers and our article on How much does a Website Cost.

Importance of Marketing Plus Design and Development

A lot of catch all terms are used to describe someone who builds or creates a website. Two of the most popular ones are Website Designer and Website Developer.

The term Website Designer makes most people think of someone who is more artistic and is about the overall style and user interface.

Versus a Website Developer who is seen as a person who is a coder and deals with the inner workings of the website.

Someone who is building you a business website has to be all these things, but also something more. In fact this is the most important thing!

They also have to be a online marketer.

While you want your website to be informative, stylish and developed by someone who knows what they are doing. None of these things matter unless the website will meet the primary purpose of a business website. In most cases, this is to bring in more money.

To do this you need to first develop a marketing strategy which will attract visitors before you can do anything else. You need to realize you are building the website for your target audience, and not for you.

Therefore the target audiences (there may be more than one) of your business needs to be identified, along with what they are looking for (their intentions). Based on the audience and what intentions they may have, you can then determine what their goals or next steps are.

Defining these variables (and others) helps in determining the best marketing strategies to use and is part of the eSilverStrike Consulting website build process very early on and is the foundation of what makes a website successful.

A Content Management System Speeds up the Process

A content management system (or CMS for short) is software that resides on a webserver that uses a database to help manage content. Other core CMS features usually include an easy to use wizard for installing and updating, themestemplate systemplugin architecture (to expand functionality), searching, file management, and group based user permissions. 

There are many different CMSs. All have their niches, strengths, and weaknesses. Some are SaaS (Software as a Service) based, which are located and hosted in the cloud like Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify. Others solutions are self hosted on rented web hosting servers like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla.

Using a CMS gives a website a robust framework to start with. This makes it much quicker, easier, and cheaper to add features and style a website, compared with going the completely custom build root.

At eSilverStrike Consulting we use WordPress which powers over 43% of the top 10 million websites. There are many benefits to using WordPress including how customizable it is and having complete control and direct access to your own content. Businesses also love using WordPress for their websites since many web hosting providers and web design agencies have experience with it and specialize in it. This means you are not beholden to any one company, and can move if anything ever becomes an issue.

Most businesses when they think about their website only envision the front end that normal visitors see. They forget about the backend and what it takes to update content. At eSilverStrike Consulting we take this into consideration and make sure content that may get updated more often (like a companies list of team members) has an interface that requires little training to use. Of course some businesses rather us deal with all ongoing content updates which we are more than happy to do and is why we have our maintenance care plans.

Doing Your Due Diligence

While the majority of the work for a custom website project is hidden behind the scenes and is difficult to assess for those not in this industry (like marketing, SEO, and code), you still need to take a look at your potential web designers actual website. When you do, ask yourself these questions about the design and content to help you assess their overall work:

  • Do you like the style and overall look of the website?
  • Does the design layout work on a laptop and on smaller devices like a phone?
  • Is the website pages and content organized making it easy to have the questions you need answered found?
  • Based on what you found, is this business something you would seriously consider using if the need for the service or products arose?

Any good designers website should also offer a portfolio/case studies and/or some social proof from their own clients like testimonials or reviews. If you find information about their past clients, take a look at some of these client websites as well and ask the questions listed above. If you don’t find the social proof or a list of past projects with an actual link to the clients websites then this may be a cause for concern.

One last important step is doing a quick search on Google using the business name of the web designer. From here you may find some past work of the business. Often web designers will include a signature in the footers of the websites they built like “Website Design by Acme Design”. This search may also lead to reviews of the business posted on 3rd party services like Google, Clutch, UpCity, Yelp, etc. Reading these reviews can help indicate the level of satisfaction of their clients. Of course these reviews can be faked or filtered by the business so only the really good reviews and ratings show up. For this reason you will have to just estimate their level of authentication and consider them along with all the other information you have gathered.

Practice What You Preach

You wouldn’t trust a dentist with bad teeth or a fitness instructor that was over weight. Therefore, trusting a web designer with a bland looking website or an SEO specialist whose website that does not rank well on Google doesn’t make sense either.

As you are visiting our website and reading this article, you most likely are looking for a web designer. If you have any questions about a potential website project, please reach out and contact us or make a design inquiry directly. We will be more than happy to talk with you.

You may also want to check our our Learning Academy Startup Course which has a selection of articles like our Guide for Website Buyers which is designed to help our visitors make informed decisions when it comes to building a website.

About the Author

Tom Homer

Building custom dynamic websites is our specialty. With over 25 years experience in software design and development I have been helping  small businesses invest in their future.

Article Author Tom