5 Common Mistakes Made When Hiring a Web Designer

Finding and choosing the right web designer can be a confusing and frustrating process for many people. There are so many options and different factors to consider. When you are in the situation, here are 5 common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

1. Deciding on Price Alone.

While the cost of a designer is an important factor that should always be a factor in the decision making process, it shouldn’t dictate who you choose without also considering a number of other factors. If you are building a website for a business, that website will become a value-adding asset of the business. Try not to look at it as just a financial drain, but an asset that has a chance to bring new customers and opportunities.

By choosing the lowest-priced option you may not get a website that meets your needs. On the other hand, high price doesn’t necessarily equal high quality. Some lower-priced designers may give you a better end result and better service than some high-priced design firms.

You should make your decision based on a number of factors including price, the quality of their portfolio, their level of communication with you, the time line you’re working with, etc.

2. Not Considering Specialties.

If you are not very familiar with web design it may be easy to overlook the fact that there are several different areas or types of design that a particular designer may specialize in. Obviously, to get the best results you’ll want to find someone who specializes in, or at least has experience with, your type of project.

For example, if you are interested in a minimalistic design, don’t choose someone because they have a portfolio full of flash-based websites with lots of bells and whistles. Likewise, if you’re looking for bells and whistles, don’t choose someone who specializes in minimalistic design.

This sounds kind of obvious, but many times the specialization is ignored when trying to decide between a few different options. For the best results you should have a good idea of what style of website you want, and base your search on finding someone who meets your needs.

3. Not Considering Future Updates and Maintenance.

Regardless of how well your new website is built, it will require updates and maintenance from time-to-time. Most designers offer these services at an hourly rate or as part of a package, but this is something you shouldn’t assume. Talk to potential designers about the possibility of them performing maintenance and what charges would be involved.

Typically, you’ll get the best results by having the original designer also do the updates and maintenance. No one else will know the website as well as the designer. However, you may have someone in your office or on staff that is capable of making updates, which should also be considered in this case.

The costs of maintenance should always be considered, and just as important, the costs of not being able to perform maintenance should be considered. If you hire a designer and are then unable to get updates completed, your website may quickly become out of date and ineffective.

4. Hiring Someone Who Does Not Build Search Engine-Friendly Websites.

It’s possible to have a great-looking website that is built horribly for search engines. While search engine optimization involves much more than the structure of the site, starting with a solid foundation will give you the best chance to compete.

If you are not very familiar with web design or SEO it may be difficult for you to evaluate the structure of a website. In this case, the best thing to do is ask potential designers how search engines influence the decisions they make during the design process. Ideally, websites should be built for people (the real visitors) but it should not interfere with the search engine spiders/robots that come to crawl the site.

5. Being Overly Influenced by a Wow Factor.

Many designers use elements like Flash intros on their projects as wow factor for potential clients. While they may look great, in most industries they’ll annoy visitors and do more harm than good.

This all goes back to knowing what you want in a website and finding someone who can deliver. Try not to be wowed or swayed by an impressive piece of work that has nothing to do with your type of project.

This is certainly not a complete list of mistakes that are made during this process, but these are 5 mistakes that I see being made on a regular basis. What other things would you like to add to the list?

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37 Responses

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  • lv, August 2, 2010

    Coding is also not easy. It takes time to learn this and it takes time to implement coding in to a website; there for I think people should think at least twice if the price they are looking for is fair.

  • colin, May 18, 2010

    Good points but the relationship between web designer/developer varies depending on the size of the client’s company and the experience the client has in regards to web sites in general. At the same time larger companies usually have older marketing directors who try apply the same thinking to the internet that they’ve applied to traditional marketing. This is usually outdated and inaccurate.

  • CWGLive, April 6, 2010

    Wow, great points indeed. And of course if one takes the website as a financial drain and pays peanuts to design the sites, s/he is invariably going to end up with monkeys designing the website! You get what you pay for.

  • Website Design Services, July 7, 2009

    I completely agree with this article. You have to think before choosing the right designer. Think of the benefits in the long run.

  • 4design, May 26, 2009

    I agree, this is the main 5 errors. But it cost more to write a little about freelancers, what they lie dangers novice web designer, for example, that you need to work only on an advance.

  • Halifax College, March 18, 2009

    A web designer that is not familiar or doesn’t know the concept of SEO has stayed behind. If hiring one of those make sure you have your seo company recommend him the best practices. Websites should be built for both human and search engines eyes, and it has been demonstrated that it’s possible.

  • “Only a few days ago I was approaced by someone who had got a quote for a web site for £120 and was looking for a cheaper quote.”

    hehe…this is nothing…I once met someone who asked me to do his site of 5 pages for $70. In this 5 pages I was supposed to design, and code. And when it comes to codding I also was supposed to do a submit form for about 10 boxes.
    I have to say this was the most funny client I’ve ever had :)

    Designing is not easy, mostly when unique theme is needed.
    Coding is also not easy. It takes time to learn this and it takes time to implement coding in to a website; there for I think people should think at least twice if the price they are looking for is fair.

  • Vandelay Design, November 8, 2007

    Yes, I think it is an evolving process that will always need some tweeking. (Steven by the way).

  • David Hopkins, November 8, 2007

    Vandelay, Mr. Snell – I forget your first name. It is sad to see that you face the same problems. However as A.O. Hare points out you learn from your problem clients. I adapt my terms and conditions on an almost weekly basis to counteract the many loopholes of web design.

  • A O Hare, November 8, 2007

    through mistake we can gain many thing. But after that we have to make it purify. Thanks for sharing.

  • Vandelay Design, November 7, 2007

    David H.,
    You have a lot of good points. I don’t work on the same types of sites as you, but I have similar experiences. It seems like clients don’t really think about the work that goes into things because they don’t actually see the work being done.

  • David Hopkins, November 7, 2007

    David Airey has a very good point. As he covers on his blog, if a company wants a good logo that fits their needs they are going to have to come forward and communicate and really that time should be charged from.

    I generally work on large projects, with AJAX, large databases with lots of joins, JS widgets etc. These projects are an absolute nightmare to work on because the client is always very shy to come forward with information until you’ve finished the site and they ask you to rebuild half of it because they didn’t tell you exactly what to do with the first place.

    My advice for anyone working on large projects is that you absolutly have to write up a complete specification for the project. Send it to them and have them go through it, make any changes and then tell them that this is the contract and you won’t do anything outside of the contract without uplift charges. If you are not firm with your clients you will end up getting walked all over.

  • Tevenauta, November 7, 2007

    Great article, but what a horrible comment by Mr. Hopkins above suggesting that Government should step in to regulate designers and web developers? I would guess coming from a country where you need a license to watch television at home would be enough to convince anybody that Government intervention is a bad idea, but I guess not.

    Useful information would be what exactly to look for in a wordpress theme code to check it’s SEO friendliness.

  • David Airey, November 5, 2007

    Certainly worth a stumble.

    Like you say, the level of communication between the designer / developer and client is vital.

  • Armen, November 5, 2007

    What would I add to the list? The most important of all…

    If you find a designer who is exactly what you’re after, and builds successful, functional, and beautiful sites, let him do what he’s good at, and don’t think your ideas are better than his.

    Nice post.

  • Raphaele, November 5, 2007

    Very useful pieces of advice, especially the one about maintenance. There is no point of having a website out of date. I may add that customers should not assume that the web designer will come up with site content for them. Before they get in the process of choosing a designer, they should make sure they know what the site is gonna be about. it may sound silly, but it happens so often they don’t…

  • Jermayn Parker, November 4, 2007

    A very good list, agree with them all.

    Another good tip is to get expert opinion on what exactly you need for your business, as some companies will try and sell you what you do not need.

  • Vandelay Design, November 4, 2007

    I like your article. Thanks for leaving the link.

  • Deron Sizemore, November 3, 2007

    Very nice article. Stumbled!

    The deciding on price alone is the one that gets me. I mean, I understand the whole reasoning behind it. I mean the consumer is looking for the cheapest price, but the consumer just needs to realize that with websites, you normally get what you pay for. I can’t remember the exact quote or who said it, but a good quote I heard recent was “if you think hiring a profession designer is expensive, try hiring an amateur.” That’s really true. If you hire someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, you’ll spend more in the long run fixing their mistakes. I wrote an article on this topic if you’d like to check it out and weigh in your thoughts?

    If You’re a Web Developer, Your Skills Are Inferior to Other Professional’s Skills

  • Vandelay Design, November 3, 2007

    I don’t know of a tool that will do exactly what you want, but you may find some use from this tool.

    David H.,
    I think you’re right. Customers don’t see that a low price usually means a small static website that can be done quickly, not a large complex site like Digg. I completely agree.

  • David Hopkins, November 3, 2007

    @David, the most important thing for the ‘SEO friendlyness’ of a WP theme is to check that it has title tags.

    I think that in the coming years or maybe decades we may start to see Government backed or controlled bodies that will oversee web development companies, to reduce the huge number of cowboys and web 0.1 developers there are out there. There are other industried that are monitored, e.g. engineering and catering. Why not web design?

    Unfortunatly, most clients do not know anything about web development and just assume that the £200 site will be the same as the £2,000 one. Only a few days ago I was approaced by someone who had got a quote for a web site for £120 and was looking for a cheaper quote. How do these expect us poor web folks to survive on that? Another one I am getting a lot at the moment is people who want large social media sites for about £1,500. These people don’t understand that succesful sites such as Digg are run by a large staff of professionals.

  • david, November 3, 2007

    I’m new to source codes so I was thinking if there was a site that checks how seo friendly each wordpress theme is.

  • Glenn alvarez, November 3, 2007

    hi, Actually a web reflects your personality. Thus you should be very careful while choosing your web designer.
    The way you have explained the different kinds of web designers is very helpful .

    Good Day

  • Vandelay Design, November 2, 2007

    The best way to see if a WordPress template is SEO-friendly is to look at the source code. If you haven’t downloaded the theme you may be able to see source code of a demo theme or of another blog using the theme, although that’s not always a good idea because whoever is using the theme could have made some changes.

    You’re right about being able to work well with each other. Especially if it’s an ongoing project.

  • John Hunter, November 2, 2007

    Very good post. Once you find someone in your price range, I think other than skill/knowledge, the next most important thing is someone you can work with well. But it is very hard to judge. If you have a small simple site the design might be a one time thing. But if you have a larger site or multiple sites you can often have continuing needs. Finding someone that you can work with over the long term is critical.

  • coated, November 2, 2007

    When I require large design jobs, I often ask the designer for previous work and references. I see this as no different then hiring someone from any industry and history often speaks volumes.

    If references are happy with the level of service that they received, you can feel a lot safer that you will have a positive experience as well.

  • Acopic - Web Designers, November 2, 2007

    Some very valid points there. Unfortunately I think a lot of companies still go on price alone – which means that you get 1000s of ‘budget webdesign’ companies springing up offering sites for like £200 – which is really counter-productive – hence they go bust within a few months.

    I’m not saying price doesn’t matter, it does. You just get what you pay for. Also – search engine friendly sites are a must.

  • Wayne Liew, November 2, 2007

    A good post for all those who wanted a unique theme. One of the mistakes that many theme seekers made is that keeping quiet and let the designer do all the work.

    Theme seekers are customers and they should ask questions, give instructions and so on. If the designer is fed up, just don’t be his customer any more.

    A must remember thing for theme seeker is that the theme will be used by you, not the designer, they accept the money but they don’t depend on your performance with the theme.

  • david, November 1, 2007

    Is there a way to check if a wordpress template is SEO friendly?

  • Frank C, November 1, 2007

    A friend of mine who runs a retail store ran into this recently. He hired someone to do a “web presence” site for him (I was too busy). They built a beautiful flash base site that would not index well at all. Plus, he had to pay them to change anything on the site. He wasn’t very happy when he found that out.

  • Sauna, November 1, 2007

    Always think by keep own relaxing. It will be better.

  • College, November 1, 2007

    If you think about it before hiring, you can get be benefited. Then never will you think of your mistake at the time of hiring designer.