Template-based web design, codeless development and automated web page generation have all served to radically lower the barrier for entry into the web design profession. Two decades ago, web design and development was a geeky mysterious occupation whose secrets only a select few were privy to.

web designers hiring tips

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Those days are long gone and the profiles of web designers now range from rookies relying wholly on templates to seasoned gurus with vast experience. What this means is hiring a web designer is harder than it used to be. You have to know who you are hiring if you want to avoid disappointment. The following questions should help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

1. What Experience Do They Have?

No company entrusts a major project to an intern. The stakes are too great to leave to chance. Similarly, if you are keen on getting a high quality website, it would be self-defeating to hire an inexperienced web designer. They must demonstrate their expertise of major web development languages and provide live examples of similar work done.

They should be conversant with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and at least one programming language (PHP would be preferred since it’s the most widely used on the web but Perl, Java, ASP or C++ may suffice). Overall, the more technical knowledge a web designer has, the better.

2. Do They Understand Search Engine and Social Media Optimization?

Web design and SEO/SMO aren’t interchangeable skills. While most web designers today understand the principles of SEO/SMO, there are still those who haven’t. Ergo, separate your evaluation of a web designer’s HTML, graphic design and programming skills from your assessment of their SEO/SMO knowledge.

They do not have to be a subject matter expert in SEO/SMO though that would be a plus. However, they should have a solid grasp of the basics. Even if you intend to hire an SEO/SMO expert later on to specifically focus on optimization, the foundation the web designer lays will be crucial in making the SEO/SMO firm’s work easier.

If the designer does not build your website the right way from the ground up, it will take you plenty of time and money to get things back on track.

3. Do They Have References?

Web designers are in business so they’ll be keen on presenting themselves in the best light if that’s what it will take to get the job. That’s all fine and dandy. What you want to be careful about though is being taken in by a designer whose resume and presentation isn’t consistent with the experience of their past customers.

A reputable web designer should have no problem providing references from clients they’ve worked with before. Such references should be evaluated in two ways. First, visit the websites to see whether the sophistication is similar to what you need. Second, get in touch with the client and hear how well they think their project was handled.

Even when the website designer picks the clients they think have only the warmest words to say about them, you will always be able to pick out problematic hints from your conversation e.g. a consistent failure to meet deadlines.

4. How Well Do They Communicate?

Technical web design knowledge and experience is great but does not always translate to good communication skills. Yet, poor communication is often the reason many web design projects run into headwinds. If a designer is unable to listen, read and clearly understand your requirements from the outset, they may indeed create a top-notch website but one that’s of little relevance to your needs.

Fortunately, communication skills are something you can pick out pretty early in your interaction. For example, when you share your requirements with the designer give them time to explain it back to you. It’s okay if they make one or two mistakes but if they are a poor listener and communicator, you’ll know fairly quickly.

The success of your website is closely related to the competence of the website designer you hire. Take time to make sure you contract the right person.