So, you’re looking for a web designer near you. It can be a minefield if you don’t know what to look for. Do you choose a freelancer or agency? Do you base it on word-of-mouth or customer reviews? How do you know that particular web designer will be right for your project? Confusing right? Perhaps you hadn’t even thought of some of these questions, but at least you have now! I’ve put this article together to help you decide how to go about choosing the right web designer for your needs (you can always skip the article and just shoot me an email!). Read on for more information about the questions you should be asking yourself, and then how to decide on the right website designer for your project.
Should I hire a freelance web designer or a web design agency?
Upgrading your old website starts with the most important question: Do you choose a freelance website designer or go to a digital agency? Surely an agency has some obvious benefits, but that’s not always the case. After all, you might find a freelance web designer (like me) has more time to devote to your project. Here are the main differences between freelancers and agencies, which will hopefully help you to answer this first and important question.
There’s almost no doubt with this one; a freelancer should always be cheaper than an agency. And if they’re not, then you’re asking the wrong freelancer or there is something wrong with the agency that gave you a quote. A freelancer will usually work from home or a small office space, which means they don’t have as many costs to meet. With an agency, however, they have to cover the costs of office space, equipment, and all the people on payroll who aren’t working on your project. This issue basically doesn’t need any more explanation because a freelancer will almost always win on cost over an agency.
Surely an agency will have a better range of services? Not always, as freelance web designers like myself do everything possible to diversify our service package so that we can compete with these big agencies. Similarly, many freelancers will have friends or colleagues for advice, if nothing else, which means they might not work as alone as you think. When it comes to agencies, there’s no denying that by having more people they’re more likely to have a bigger range of services. However, the trade-off with this is that your new website will be passed around between several people, and if the communication isn’t there, then ideas can easily be lost along the way. And on that note comes one of the most important issues when deciding who will work on your project:
It hardly needs saying that you expect good communication when you pay someone plenty of money to build you a new website, but who will be better at communicating? When it comes to freelancers, they generally try to be available for you whenever, even if this means outside of typical office hours. If nothing else, most freelancers will respond to an email, but many are happy to deal over the phone too. What’s more, agencies will typically have many clients at one time, and will often have a receptionist of some kind fielding their calls. This means messages can get missed or might take a while to reach their intended recipient, which is all time wasted. And when their time is on your money, this is the last thing you want.
SO, FREELANCER OR AGENCY?
Of course, there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to hiring a web designer, but the first decision is whether to choose a freelancer or agency. In general, freelancers will be more available, cheaper, and more responsive to communications, meaning your project will hopefully be smoother. In my opinion, a freelancer wins every time.
How should I start my web design project?
There’s more to a web design project than who to hire. After you’ve decided whether you want to go with a freelancer or agency, it’s worth getting your ideas together on what you want from this project. Only then will you be able to communicate effectively with your web designer, which hopefully results in a better end result. Here are the main things to consider before contacting a web designer.
What specifically do you want from your website? Is it to sell products or services, or more information-based? Either way, knowing your goals will help to solidify your ideas at an early stage. Start by searching for sites similar to what you want, as this will help you visualise your needs more coherently.
Create a mood board.
Mood boards are an excellent starting point for a range of projects, particularly something visual like web design. Your mood board can be physical (on paper) or digital. Either way, it gives you a chance to hash some ideas out and should make everything smoother. Start with colours and visuals because these will be the most striking parts of your site. Build from there to include things like fonts and graphics, including different examples so you’ve got options in the future. Get enough information so that you can choose, but not too much that you overload your designer with ideas.
Of course, next comes budget. There are two ways to go about this: pick your price and work to it, or do some research. This is why planning helps because you can then contact several web designers with your basic needs, and they can provide you with some estimates. Obviously, don’t always go with the cheapest, or in fact the most expensive. Use price as a starting point, and then investigate some of their previous work. Also, you can expect the web design project to cost more than you think, so if you’re just setting a budget before you start, I’d recommend making it at least 10% higher than what you originally decided.
Get yourself prepared.
Even before you’ve chosen a web designer, it can help to start building your resources so you can jump into the project whenever. This can include compiling images and graphics for your site (just make sure everything is correct with copywriting) and also designing a site map so your designer has a better understanding. One of my biggest tips for this part is to create a cloud-based storage centre for your ideas. This could be Dropbox or Google Drive, or similar, but using one of these will make things much easier for your web designer. Even if you live close to one another (which often won’t be the case), online and cloud-based collaboration tools are the way forward.
Don’t forget the contract.
Most web designers will provide you with a contract to sign that covers things like exit fees and expected work. However, even if they don’t offer you a contract to sign, it can be helpful to both parties if one is set up. More than anything, a contract helps to manage expectations around things like cost and timeline. Sitting down and working this out before the project starts is an ideal way of keeping things proper between you. Want daily/weekly updates? Put it in the contract. Have certain expectations for communication? Put it in the contract.
My Web Design Services
Now that you’ve made the wise decision to choose a freelancer for your web design project, I’ll tell you why you should hire me for it. Not only am I good at what I do, I go out of my way to ensure my clients are always satisfied with my work, as you can see from my reviews. Here are the main reasons you should hire me for your web design project.
1. I build websites in WordPress
WordPress is a dream tool for the client. Sure, big companies might prefer to have their sites built with custom code so they can charge more for website maintenance, but there are some obvious benefits to going with WordPress, particularly for smaller businesses with lower budgets. These include:
- Cheaper & faster. WordPress comes with default features and settings that are essential to every website on the internet. These best practices maximise performance of every website from the very start. If you went with a custom-coded website then you’d have to pay plenty more to cover the time of setting up these core elements from scratch, let alone the next stages of development and design.
- More scalable. WordPress has a huge plugin database that makes it incredibly easy to add new features to your website with the help of a worldwide community of passionate experts. Rather than having to create from scratch major parts of your website like email notifications or blog features, which you’d do with a custom site, WordPress lets you just download a plugin and add it to your website in seconds. It is that easy!
- Easier for you to edit. There might be plenty of reasons why you’d want to edit your site in the future, and these might not be big enough for you to pay a web designer. The benefit of WordPress is that it’s so easy to use, meaning pretty much anyone can make changes to their site with little to no problem, as easy as updating your Facebook profile information.
- Safer. WordPress comes with its own range of built-in security features, many of which you won’t find by simply buying a domain name and building your own site. What’s more, these safety features are built in to WordPress, meaning you’re secure at every layer.
Basically, WordPress is like renting a market stall in a shopping centre. It allows you to have your own space branded to your liking, but you don’t have to worry as much about business rates and such. This gives you more time to focus on making your website everything it needs to be.
2. I’m easy to deal with
Like any freelancer, I try to make myself available for clients whenever they need me, which isn’t usually a service you’d get from an agency. I’m almost always available during evenings and weekends, so no matter when your question pops up, you can ask it and know you’ll get a response quickly. What’s more, I go out of my way to make every experience as personal as possible. One of the most useful tools for building someone a new website is to know what they need, and the only way to truly know this is to talk about it. This might seem obvious, but I go further than just working to your brief. I find out what you need and then build your new website around everything we discuss. Similarly, this means I’m also always on hand to change anything or re-work your design briefs. For me, customer satisfaction is the main priority, so I go out of my way to ensure my clients are happy.
3. I provide aftercare
What counts as website aftercare? Are you expected to maintain everything on your site after I’ve built it? Of course not! Not only is website maintenance probably not your area of expertise, you’ve also got a business to run. I make a point of offering website aftercare so you can feel safe knowing your website is still being handled by a professional. Website maintenance includes things like security and backups, meaning your website will always be protected against a range of common security concerns. This is particularly helpful if you’re dealing with customer data, in which case you can’t not leave your website with a professional.
If you’re looking for a web designer, something you thought was going to be a challenge, hopefully this article has helped you streamline your ideas. What’s more, hopefully this article has made you realise that I’m the web designer you’ve been looking for! I’ll ensure that your project will be the very best it can be, and will get you the results you expect. I don’t think about each new project as another example of my work, I think about it as creating a stable and accessible platform from which your business can develop and grow. Above are just a few of the many reasons why I’d be the best web designer for your project, but if you still have any doubts then please take a look at some of my examples of previous projects. Alternatively, contact me with your requirements or questions and I’ll happily discuss it with you.