So you feel it’s the right time to have a website, and you have two options to make the idea come to life; you try to create the website by yourself or hire a good web designer who will deliver the service for you. If you decide to look for a professional, you should pay attention to several parameters that will help you choose the right web designer. The problem is, there are so many freelancers and agencies to choose from, but the attitude and quality of different suppliers’ service is often very unalike. Before you decide, go through our checklist of 9 tips on how to choose the right web designer for WordPress websites.
1. Own website is the best reference
First of all, have a look at the entire website of your (potential) supplier. How do they present themselves and explain what they do? Are there enough reference projects to check out? Can you see the live websites they created or is it just pictures? Do they have any testimonials? Is the website nice on the laptop as well as a mobile phone? Don’t be afraid to be critical; if you notice anything imperfect, such as typos and errors in every other paragraph or incorrect display of elements on the mobile phone, run away, this one is not a work in progress, this is what your own website would look like.
2. A good web designer has a diverse portfolio
Have you found a couple of website design providers you like? Great! Before you sign a contract, look carefully at their portfolio. The reference projects that the contractor has implemented should be sufficiently diverse. This means that the portfolio should include different types of websites or at least some of them, e.g. blog, e-shop, single-page website, large website, SAAS project, redesign, user-generated website and possibly others. Focus on this part especially if you are looking for a highly customized solution that requires advanced skills for your needs. Also, it’s a good sign if the reference websites aren’t looking the same, most importantly if you want a unique design for your website, not to be just one of many.
3. Well prepared and agreed contract is a good start
Do not look at the contract as an administrative burden, it is actually the only legal document that sets out the terms of cooperation between you and the web designer. A lot of people might say that a contract is useless, but it does protect you in case an unexpected problem arises. The contract should set out all the basic components of the service; price, deadlines, goals and content of the website, maintenance, and all conditions of the mutual collaboration. If your designer does not send you at least a draft for approval before they start working on your website, hold your horses and do request one, working without the contract isn’t the right procedure.
4. Designing skills doesn’t mean filling the template with text
A WordPress website can be 100% custom made, or filled with text in a ready-to-go template, or anything in between. Mind you, you most certainly don’t need an agency to fill in the template, you will be able to do it by yourself. On the other hand, if you want a more customized solution, you’re going to need a professional. In that case, make sure they master the following points, especially if they are a freelancer having to cover for all of them the same time:
UX principles (user experience)
The UX is a frameworked design of a service or product to lead the customer through the website easily. In this case, you’re not the customer, the customer is your customer, in other words, the user of your website. UX makes the website easy to use for them and intuitive to finish the action you want them to take.
UI principles (user interface)
The UI is the visible design of elements, colours, pictures, videos, animations, interactions, text and calls to action so as to lead the web users to the required action. UI makes the website look good and the way your target group expect. At least it should, because it is supposed to be focused strictly on them
Your web designer should be a pro in working with Gutenberg or, at least one realiable website builder (DIVI, Elementor, Astra etc.). This allows them to built or customize the design for your website, make it 100% responsive or come up with fully tailor-made adjustments in the CSS code.
Graphic design skills
Graphic design skills are rather a nice to have quality, especially amongst freelancers. It gives amazing freedom and ability to create a very customized and unique look of your website. Also, they can deliver an all-in-one service in case you want business cards or other promotional material.
Copywriting and proofreading
Copywriting is an extremely specialized discipline on its own. If you desire stunning texts, you will probably need pay extra for this extra service. If you decide to write the text content on your own, your web designer should be able to advise you on what and how to communicate your message, and possibly also correct factual and stylistic errors.
5. Only comprehensive service delivers perfect websites
The frontend part of WordPress websites can be fairly easy to do. Good websites are not only what you see, as there’s the backend part, too. That means anything you cannot really see but ensures your website is reliable and working the way you expect. Before you sign your contract, make sure your website provider will be able to:
- implement and configure hosting and WP correctly,
- secure your website with a SSL certificate,
- code or adjust CSS in case you need it,
- install and maintain your plugins on regular basis,
- set and get the backup of your website in case something goes wrong.
A huge advantage is if your designer has an overlap with business consulting, especially in the context of marketing. If they are able to explain context or issues related to your business goals, vision, or target group, then design a functional solution based on their experience, or even help you with other problems besides the website, you have come across a great partner.
6. Own ideas to rely on
When building your new website or redesigning the old one, you need a reliable partner who knows what to do. It’s super easy for any designer to create a website exactly the way the client wants to, the thing is that they’re responsible for making sure it will meet your goals. A website is a tool you use to represent your business and your web designer should know enough to be able to deliver the solution that your customers will love. You don’t need someone to ask you where to put a button, you need someone to rely on that it’s in the perfect spot. Put differently, it’s the same as when you go buy a car: does your salesman expect you to tell them what to do?
7. Communication is key for meaningful collaboration
Communication is totally one of the key factors to consider. It starts with the way they reply to your query and shows their expertise by suggesting solutions for your project. Also, they should always talk to you the way you understand and they don’t make you feel uncomfortable at any stage of the process. You should feel no pressure, and the process is supposed to bring you ease of mind because you feel your project is being taken care of by true professionals. Don’t forget though that communication always is a two-way process; in order to get it right, you will need to stay in touch, collaborate, provide information, feedback and perhaps a couple of ideas.
8. Ownership and admin login details are a must
If you’re starting a brand new site, you’ll probably ask your web designer for help with domain registration and web hosting. It’s obvious that these are a necessity, but before you get them, make sure they are registered with your name. The domain owner is the site owner. If your web designer buys the domain for himself, you don’t have any rights to it. Likewise, the website is useless to you if you do not have the login details to it. This does not mean any login details, it means specifically the admin login details that work and entitles you to make any changes to your site.
9. Basic training for your independency
Do you think WordPress is too difficult to manage for you? No way, it’s not that bad. Honestly, at some point, you will need to change little details such as phone number, e-mail address or working hours. In order to freely and independently do this anytime you want, you need your web designer to show you how to do it. Basic online training takes about 20 minutes, and you can record it with ZOOM so you can get back to it if you’re not completely sure what to do in the future.
Bonus: Is the price a reliable sign of a good web designer?
If you generally think a more expensive service means better quality, then you may have it all wrong. Each digital marketing provider has a different pricing strategy, which often depends, for example, on experience, the value of the assets and inputs, brand strength, good quality references, the size of projects, the number of orders (usually, the higher the demand, the more expensive services). Also, you can come across a fresh freelancer who’s just building their portfolio charges low but delivers great websites. From the customer’s point of view, it is difficult to find the way around if one company charges € 990 and the other € 2 900 for exactly the same output. Therefore, the answer is no, the price is definitely not the leading indicator of quality.
It is not easy to choose a good quality, honest website designer that you will be able to rely on even in the future. You can always try to ask your friends who they would recommend, but keep in mind that what works for one person and the job may not work for another. When choosing your future designer, follow not only the price in the first place but also the other parameters that are way more significant. It’s really worth the time! In the end, you will be glad you did so because if you’re prepared, no one can fool you.