What to look for in a web designer for your small business

When in the process of hiring a web designer, it can be easy to overlook certain important skills that a candidate should have. If you’re running a small business and are looking to hire a web designer to increase your online presence, knowing who the best fit is can be tricky. After all, if you knew enough about web design to design a site, you wouldn’t need the help of a professional!

Editor’s note: This article has been newly updated.

Overall, whoever you hire should have good working knowledge or HTML, CSS, and javascript. Beyond that, it depends largely on what you are looking to get out of the website. Here are some potential questions to ask yourself that will help you determine the skills your candidate will need to possess in order to complete your project successfully. 

  • Do you need to improve the content as well as the layout of your website? If yes, you could either try to find someone who can provide a “one stop shop” for your website on a regular basis, or you could hire a web copy editor as well as a web designer.

  • Is your site a web presence for a brick and mortar business only, or do you also need it to be an e-commerce site? A site that supports transactions is much more complex than a site that only conveys information, so if you are looking to sell through your website, make sure your web developer has the experience and the know-how to get it right.

  • Do you have a mock up of how you want your site to look? If not, look for someone with some graphic design and user experience knowledge to make sure it ends up looking professional. It’s important to hire someone with both UX and design experience as their UX experience will help make a website clear and easy to use and their design experience will make the website nice and up to date. If you do have a mock up, make sure you discuss your vision with potential candidates so they understand what you need.

  • Do you want to include animations and/or focus on SEO? If you want your site to have animations make sure to find a good flash developer. If you prioritize getting traffic from Google, make sure you find someone who knows how to make a SEO (search engine optimization) friendly website. Understand that you can’t always have it both ways – for instance, a flash website is not going to deliver strong SEO results.

    Talk with the potential candidates about your aims, potential drawbacks, and how you can work to create objectives. As well, make sure to establish key performance indicators from the beginning so that you can be sure you’re on the same page about how to build your site.

  • Do you have a good rapport? You will be going back and forth with this individual quite a bit, so it is important that you get along and understand each other. Bad communication will cost you time and money so make sure you can work well together.

  • Do you like their work? Make sure you ask to view their portfolio, and ask for references (preferably from some of the same businesses that they display in their portfolio). It’s important that you make sure that you like the designer’s work, or else there’s a big chance that you won’t like the work they’ll do for you.

  • What price are you expecting to pay? Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when comparing quotes from web developers. If one web developer quotes you for the initial set up only and the other includes ongoing technical support, obviously the latter will be higher. Make sure you know exactly what services they are providing and that you are paying for so you can make an informed decision on who to hire.

Regardless of what kind of web developer you’re looking for, expand your pool of potential candidates by posting an ad about the opening on Kijiji. Make sure to include details about the job’s requirements and expectations so that you get more serious applications that lead to a successful hire.

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