How to Find a Website Designer

August 2020 · 6 min read

Follow the tips in this guide to find an experienced website designer to create your site and optimize it.

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With so much business being done online, it’s surprising to know that over one-third of small businesses don’t have a website, according to a 2019 survey.

However, there's a good reason to invest in an online presence: around 70%-80% of people research companies online before making a purchase decision.

Once you’ve made the decision to create a website, you might want to start looking for a website designer.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process:

  • Deciding if you need a website designer
  • Setting a budget
  • Looking for candidates
  • Reviewing website designer applications
  • Conducting interviews

How to Find a Website Designer

Before you start on your website project, the most important thing to do is to decide whether you actually need a website designer.

It’s worth putting some time aside to think through your needs and goals. Do you…

  • Need a new website built?
  • Need help updating your existing website?
  • Want someone to professionally create and design a website for you?
  • Want a designer to work remotely or in-house?
  • Need a freelance web designer or a full-time web designer?
  • Want to find someone who is both creative and technical, with an emphasis on the creative side?

If you’re looking for someone with in-depth tech skills in a specific area, you might need a web developer rather than a designer.

If this sounds like you, hiring a website designer might be the right choice for your business.

1. Decide Your Budget For Hiring a Website Designer

The next step in hiring a website designer is to decide on your budget.

At first, setting a budget might seem like a daunting task, especially as a business owner if you’ve never had a website professionally designed before. Rates for website design can vary widely, depending on the scope of your design project. Usually, you’ll need to contact a freelance designer or agency to get a quote.

As an example, a 2020 survey by WHSR estimated the initial cost of building a simple 10-page informational website as $200-$1500, while a more complicated site could cost as much as $10,000 for the development and design work.

Along with the cost of your website designer’s work, there are other recurring costs involved in maintaining a high-quality website. These include the website hosting, domain name, SSL certificate, and theme. Remember to account for those costs when planning your overall budget.

2. Decide on the Type of Website Designer You Need

Freelance Designers vs. Full-Time Designers

If you just need a custom website built for your business, you’ll probably want to hire a freelance designer or a design agency. Below, we’ll talk more about the ways to find and connect with freelancers.

In certain situations, you may need a full-time website designer. This makes sense if your business is planning on offering web design as a service, or if you have ongoing web projects that need to be worked on and maintained.

The Right Skills

Of course, not all website designers are created equal. Are there specific skills you should be looking for in a website designer?

If you’re planning to build a simple website for your business, the best way to decide if a designer has the skills and design services you need is to look at their portfolio. If you like their style and they’ve had good feedback from previous clients, they might be a good fit for you. In addition, if they offer any other services (such as ongoing technical support or SEO optimization), that would be a factor to consider as well.

If you have a more complicated project in mind, you may need to look for a specific type of designer. Perhaps you’re looking for someone to work with a content management system like Wordpress.org, or you need someone who’s particularly adept at a certain programming language. In that case, you’ll want to search for someone with that specific skill set.

3. Where to Find a Website Designer

There are many different places online to search for freelance and full-time website designers.  Here, you can see some of the most popular industry platforms. These mainly fall into three different categories:

Talent Networks

Talent networks offer clients the chance to work with a select group of freelancers. They tend to differ from freelance marketplaces, as candidates are heavily vetted. Some examples of talent networks are  Toptal and  Hired.com.

Freelance Marketplaces

Freelance marketplaces are similar to talent networks. They allow companies to connect with a wide range of freelancers at varying price points. Clients work with freelancers directly through the platform. Some examples of freelance marketplaces are  UpworkFiverr, and  Freelancer.

Design Communities

Online design communities are places where web and graphic designers can post their work and interact with other designers. Some of them also offer opportunities for hiring. A few popular design communities are  Dribbble and  Behance.

4. Create a Job Description

At the beginning of your hiring process, you’ll want to create a job description describing what the design skillsets you desire, and the qualifications you’re looking for in a good designer. A job description should be specific, accurately describe the role, and be clear about both what is needed from the design candidate, the desired skillsets, and what the company can offer in return.

Descriptions for full-time jobs are usually longer and more detailed, providing information about company culture, benefits, and desired experience. Freelance job descriptions serve more as a project brief; their goal is to make sure freelancers understand your expectations and business needs.

5. Review Website Design Portfolios

After creating your job description for a website designer, you’ll want to post it in communities and job boards where designers are likely to see it and contact you. The sites above are a great place to start. If hiring a freelancer, you can also reach out to them directly after having had a look at their portfolio.

When reviewing website designer portfolios, there are a few different things you’ll want to think about. Of course, the creativity and look of their past design work is an important consideration. Many designers have a distinct style, and it’s worth thinking carefully about what you want your website to look like before choosing one. These website design portfolios can give you an idea of what to expect.

You’ll also want to check if the designer has the skills you need. An understanding of responsive web design, web development, accessibility, and user experience are all important for a professional website designer to have. This experience includes understanding HTML, CSS, Wordpress, graphic design, and other parts of front-end development, such as JavaScript. If your project requires a specific tech stack, this is also something to check for on their portfolio or resume.

6. Review Designer Recommendations and Testimonials

There’s more to being a great website designer than just design skills and tech skills. Even the best web designer might be difficult to work with. Designers can be sensitive about their work, so it’s important to find someone who can take feedback and communicate professionally.

So, how can you find out a website designer that is great to work with? One way is by asking the right questions during the interview or initial consultation—we’ll talk more about that below. If you’re planning on hiring a full-time designer, you can also ask for recommendations from previous employers.

If you’re hiring a freelance website designer, the most common way to verify the quality of their work is through testimonials and deliverables. Many freelancers have client testimonials posted on their website or social media profiles. If the freelancer is working through a talent network or freelancer marketplace, you’ll probably be able to see feedback from past clients on those platforms.

7. Negotiate Web Design Rates

When deciding which designers to interview, you’ll want to have an idea of their rates, and whether these are aligned with your budget.

Most freelance website designers and agencies work on either an hourly or per-project basis. Working on an hourly rate offers more flexibility, while a per-project price ensures you’ll know what you’re spending right from the beginning. However, keep in mind that if you’re budgeting for a per-project rate, you’ll want to be very clear with your designer about what the project involves, to avoid any additional fees later.

If you’re hiring a full-time website designer, the negotiation process will be simpler—most full-time designers work on an annual salary. To give you an idea of what you can expect to pay, according to Payscale.com and Salary.com, the average salary for a US-based web designer is around $50,000.

Interviewing Designers

When hiring a website designer, you’ll probably have an initial meeting with them—either a traditional interview or a consultation call. Here are some questions you may want to ask during this meeting:

  • What are the most important skills for a web designer to have?
  • Tell me about the project that you’re most proud of.
  • What is your design process?
  • How do you respond to client feedback?
  • Which technologies do you typically use in your work, and why?

Conclusion: Which Website Designer is Right for You?

There are many factors that go into choosing a website designer. A small business creating their first website will have far different needs than a large corporation looking for an in-house designer. 

However, in general, here are a few important things to look for when hiring and managing designers:

• A good website designer should have solid communication skills, and should sound confident during the interview. 

• Top-level designers will likely already have proven experience, which you should see on their resume, testimonials, and previous client list. 

• They should also have a portfolio that appeals to your taste. 

• Finally, a professional designer should be knowledgeable about their field—this includes technical knowledge, design sense, and an understanding of web design best practices.