The number of professional web designers out there is growing more rapidly than ever, more because the resources and tools are made more available to them.
However, as it would be hard for these designers to land on the right company with the right job or contract, the same difficulty is shared also by businesses and clients looking for the most suitable candidate for the job.
Yes, talents are unlimited and each uniqueness is identifiable, but when it comes to a specific project, a specific guy must be hired.
Looking for and hiring a professional web designer is no easy task at all, but thankfully, we have been generously shared with a lot of good information as to how to pick up the best candidate for the job we so demand.
Prepare your budget, prepare your desk, because you are about to meet new guys after this article on how to hire a web designer. Ready? Take your pen and look at these notes.
1. The right type of web designer (A - Budget)
A volunteer? A neighbour? Or a professional? Knowing the type of your web designer will almost immediately identify the possible expectations you wanted to set.
Great talents has a cost, and if you are calling for a talent but are not willing to pay that big price, don’t expect to get big results as well, and worse, don’t expect them to work with you again the same way.
A good price—or even a good prize in return—is really a very strong motivator into getting what you want.
Artists are more enticed to work better with those who pay well and who treat them well, so be careful on what you can offer because it will filter your candidates probably to the wrong end.
2. The right type of web designer (B - Expertise)
Ask yourself first about the specific things you so require in a particular project. Do you only need a mock-up? Do you only need a static landing page? Do you need all pages to be designed? Do you have a separate individual to do the development? Do you need illustrations? Do you need only an assessment to a UX design? Do you need SEO? Do you need content written as well?
Asking all these questions to yourself will help you identify the specific skills you would require on a candidate. Web designers out there can only be technically graphic designers only, or probably digital illustrators.
Others call themselves as web designers even if they can only do well with coding and development.
Others are great with all trades—from setting up a CMS to domain listing and up to SEO.
It’s best, then, to ask the candidate about his skills and what he can do, but remember also to do a follow-up question like “Can you do this, (state your project’s specific goal or requirement)?” This is to let you know if your candidate can really handle the job as a whole, and to let you know early if an extra hand would be required for the project to meet its goals.
3. Ready to bite a contract
It is really hard and risky for you to get a candidate who is not used to or is not ready for a contract. A contract is a binding zone for both of you wherein all the rules, expectations, and parameters are set. It is also a security and even a legal tie to make both of you aware that expectations are not to be mistaken but should be met at expected costs.
However, you must also observe if your candidate is also flexible enough for some changes in agreements or terms. Flexibility with the contract is not technically a breach, but is rather a sign that both of you is lively welcoming better options and possibilities, all for the better good of the project as a whole.
4. One who goes the extra mile
A confident and capable web designer is but more than willing to share his thoughts and ideas to you. He would always want to make sure that before he leaves the project, it will work out just fine even if you as a client would do some minor revisions or editing. He would even be more than willing to teach you how things work, i.e., if you ask him to.
Be noted also as this parameter can also be discussed ahead during project orientation and contract discussion. Ask your candidate if he’s willing to assist you with future needs and questions. How about a consultation? Can he offer it free? Will he charge extra? How much? Can he file consistent project status reports? Should he be accessible in these span of months after the project is done? If he shows sign of willingness, then you can be at peace knowing that he enjoys what he does and what he offers, and you can be sure that he’s there not because of money alone.
It is still a strong argument these days if you really need a candidate with a proven track of work history, or would it be safe for you to hire an amateur one or a starter. Both have its pros and cons, but to give you a background:
Experienced web designers have more experience dealing with clients and even teammates. They also have established their own preferences and even their own techniques and styles in executing a creative step. They also have a better background with what’s working and what will not work, and they can do things faster and probably easier because of their mastery with their own workspace, tools, and resources.
However, having a range of experiences does not guarantee exceptional skills and qualities. A designer who has worked for years may get stuck with his own habits or routine of doing things, and may lose enthusiasm in learning new techniques, tools, or crafts. Being experienced, they would have more reasons to charge you a bigger price, and therefore you must be careful in assessing this candidate’s skills.
Amateur web designers or starters may not have a long list of work history, but it does not mean they are less capable. Inevitably, there are some starters out there who offered incredible outputs, better than those which can be offered by experienced competitors. Being starters as well, you can better expect them to be updated with the latest trends and practices, and you can better assume that their enthusiasm to the industry is at its peak. They can also have a better eye to details and instructions, more because they are trying to make themselves grow to meet certain criteria of qualifications.
But being starters, they can also be more prone to mistakes, and some steps may require a certain amount of time for testing and experimentations. They can also tend to play by the rules first more than ‘playing with the heart,’ and this means their designs may be so because ‘those are the rules.’
6. A healthy portfolio
Portfolios don’t have to come in the form of a website since not all designers do have their own websites; yes, it would be better if they have since there would be another asset to measure. A portfolio should essentially consist of at least of two groups of work: recent works and best works. Sometimes, what they only have is a collection of their best works. As long as it gives you enough variables to measure their capabilities, those portfolios should be fine.
For web designers specifically, you may need to ask if he/she can present you a live site that is proudly of his doing. Be careful though as to not get limited with what you see. For example, if you are fond of typography, and the portfolio does not portray that asset, you can actually ask the candidate if he is capable of it; ask a test work to gauge these other skills. Again, the important thing here is that, he is apt and ready for what your project requires.
7. One who is honest
Other than these, you can also ask if he’s willing and if he’s capable of doing other tasks outside of website development alone. Does your project require a stronger database? Does your website need a private SSL certificate? Ask if he knows and if he’s confident in dealing with these other areas about the web. If he’s not, then he must be vocal enough to let you know ahead, without leaving you false hopes and promises.
8. Technical knowledge
Website designers need to learn a lot of things other than simply laying elements out and entering the right code sequence. For example, the latest trends and practices as suggested or required by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) are all not to be missed nor ignored. How about the use of grids? How about the study of user experience? How about integrating company goals or objectives into design? How about a little background at least with SEO? How about responsive websites which is now going to be a real standard?
9. Awards, recognitions, and certifications
These three decorative elements on a resumé may sound very intriguing and appealing, but they do not always guarantee quality of the worker and his works. Check out the integrity of those awards and certificates: are these awards given by credible sources or reputed companies, or anyone can do a simple test and pass? Does the certification refer to an achievement, or simply to a membership? Do these companies leave their contact details so that you can verify all these information?
Other forms of recognitions may also come in words of mouth. Testimonials are very strong contenders in proving quality of work, and being references as well, you can always make sure by making a call to this previous employer or client, for example. If you knew the candidate via referral, then it is a very strong factor for hiring.
Remember that no two designers are alike, even if they are deemed as the best ones in town. Always base your hiring process on your project’s specific requirements or goals, and do not always be too idealistic as to make your candidates feel inferior or offended. Got a web design project to be done? It’s always your own call.