Hiring a web designer or digital agency can be a scary thing for many people, especially if they have been burned before on a previous project. In this article, I am going to give you 10 quick tips to help you hire the most qualified web designer or digital agency to take on your next project.
You want your project done within your deadline, you want it done within your budget, and you want to ensure your web designer or agency is well qualified to take on your project and do a fantastic job. Sounds like a challenging task right?
It’s easier than you think if you have a solid process for pinpointing the right person for the job.
Tip #1 – Look for a Designer or Agency With a Well Defined Process
When you start searching for web designers or digital agencies to take on your next project, make sure they have a well defined process, or plan of attack for approaching new projects like yours. A great designer or agency should explain a bit about their process on their website, and at the very least they should be able to give you a general overview of their process if you ask them.
If they cannot tell you their process, then that should be a huge red flag. We like to jump on a skype call with our clients to explain our process and how it will be customized according to their project and needs.
Tip #2 – Avoid Flat Rate Pricing That Lacks a Scope Of Work or Proposal
If you post your project on social media platforms like facebook, you will quickly notice there are a lot of people saying they will take on your project, no questions asked. If someone says they will take on your project without talking with you first, and without gathering more specific details, you should avoid them like the plague unless you want to risk having a horrible experience, and wasting your money.
A few questions to ask yourself:
- Do they care about my long term success, or are they just interested in making a quick buck?
- Do they truly care about my project, brand, or product I would like to develop?
- Do they really have the capability to deliver a quality end result on a flat rate, without digging really deep into my needs, goals, objectives, and opportunities without knowing the amount of time and resources needed to complete the project successfully within budget and deadline?
There are many more questions you could ask, but this should give you a general idea of the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself and your potential designer or agency.
To give you some perspective from an agency point of view… I am afraid to take on a project on a flat rate without knowing the goals, objectives, and needs upfront. Of course, I can give a rough estimate in a proposal for cost, time, and deliverables, but unless I do a detailed analysis of the needs, goals, objectives, and more to put together a detailed scope of work, complete with all the tasks, features, time and materials, pages, content and more, I cannot give an exact number of hours and cost, because it could easily turn into a suicide mission.
The last thing you want is for your designer or agency to burn through your entire budget 25% of the way through your project. You want someone that will take the time to accurately forecast hours and cost so you have a fairly good idea upfront what it’s going to cost and when it is expected to be completed. Of course it will never be 100% accurate due to many variables, and the client almost always changes something, or multiple things after the contract has already been negotiated, but a great web designer or digital agency will take the time to do a detailed scope of work to forecast time and cost.
Tip #3 – Beware Of Blind or Desperate Bids
Even when clients come to us with a new project, and they say for example…. We have a $35,000 budget, and we need xyz, I typically require at least a couple of meetings before I am willing to say I will take on their project. I know from experience that I need to qualify clients first before taking them on to make sure we are a good fit to work together.
We need to make sure we are on the same page, we get along and communicate well, you have a good enough understanding of your own business, and that you have goals and objectives for your business and online presence. Of course I also make sure you have enough budget for the project so we don’t waste each other’s time.
Tip #4 – You Get What You Pay For
Many people think they need to find the lowest price possible, so they find an overseas developer, and they quickly get frustrated with the language barrier problems, the developer not truly understanding their wants and needs, timezone problems, and they developer being under qualified such as lacking design or project management skills.
It’s best to find someone with the capability to handle all phases of the project from research and strategy to design, project launch, support, marketing, analytics, optimization, etc. It comes at a higher price, but the value you get in terms of meeting goals, solving problems, improving ROI, etc far exceeds the initial investment.
Tip #5 – Find Someone On The Same Wavelength
Make sure the web designer or digital agency you hire is on the same wavelength as you. What I mean by that is that you communicate well, you have a similar mindset, and you both have the same idea of the goals and objectives of the project. A good web designer or agency will quickly ask you questions like this….
- What is your reason for wanting a new website, or redesign?
- Are users encountering problems with your site?
- What are your primary goals and objectives?
- What actions do you want users to take?
- Do you have specific requirements for your project?
These are just a few basic questions a good web designer or digital agency will ask before just blurting out that they will take your project and slap a price on it.
Tip #6 – Be Specific About What You Need
Web designers and digital agencies are not mind readers. We are pretty skilled at digging around and bringing your goals and objectives to the surface through research and needs discovery sessions, but it definitely helps you and the creative professional save time and money if you already know what you want.
When a client brings me a new project with their goals and objectives, I typically like to do additional research on competitors, and end users of the site to see if I can solve any immediately apparent problems, or bring any additional value to their project to give them a competitive edge, but it always helps save time and money if we have as much info upfront as possible.
Tip #7 – Find A Designer Or Agency With A User Centric Approach
Unlike many other web designers or agencies that just make things look pretty, we are much more concerned about creating a wonderful user experience. After all, we aren’t building the site for the client, but rather the customers that will actually be using the website, app or web interface.
We conduct user research, interviews, usability testing, and other exercises like card sorting to develop a great information architecture and user flow so people using your interface find info the are looking for as quickly and easily as possible.
When you build an interface that your users enjoy, you are much more likely to convert those visitors into customers instead of them getting frustrated and leaving to visit your competitor site where they find the info they are looking for easier.
Tip #8 – Read The Reviews and Check Their Work
A great web designer or digital agency will have some reviews or testimonials, so you get an idea of how good their client feedback is. You might find this on their website, google + page, their facebook page, or their linkedin profile. If you can’t find any feedback from their clients, it doesn’t mean they do bad work, maybe they just didn’t take the time to ask for reviews.
However, if you find a web designer or agency that cares enough about their clients that they take the time to ask for reviews and build case studies detailing their client’s success, you know they really care about showing off their work and client feedback.
At the very least, you designer or agency should have some examples of their work in their portfolio or collection of case studies. If you cannot find some good examples of their work, chances are they are either a newbie, or they don’t do great work.
Tip #9 – Make Sure They Use Good Project Management
There are may moving parts and variables involved in a typical design and development project. A few things involved in a typical project include: client needs discovery, competitor research, user research and interviews, information architecture & project scoping, wireframing, user interface design, building clickable prototypes, iterations, copywriting & content generation, graphic design, coding & development, and many more processes within the project depending on how big the project is and if it’s a new brand, or a redesign for an existing brand or interface.
The best web designer or digital agency for your particular project will be taking advantage of a project management system or at the very least have a process in place for managing projects. It should really be a combination of both.
Depending on the project, we take either a waterfall or agile approach to project management to ensure we meet deadlines, stay as close to budget and scope as possible, and keep the team motivated to produce an effective product that solves problems, and meets goals.
We combine this with project management systems like Freedcamp, Trello, Asana & Jira to manage tasks, teams, deadlines, files, conversations, issues, and more. We have project managers that setup all the tasks inside our project management software, and manage the project from beginning to end to make sure they team meets deadlines and the project runs smoothly.
A great project manager will constantly be re-evaluating tasks, deadlines, features and more to re-prioritize task according to importance. These things lead to leaner more efficient & productive project.
Tip #10 – Find A Web Designer Or digital Agency That Adds Value
An amazing website designer or digital agency will take the initiative to add value that goes above what you originally asked for. When we submit a proposal for a new project, we always work diligently in our research and strategy to develop very unique features or systems that solve key problems so that our proposal stands out from any other proposals you might have received from our competitors. We do our best to make it very clear to you who the best choice is simply by the value we deliver, and I personally am addicted to creating ah-ha moments.
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