Bazinga! You finally have the budget to redo your website the right way. This is an exciting time for you. But if you're honest with yourself, you don't know how to take this next step. You need to hire a web designer online. But, where do you start?
This situation is far too common. Even worse, getting it wrong is remarkably easy. I have come across many clients that chose their previous web designer based on silly things. Here are some of the kooky qualifications people use to hire a web designer:
The web designer was the CEO's nephew.
The web designer was an attorney who took a course in college 10 years ago about IT.
The web designer was super cheap to hire.
The web designer was "really good with technology".
The web designer showed me how to use my phone.
You can't make this up. But I know you could guess the outcome of these projects. Disastrous web projects start at who you hire.
Disastrous web projects start at who you hire. Learn how to get it right.
Let's take a glimpse at the right ways to hire a web designer online.
Look at the staff
If you are serious about your website project going well, you need to work with an agency. No single person can be an expert in every single following facet:
quality coding / development
contracts / legal
SEO (technical and non technical)
team code reviews
website migration and setups
... and the list goes on and on. It's evident you need a team behind you.
Start at their website. Look at their team. Heck, research the individuals. Social media is a gold mine of knowledge when it comes to a person. You want web design team members that are passionate, knowledgeable and professional.
Do they eat their own dog food?
That's a wondrous phrase I've heard through the years. But this one is simple. If you want a custom website, how does theirs look? If you want SEO, did you find them with SEO? If they can't get their own website found online, how can they help you? These are all questions to ask yourself. But finding the answers is easy, thank goodness.
Search for national terms
This rings true for the 'online' part of this blog post title. Web design companies that you find online that aren't local to you will be more credible on average. Google is no dummy! They know to show results that are good. If you live in Pittsburgh and stumble on an agency from Texas or Minnesota, chances are you have a keeper.
The way to do this is to type in terms like "custom web development company" without any city or state next to it. If you add the term "US" to your search, you get more national search results.
Watch out for "Top 10" lists
You may not read this on other web designers blogs, but this is a gem. I hope you take this to heart! On your search, you will come across websites titled "Top SEO companies", "Top US based web designers" and "Top 50 website agencies". Our industry has made it near impossible to trust any of these resources anymore.
You see, most of these "lists" don't give a good effort in researching or vetting candidates. Quite literally, you can buy your way onto most of these lists. It's snake-oil salesman way of using a now "snaky" deception technique. They could be tricking you into thinking they won some special award. Even worse, they could be tricking you into thinking they have been handpicked. Eew.
Be a social media investigator
I also mention this in an old post about avoiding web agencies that are smoke and mirrors. The first thing you should do is research the CEO on LinkedIn. Check out his or her connections. You will learn a lot by see what type of people the CEO connects with.
Business CEOs should just flat out be on LinkedIn, but especially in a B2B market. Guess what, that website you want falls in that category. You need a B2B expert to work with. I'll say it again, peek around on LinkedIn.
Also, check the other core social media platforms as well. That includes Facebook, Twitter and Google +. Look for red flags. Then confront the agency about it. You'll get to see who you're dealing with in a hurry.
Analyze their portfolio
Aside from checking out the online web designers website, check out the portfolio. You can expect similar work. If their designs have a lot of similarities, you can bet your bottom dollar yours will have those too.
Aside from just design, make sure they have worked with people in your industry. It's not a bad thing if they haven't, but it's a bonus if they have.
Do a phone call
A phone call can tell you a lot about a person. You both control the conversation in a phone call. Form responses and emails can be carefully crafted.
But a call tells you so much more, without crafting. You can see reactionary inflections in the person's tone. Within 4 seconds, you should have a gist of their personality. Take that brief time and see if the person is calm and collected, a polished salesman or a hot-head.
Enjoy the journey
Hiring a web designer online may seem like a complicated journey. It isn't. You just have to do some homework towards the beginning. Once you've made your decision, based on your gut (not budget), this is where you can relax a little.
After you've picked the right web agency online, that is when you let them please you. Watch them exercise their strengths with you. Work together as a team and you'll see this unmistakable fact. Hiring a web designer online was the best business decision you've made.