Hiring A Designer

By Jessica Warren - Designer/Artist

Five Common Mistakes hiring a web designer.

Hiring a Designer 5 Common Mistakes

I work for a lead service, connecting clients and designers every day. I have also been doing design for 15+ years. In my position I see the mistakes made by both designers and clients. Hopefully, if you are looking for a designer, this article will help you avoid making some of these common mistakes.

1. Don't judge a book by its cover

A professional looking website does not guarantee that the company is qualified to handle your project. Many companies offer impressive looking websites, with very vague or generic information. Look specifically for pages like Testimonials and Meet The Team. Take notice if the person you are talking to on the phone is the same person that is on the website. Look for examples of projects that have been successfully completed, read the details in their "Case Studies" and ask to speak to former clients. Find out how long they have been in business, and check them out with the Better Business Bureau website.

2. Do not depend on a referral to guarantee a designer

Often clients ask me what qualifications we require of the designers who sign up to use our service. We can remove designers from our website if they have been reported to the BBB, or if we have received several verified complaints, however, we do not offer any guarantees of the designers who use our service.

Just as if you had done a search through google, you will want to thoroughly investigate each company you are considering. Different lead services have their own way of operating. Be sure to read each lead services policies.

We do allow our users to rate the designer after using their service. Many designers have several ratings listed on their profile.

--> Need a designer? Post your project on DesignQuote and compare free quotes.

3. Don't rush through project planning

Once you have done your research and you are confident that you have found the right designer for your project, you are ready to move forward. Create a basic written description of your project to the best of your ability. Clients frequently want to describe their project over the phone. Important requests get overlooked or forgotten, and then you have a case of "your word against theirs". Put everything in writing. Using email makes it easy. Make sure you describe everything you want in one email, instead of spreading it out over 3 or 4 emails.

For example your project description may sound like this:

I am looking for a website designer to develop my new site. I need help with hosting. I would like to be able to edit the copy on the website myself. I will need custom graphics created for my website. My site will have 4 main pages. About Us, Order, Contact Us & Gallery. I will need to set up a shop to sell products on my site as well. I need help with social media, like linking my site to facebook, twitter and instagram.

Once you have communicated to the designer what you are looking to accomplish, expect to receive something close to the following:

1. A detailed outline of the project broken down into phases and/or tasks.
2. A time estimate based on the project outline.
3. A ballpark figure based on the information provided.

4. Never pay for all of it up front!

You may be confident in your developer, maybe it's your daughter's husband developing it for you and you trust him with your life. Still, do not pay for all of the work up front.

Let's say your total comes to $3000.00. Just like you break the project up into phases, you should also break up your payments. Below is an example. You may choose to break it up more or less depending on your specific needs. See how much graphic designers earn in your state.

Here is a rough idea of how your proposal/contract will look with a deadline of January 1, 2016

Proposal Example:

PHASE I (5hrs)
Consultation & Research (Via email and/or phone)
Hosting Setup
WordPress Theme Installation
Plugin Installations
Login & Basic Setup

PHASE II (20hrs)
Consultation & Research Part 2(Via email and/or phone)
Implementing Design
Custom Graphics
CMS Setup
Site Menu Setup
Header & Artwork Setup
Subpage Template
1 set (completed list) of revisions.

PHASE III (20hrs)
Consultation & Research Part 3(Via email and/or phone)
Social Media Integration
Photo Gallery
WordPress Overview
Assist in overseeing insertion of site copy & graphics.
Assist in any copy formatting issues.
1 set (completed list) of revisions.

PHASE IV (20hrs)
Online Shop
Beta Testing
Testing Cross Platforms, Mobile, Windows, Mac, ie, Chrome, etc

Payment: 50% Down 50% Upon Completion Per Phase

Phase I: 5hrs $50hr =$250
$125. Due 10-28-15 (upon receipt) / $125.00 Due 11-1-15 (or upon completion)

Phase II: 20hrs $50 =$1000
$500. Due 11-1-15 (upon receipt) / $500.00 Due 11-15-15 (or upon completion)

Phase III: 20hrs $50 =$1000
$500. Due 11-15-15 (upon receipt) / $500.00 Due 11-30-15 (or upon completion)

Phase IV 20hrs $50 =$1000
$500. Due 12-01-15 (upon receipt) / $500.00 Due 12-15-15 (or upon completion)

5. Technology changes, code can be finicky and time estimates are really "guesstimates"

Make sure that your website completion deadline is at least 15 days before your "real" deadline. So if you are looking to launch January 1st, make your deadline December 15th.

It is impossible for even the most experienced designer to foresee every possible (aka probable) technical difficulty that is bound to arise.

Each project is so very different that it is difficult to give exact scenarios of things that could take longer than expected, however here are a few off the top of my head.

Keep in mind that all cost estimates and time estimates are given with the best of intentions, based on the information that is available at the time. Rarely do things run without a hitch, especially in web design. Asking for "little changes" adds to both the time and cost. Be prepared. Account for it as much as possible in advance.

Look at it like you would when planning to drive to the airport. On the map you can see that it should take twenty minutes to reach the airport. However, you have to take into consideration that there will certainly be traffic, and possibly accidents, road blocks and other unforeseen obstacles along the way. You allow two hours for your commute so that you will arrive on time for your flight.

Keeping these items in mind as you enter into a relationship with a designer will help the process run more smoothly for everyone. Best of luck with your project and happy designer hunting!

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About the author: Jessica is an artist and designer living in the San Francisco East Bay Area.

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