How to Decide which Website Designer is Right for You

I’ve noticed more clients and prospective clients shopping their website projects lately. I’m sure this has something to do with the economy. I also suspect that the average website owner is more experienced, thus less intimidated by web-speak.

Whatever the case, it makes me wonder how such decisions are made. Being a web designer, puts me on the other side of the desk. So I find myself thinking about what factors would be key to my decision?

I guess first and foremost would be personal rapport. No matter how big or small the website project is to be, I want to work with someone I can talk to and, if necessary, criticize. I’d also need to feel that the web designer is shooting straight with me. He’s not afraid to tell me no and explain why my thought or idea is not a good one.

Next, I would look at price. This is a little more difficult because I know how crazy web pricing can be. But let’s say I did my homework and I only talked to web designers who specialized in jobs with similar scope as mine. This should eliminate some of the big price differences you can get when you approach designers who specialize in different size projects.

So what am I looking for when comparing prices? First, the scope of the project must be correctly defined and the proposals need to use a similar definition. Next, if there are substantial differences – say more than a couple of hundred dollars – ask why. Finally, look at recurring fees (i.e. hosting). This is especially important if you require something more than a static website that can be hosted anywhere.

Finally, I’m going to call references. Since I sit on the other side of the desk, I know how critical it is to know what his or her clients have to say. Ask the references about the website job. Look at the website in question. Ask – very important – how long the reference has worked with the designer. Remember, you are about to enter a long term relationship. Ask how prompt the web designer is when it comes to changes, especially after launch. Ask how the designer accepts criticism.

At this point I’m ready to make a decision. AND, negotiate price. What does that mean? Well if the guy you like is a little higher in price, show him the other quotes. Ask if he can do it for less. Believe it or not, he’ll respect you for it. If not, you might want to go with number two.


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