Finding a great local website designer can be tricky. That’s why in our last few articles we have discussed all the possible reasons you may need to hire a web designer, and whether you should hire local or extend your search overseas.
It doesn’t matter if you are building a brand, improving a brand, or simply want to get up and running on the Internet, you’ll want to choose your website designer carefully. This is because choosing a website designer is a lot like entering into a dating relationship: you want to make sure you’re getting the best.
There is an old joke that when two people enter into a dating relationship, they don’t actually meet the other person, they “meet their representative.” This simply means that because they’re trying to establish the relationship, they withhold their true selves, their true personalities, their true abilities until they have the relationship all sown up.
How many times have you heard that someone fibbed about their salary, their academic degree, their connections, or their true intentions in order to land a boyfriend or girlfriend? The truth eventually came out, but by then the damage was done.
The same goes for entering a relationship with a website designer. In the beginning, the designer will be all smiles and will probably say “Yes” to everything you ask for, knowing full well that he or she cannot possibly deliver, or worse, has no idea what you’re talking about. That’s why it’s important to talk to several website designers and try to determine what sets each of them apart from the rest.
You may not be entering a long-term relationship like the dating example described above, but it’s still a relationship that you are only entering because the website designer has spoken the words you want and need to hear to believe that he or she can fulfill your needs.
Hopefully, this article will help you to avoid the mistake of “choosing the wrong one.”After all, you want your partnership with your new website designer to be as pleasant and stress-free as possible. You want to see amazing results. You want to come away smiling.
To get these results, you must make sure that you and the new designer have an understanding of what you need and expect, and that he or she possesses the talent and creativity to give it to you. In other words, you need to know the attributes of a great website designer.
Before we delve into these attributes, let’s review a bit:
Ask for referrals
In our last few articles, we advised you to begin your search for a new website designer by thinking of friends, family or business acquaintances who have a great website and then interviewing them about the experience, the time frame, and the cost.
We also advised that you think of some websites you might have stumbled across that you really like, and then study them for functionality, user interface, user experience, and any desirable special features that you would love to implement on your own site.
You may find a site that does not belong to a friend or family member, yet it may seem perfect for your own use. In this case, you won’t know who to ask about the website designer. Just be aware that often you can scroll down to the very bottom of a website, where designer information may be displayed on or near the footer.
If the designer’s name is there, you can click to see if there’s a hyperlink that takes you to the designer’s website, and you can then contact them from there.
Run a search
Also in our previous article, we encouraged you to run a search for “top” website designers to begin the vetting process for choosing the right individual designer or design company to complete your project. If you live in the Los Angeles area, we encourage you to type the phrase “Los Angeles web design companies” in your favorite search engine.
This should return a rich listing of Los Angeles designers for you to choose from, including WebFour.net (www.Webfour.net) which was founded to “provide expert web design and digital marketing services,” especially WordPress website designs for new and existing businesses.
Be thorough in your search. You need to know the attributes and qualities of a great website designer so that you actually know you’re getting just that when you finally make your choice. Remember, there are plenty of sites out there, but as the old saying goes, “Let the buyer beware.” This means it’s up to you to make sure you know what you’re getting for your money.
This should bring us up to date with how to get referrals or run blind searches for website designers. Now on to the next step of determining the attributes of a great website designer.
Just what is a good web design?
Have you ever stumbled across a website that was so well put together and so much fun to surf that it made you never want to leave? Have you ever landed on a site where the colors spoke to you? Or where the layout was so intuitive that you instinctively “knew” how to use all the features even though it was your first time on the site, and you dreamed of having a website that could function that way?
If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it means you probably landed on a site that was created by a website designer with all the right attributes. Let’s discuss these websites that make you never want to leave once you land on them so that you have a good idea what type of designer is needed to create them.
Several professional website design studios have their own ideas about the elements that must be included in an excellent website. According to Orbit Media Studios’ Nick Haas, an excellent website design “puts the user first, uses white space, color and other visual elements, directs attention to ‘calls to action,’ optimizes images and copy for the web, and perhaps most important of all, converts visitors.”
David Sieren, Creative Director of One Design Company, says that his company “emphasizes the importance of emotion in every interactive experience.” He goes on to say that his company’s users “are humans, and humans have an innate need to connect. The strongest interactive experiences understand and embrace this.”
There are many more experts out there, each with his or her own ideas about what makes an expert website design. Even though they all may have their own pet peeves about good versus mediocre, most of them agree on the basic elements of an excellent design. The following list summarizes these basic elements, and should give you enough to work with as you begin to think about the attributes your expert website designer should have:
Summary of the elements of an excellent website design:
- Puts users first.
- Understands the proposed content.
- Understands the way a user should be interacting with the site.
- Uses white space, color and other visual elements correctly.
- Directs attention to calls to action.
- Optimizes images and copy.
- Blends emotion into every interactive experience.
- Captivates the audience.
- The design feels effortless.
This is definitely NOT an exhaustive list. Use these elements as a guide as you interview different website designers.
Attributes of a great web designer
Knowing the elements of a great website design gives us an idea of at least some of the attributes a website designer must have in order to deliver such a product. Obtaining some type of computer science degree would probably be useful, as well as gaining knowledge in the various computer languages.
Also, a great designer should understand visual hierarchy, as well as proportion and ratio. However, note that since these are also the skills that a graphic designer possesses, it’s important for anyone searching for a great designer to make sure they’re dealing with a website designer and not a graphic designer. The two fields are very different.
The truth is, there are probably as many “attributes” as there are website designers out there, so we have tried to narrow our findings to a minimum of seven. Here they are:
- It goes without saying that you want your website designer to be experienced. You definitely don’t want to be his or her guinea pig, right? Plus, it’s not enough that your website designer have experience creating excellent web designs. According to the Young Entrepreneur Council, your website designer should be a people person. “If your developer doesn’t have previous experience working with clients, that’s going to be a problem. Previous experience working with clients means [he or she]will have an existing process and workflow in place, which creates a much smoother experience for you.”
- A Team Player. Author Arfa Mirzah of Tutsplus.com says that “being a good team player means understanding your role in the larger scheme of things, and being helpful to others – as the old saying goes: two heads are always better than one.” In other words, an expert designer doesn’t treat your project like it’s all up to him or her and you don’t know what you’re talking about. He or she is not too proud to accept assistance from other team members if some of the elements of the website design are out of his or her reach.
- Is Interested in Client Feedback. One of the key characteristics of a successful business person is the ability to understand that he or she is not perfect and can make mistakes just like anyone else. Author Arfa Mizrah says that “having a good eye in pointing out mistakes in [his or her]own work is a quality that success-oriented web designers should possess.
- Research and planning. Author Arfa Mirzah says that although many website designers skip the planning phase of creating websites, a little bit of planning can go a long, long way toward creating the perfect design. He says, “pre-design planning saves your time, money and resources…and it can help inspiration come faster.”
- Doesn’t make users think too much. The Creative Blog Staff says that an expert website designer knows that “the more effort a user must put into figuring out how to use an interface, the less they’ll enjoy it (even if the system works extremely well once learned).”
- Stays current on today’s technology. A great website designer “needs to be technologically in tune with the changes in the industry.” He or she should make it their business to find out what’s trending
There are thousands of website designers out there. Choosing one among the multitude is like setting out to choose the perfect mate. It takes time, conversation, perseverance, prayer–and perhaps most important of all, a refusal to settle for just anything–to find the right one. But it will be worth it in the end.