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How to Choose a Web Designer

How to Choose a Web Designer

Choosing a web designer or web design firm can be a difficult decision. Especially because you are relying on their talents to showcase your brand. I'm going to go over what to look for so you can make an educated decision. Being a web designer myself, I think that gives me a pretty unique perspective and one that is more beneficial than listening to the recommendations of other business you might know.


Probably the first question you want to ask is “How much will it cost” and unfortunately the designer or contact from the design firm will not be able to give you an answer. It isn’t because they want to nickel and dime it is it because they can’t really say without a lot more information. In fact, if they give you a number without really knowing anything about the project, it would be a red flag and I would be pretty wary of working with them. You wouldn’t ask a contractor how much a house costs without giving them the plans, dimensions, square footage, et cetera. A website is no different. It could take anywhere from 20 hours for a simple site to hundreds of hours for something very complex.

The best thing for you to do is tell the designer exactly what you need. Every little detail helps: which functionality you need, what design elements they will need to build and what content they will need to create. Also, give a list of what things you might want to add in the future or are optional at this point. Doing this now means they can build you a site with your future in mind. Also, a feature you though might be really expensive might actually be easy to add and affordable right away.

OK, So Now, How Much Does It Cost

If you have gotten quotes from a number of different designer you may notice a real discrepancy in price.

You get what you pay for.

Typically, young or new designer will be significantly cheaper than their experience counterparts. Going with a new design might be cheaper but you also run a risk of getting something below your expectations. An experience designer or firm will be more expensive but they have a lot of work under their belt. You can have more faith that they will get the project done and can give you exactly what you need. To make your decisions read the criteria I’ve written below and take all these things into consideration before picking the designer to go with. Price is one of many factors to consider.

Do You Like Their Design Work

If the design of your site is important than this should take precedent over price. Also, if you don’t have a logo or any branding material created and you need the web designer to create it, their design skills would again be more important than the price.

Their Website

You can find out a lot from looking at their website. Do you notice any typos or broken links. Attention to detail is important and if they can’t keep their own site working correctly I wouldn’t trust them to work on yours.

Can You See Your Brand in Their Work

Take a look at the work selection they display on their website and ask to see some other work samples that might be similar to your own project. Does the quality of their design work meet your expectations? If none of their samples really look good to you than it will be highly unlikely they can create the design you want. Also, designers and design firms can have a style or do a lot of similar projects. They might be able to create something drastically different from what their other work looks like but don’t count on it. If you need something very feminine and all their work samples are very corporate than maybe they aren’t the best option for you. If you find a sample of their work that looks like something similar to what your site will be like, make sure they did the design work or the designer who created it is still with the firm and specify that you wish to work with what designer on your project.


Do your homework before talking to any designers or design firms. Look at site that are similar to what you need and take note of how many and what pages they have. Is there any dynamic content like a news feed, photo galley, ecommerce or blog. Make a list of every feature you must have and those that might be optional.

Have They Demonstrated the Functionality Your Site Will Need

Take a look at the work samples of each design firm or designer and see if they have created this same functionality. If you need something complex like ecommerce, a web portal or a content management system, ask to see a demonstration of the software they use.

What Don’t You Like About the Sites They’ve Built

Is there anything you see on all their sites that really bugs you or just will not work for your site. Ask about it or if it is a deal breaker go with another designer.


Hopefully you aren’t on a tight deadline. A tight deadline does one of two things. It either makes the designer work faster so you might get less quality or they work longer hours to get the project done, typically increasing the price of the project. But if you have to get something done quickly then make sure to ask about it. They should be able to say if they can get the project done by your deadline and make sure to get it in the contract.

Down the Road

A website is not something you build and forget, it should be regularly updated. And wether you use a CMS to make updates or not you will still need to have someone with more design/technical skills to make certain updates. Make sure they will be able to get these done for you and how much they charge for updates, which should be an hourly rate.


Is it someone you can communicate with and work with. You are creating a relationship that might last for many years so make sure you are working with someone who understands your needs, goals and business objective.

Well I hope that was helpful to you. If you have any questions or other things you look for in finding a web designer I’d love to hear them.

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Couchable is a web design blog created by Tyler Herman. Not really updated anymore because I'm busy doing freelance design work and busy launching my little WordPress theme shop Real Theme Co. You can read a little more about my at my personal site