Three Questions to Ask Before you Hire a Web Designer

November 11, 2014

Connect Member

Personal Brand Development Expert

kristendomingue.com

So many people ask me about what should be on their website since they know I do brand development work for entrepreneurs. But before we even get to what belongs on the site, there are a few things you need to know (and before you hire a designer too.) These 3 things have saved my clients thousands of dollars and a ton of time.

1. Does their aesthetic fit yours?
You would never go to Diane Von Furstenburg and get upset that the design she created was too “Helmut Lang.” Or walk into AllSaints and expect to walk out as if you had shopped in Anthropologie. Yet I see frustrated business owners make this mistake all the time.

Pro-Tip: Know that designer’s “design aesthetic” BEFORE you invest.
Every designer worth their salt has a “design voice” that’s unique to them. Like every artist has their particular “style,” designers do too.

There is a design range within which they do their best work. Here are some tips to consider as you are selecting who you will work with on design:

  • How closely have you observed their portfolio?
  • Does what you want for yourself fit within the range of what they’ve already created?
  • Can you see your webpage proudly displayed in their portfolio? Would it fit?
  • Are they currently (or have they ever) created design work that is in alignment of what you want to see as your brand?

If any of these are a no, it’s time to look for another designer.

Consider these design guidelines:
Above-the-knee skirt, sleeveless top, not too form-fitting, black and white, with a pop of orange color.

Sounds pretty specific, right?

But as you can see, the design aesthetic of different designers (Diane von Furstenberg & Helmut Lang) will mean the instructions are interpreted in different ways.

2. Does their work style work with yours?
This is a question of control. Do you want 100% creative control? Do they? Do you want daily updates? Or do you prefer only to look at final drafts? Do you want to co-create with your designer? Or do you prefer that they execute on your vision? Who is in the driver’s seat in the process? Ask these questions before you begin the engagement to make sure it’s a fit for you.

These things make a difference. And knowing the answer before you begin the design process will make a difference in how long the engagement is and what you ultimately invest.

3. Do you know yourself?
Do you know your purpose? Your message? Your market? Do you know what your market wants to see, hear and feel when they come to your site with their problem? These are Stages 1 and 2 of brand development. (See my article on Brand Clarity and Brand Alignment.) The clearer you are with these things, the more satisfied you will be with the final result of your design investment. And ultimately, the less time it will take.

If you’re considering working with a designer, my suggestion is to test-drive before you go in for the full investment on a new site. See if they can design something smaller, like a power point template, template for stationary, handouts you use with clients, sales page for a program or a logo for a project. And if it becomes apparent that all 3 parts here are a “go” then proceed to having them design your website. If any one of these pieces isn’t fully fitting together with the rest, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.  

Have you recently done your site? What do you wish someone had told you before you began the design process? And if you’re a designer, I’d love to hear — what do you WISH your clients knew before they signed up to work with you?  

Kristen Domingue is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.

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