(Some) Tips When Hiring a Freelance Website Designer

“ My website designer stopped answering my emails!”

I’ve heard this phrase many times from customers who are either reaching out for a quote or have hired me to re-design their business website. It surprises me that this behavior is so pervasive, but also makes me think twice before I move forward with the customer. There are always two sides to a story, after all.

The anecdote inspired me to think of some “best practices” when working with your freelance web designer. I also want to share some best practices I use when designing custom websites for my customers.

  • Coming to the table ready for business

My customers come from all backgrounds, and all have unique needs. I’ve designed a website for a custom print business. I’ve also designed a website for a corporate coaching company. Both customers had one thing in common…they had no clear idea what they wanted from their business website. Website designs can take a lot of time and effort. If a potential customer doesn’t know what color scheme they want on their website, doesn’t have a logo or doesn’t know what design they like…that time can be expensive.

Best practice: Come to the table with 3 websites you like. Be sure to have an idea for the text you’d like on the website, and some images that can be used. I you have a logo….even an old one, still bring that to the table. Also, have an idea for how many pages you’d like to include on website. (Typical websites have a home, contact, about and services page.)

  • Life gets busy

Your life gets busy….my life gets busy. We all get it. However, your website designer should at the very least be checking in with you on a weekly basis. They should also provide a timeline for start/completion of your new website. I use Trello to create a project board where customers can view the progress I’m making on their custom website. When I design a website on a CMS platform like Wordpress, I email full-page PDF screenshots so the customer can provide feedback. Freelance web designers are most likely juggling a few projects at a time, but that doesn’t excuse the need to provide consistent customer service! You’re paying them, afterall…

Best practice: Website designers should always keep you in the loop. Not responding to emails or not updating you on the status of your website is bad customer service. If you’re a local business, it’s a good idea to meet your web designer at the beginning and end of the project to touch base.

  • Understanding that time equals money

It takes time to design a website. And also, a freelance website designer is usually managing more than one project at a time. (Small businesses still have big web hosting bills to pay!) You might think you’ve paid a pretty penny to have your website designed. What you don’t see are the extra little pieces that a designer does for you. (I include 1 month free maintenance post website design!)

Best practice: Try and compartmentalize all of your questions and feedback in one email thread. Start a new email thread for separate topics so your comments stay organized. Feedback and request changes across multiple communication platforms will get lost so make a plan with your web designer for how to best communicate any content changes or text updates.

  • Ghosting on your web designer

Ghosting customer…where did things go wrong? Was it me…I sure hope not! I don’t have the answer for why some of my customers disappear mid-way through a project (after paying!), but they do. Life happens…and we all deal with the mental roller-coaster differently. If you’ve had an unexpected life change, make sure to give your website designer a heads up that you will be busy and website design for your restaurant isn’t a priority. Hit me on Whatsapp if you’re traveling the world and your custom designed blog isn’t ready because you’ve been too busy to provide feedback for text changes on the homepage.

Best practice: Form a communication plan early in your conversations and make sure to note any expected life obligations. If you are taking a prolonged break due to illness or an unexpected tragedy, ask a family member or friend to send an email to your designer. We want to give you the best service we can and are flexible when life gets in the way.

Axess Web Design

Axess Web Design is a Seattle Web Design and SEO Marketing freelance company for small and medium sized businesses. We specialize in custom web design on content management systems (CMS) like SquareSpace, Shopify and Wordpress to construct mobile friendly, easy-to-edit, template-based sites for your business. Contact us for your custom website needs!