There are thousands of Web designers. How do you decide what makes one designer better than another designer?
Experience Isn’t Everything
Most people will tell you that the most important thing is experience. A designer who doesn’t have a lot of experience, they’ll tell you, can’t give you the quality that an experienced designer can. I don’t agree. While experience can be useful, it can also be a drawback. Just because a designer has less experience doesn’t mean that he or she can’t build a beautiful site for you.
Before you base your decision solely on how many sites they’ve built or how long they’ve been in business, think about this:
- Many long-time designers are stuck in their habits and might not be willing or able to give you a cutting edge website (if that’s what you want).
- Younger designers are more likely to have gone to school to get a Web design degree. While this isn’t vital either, it does tell you that this person has academic knowledge that an older designer might only have through practice.
Take Note: If a designer says they’ve been building websites since before 1995, they are almost definitely exaggerating. When I started working on the Web in 1998, very very few people had even heard of the Web, let alone had set up a business. I was working within an IT department in a large company, which is the only reason I was involved with it at that time.
Ask to See Their Portfolio
While experience might not be important, having a good portfolio is. You shouldn’t be as concerned with whether the portfolio is made up of live sites, so much that the examples show diversity and range for the designer. Ask to see the portfolio online so that you can see how the websites they’ve built actually work. This is especially important if you’re looking for a designer to build any type of interactivity for your website.
Some people will tell you that the way the potential Web designer’s personal site looks is a good measure of how good a designer they will be. But I disagree with this too. While I do think having a good Web design business site is important. I don’t think that it’s a good indicator of how well they would design your site. Most designers design their business site when they’re not working on paying jobs. And if they have tons of time to modify their business site, then they don’t have a lot of experience, do they? But they might have a good portfolio. So you have to judge for yourself.
What Skills Do They Have or Offer
To assess this in a Web designer, you need to know what you need on your website. This can be hard. But some skills that they should definitely know include:
And it would be good if they know or can bring in as a sub-contractor someone who knows PHP, Flash, Ajax, SEO, content writing, and graphics creation. Also a web designer that does not try to blind or confuse with jargon and is personable and a customer person is a great bonus.
The best way to assess this is to speak with them.