How do I go about picking a website designer? We get asked this often. Many of our clients are inventors and first time entrepreneurs and need to start or improve their websites. When hiring a website marketer/designer, how can you be sure they can really do what they say they can? When you are hiring or recommending a website designer, the minimum checking you should do is to assess their technical skills and people skills. This article will show you how to assess the technical skills and people skills of a website designer/marketer.
When picking a website designer, remember that creating and putting up a website does not require much in the way of technical skill. There are free (and paid) website builder software tools and services. Some of these website builder tools and services even include content generators. Our host (WordPress) has about 500 new free websites created every day. Nearly anyone can create and put up their own website. If you can enter text and pick photos or graphics, you can create and put up a website.
Getting your website to show up on page one of the search engines (Baidu, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google, Yahoo, etc.) is a completely different matter. In addition to being created and up (online), having a popular or easily found website will require some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order to be listed at or near the top of the search results. The technical skills a website designer or marketer should have are SEO skills. Read about finding a skilled website designer/marketer below.
Finding Evidence of Technical Skills for SEO
A website designer/marketer should be able to create and put up a website. When picking a website designer, it is the SEO skills that differentiate the good ones from the bad ones. SEO skills are skills such as: 1) making a website that is accessible and looks and works pretty much the same on all sizes and types of screens (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, workstations); 2) making a website that loads quickly; and 3) making a website that is search engine friendly both technically and ranking high in the search results.
Highly skilled website designers and marketers with SEO skills charge fees in the $40 – $100/hour range. Picking a website designer based only on cost is not a recommended best practice.
Check Out the Marketer’s/Designer’s Website
Would you hire a car mechanic that did not own any tools? Of course not. When picking a website designer, your future marketer/designer should have a nice looking site with examples of their work and links to client sites they have done. Most of them look similar – menu across the top with some full screen image and a few words/action buttons as the entry screen followed by a few rows of images and text highlighting what they think their best skills are. Importantly, the thing to do is check and see if the SEO person’s website is accessible and works on different sized screens.
The easy way to check how a website looks and works on different sized screens is to view it on different screens and see if it looks and works the same. Alternatively, on a tablet, laptop, desktop, or workstation can simulate different sized screens when you adjust the window width on your browser and watch how the page being viewed changes as the window gets narrower and wider. We also highly recommend you check your potential SEP persons website with an accessibility evaluation tool, such as WAVE’s accessibility evaluation tool. If done properly a website will not have any errors, contrast errors, or alerts found by the evaluation tool.
Why check a potential marketer’s/designer’s website when picking a website designer? If the marketer/designer has the skills to put up a decent website, their own should be the first and best kept version of their work. After all, would you really want a person without a website to provide one for you? Of course not. Once you have verified that an SEO provider’s website looks and works the same on all the screen sizes, next you need to check out the speed of their website.
Check Out the Speed of a Marketer’s/Designer’s Website
At a minimum, utilize Google’s PageSpeed Insights and check the SEO scores for the designer’s website on an analysis tool like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Ubersuggest is an essential step. The designer’s website should at least be ranking and scoring better than your own if they are going to be skilled enough to actually help you.
On PageSpeed Insights and nearly all of the analysis tools, there will be numerical scores and colors associated therewith. Your marketer’s/designer’s website should score better than yours, and ideally, you will be seeing green across the board. You want to ensure that you check your future marketer’s/designer’s website for green colored scores. If the potential marketer/designer cannot get their own website up to speed, you can safely presume the technical skill level is not high enough to effectively help you.
Why check your potential marketer’s/designer’s website for ranking and scoring when picking a website designer? Page speed and SEO scoring are the result of having minimally sufficient technical skill to actually make a website for you that could potentially be listed on organic search results. If a marketer/designer cannot get their own website to be fast and score well on SEO, they are proving themselves to not be useful for your website. Not scoring in the green for speed signifies they are not skillful.
Check Out the Marketer’s/Designer’s Website SEO
Search engines are looking to offer the best website links for every search entered. The best websites are the ones that are technically proper and offer the best answer for the keyword or phrase searched. The best answers are the ones that offer information related to the keyword or phrase searched that are comprised of original relevant content (text, images, videos). You can have a website listed for many different keywords and phrases.
Getting a website listed on page one of a search engine requires the technical skills to format the website properly and present a best answer to the keyword or phrase searched for, so the website can be and is listed on the first page of the search results displayed.
Check Out the Marketer’s/Designer’s Website Technical SEO Formatting Skills
If you want to check out an SEO person’s technical SEO skills, there are many free (and paid) tools you can use to test technical SEO features of a website. The SEO people all have their favorite SEO analysis tools, but there is one particular tool that you should use to test the technical skills of someone that you are considering hiring to be your SEO website marketer/designer. You should use Google’s Rich Results Test to see whether a potential SEO marketer/designer person’s own website is technically formatted properly to get enhanced listings on the Google search engine.
Search for the Marketer’s/Designer’s Website on a Search Engine
How does the marketer’s/designer’s website rank organically? Of course, ads don’t count – anyone can do that. Only organic ranking counts when determining a website’s ranking. Search for your future marketer/designer using the words they use on their website or in their communications.
For example, if they say they are an expert at website marketing, search for “website marketing” on a search engine, and you should find that marketer’s/designer’s website listed on page one right under the ads. Better yet, check out the services they show on their website and do a search for those words. Additionally, you could ask them to give you a keyword or phrase they rank for and search your favorite search engine for that keyword or phrase. You should find that marketer’s/designer’s website listed on page one first right under the ads.
Why check to be sure you can find your potential marketer/designer on the search engines when picking a website designer? If a marketer/designer cannot get their own website to show up on page one of the search engines, how can you expect them to be able to do that for yours? You cannot expect a marketer/designer who cannot get their own website on page one to be able to do that for you. Not showing in search results signifies they are not skillful.
If a website SEO marketer/designer has sufficient evidence of their technical skills, then it is time to check out their people skills.
Finding Evidence of People Skills for SEO
If everything checks out: a potential website SEO marketer/designer has a fast website that looks the same on all different screen sizes and is listed favorably on the search engines, then it time to check out the people skills of the person. In addition to the technical skills required, any potential website SEO marketer/designer should have good people skills. A good website SEO marketer/designer person will be easy to find, have a reference or two that you can talk to about their experience working with the website SEO marketer/designer, and will be easy to communicate with.
Search for the Marketer/Designer on a Search Engine
When picking a website designer, go to your favorite search engine and do a search by the person’s name and the business name they operate under. Both the person and their business name should dominate the page one search results, and there should not be anything negative. Essentially, you should check this person out like you might a potential date. Check out the social media listings for both the person and their business.
Why check out the person and business name of the marketer/designer that you might work with when picking a website designer? If they are not present or negatively presented, they may not be what they say they are. Keep in mind these are marketing and sales people, so they are usually rather good at being convincing. You need to independently know. Good results signify a good person.
Check References When Picking a Website Designer
Whether you try to contact clients listed on a potential marketer’s/designer’s website or you ask them for references, you should always at least try to contact the references and ask about how things went for them when working with the marketer/designer. You don’t need to call, you can email a referral too. Don’t pester anyone and accept no response, but you should try to contact a couple of referrals.
Why check referrals and/or references when picking a website designer? If the potential marketer/designer does not have any, it raises suspicions about the quality of their work and/or their ability to communicate. A marketer/designer without references is a fish out of water. If a marketer/designer is any good, some small percentage of their clients will have agreed to be a reference and/or given one on a respectable place online. No references should raise questions the rightness of the marketer/designer to work on your project.
Lastly, Meet Your Web Designer Candidates
Or more specifically, video meet them. You should likely check out and speak with at least three website SEO marketers/designers to be fair to yourself when considering this kind of hiring decision. There are wide and varied amounts of technical and people skills in the website SEO marketer/designer folks. You owe it to yourself to consider as many as reasonable.
When picking a website designer, never tie all your expectations to meeting any one marketer/designer. Ideally, you can arrange three short 15 minute zoom sessions in the same day with three marketers/designers that you have checked out with the steps above. Let everyone know you will be evaluating and will get back to them (and be sure you do). Give yourself at least one night’s sleep to verify your decision, then let everyone know whether you picked them or not.
How to choose the right website designer is important. Professional website designers are plentiful today. For how to find a website designer, be sure to talk with a few and make an informed choice. Read about business name branding and protecting your brand with trademarks. Also, check out our article, “Can you Copyright a Website?“