5 Common Mistakes Made When Hiring a Web Designer

I work for a lead service introducing clients to designers every day.  I have been doing design for 15+ years.  I see common mistakes made by both the designer and the client.  Hopefully if you are looking for a designer, this article will help you avoid making some of these common mistakes.  

  1. Do not depend on a lead service company to guarantee designers.

Often clients ask me what requirements we place on a designer signing up to use our lead service.  While we can remove designers from our website if they have been reported to the BBB or we received several verified complaints, we do not offer any guarantees in regards to the designers that use our service.

Just like if you had done a search through google, you will want to thoroughly investigate each company you are looking into.  Different lead services have their own way of operating.  Be sure to read each lead services policies.

  1.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  

I see a lot of “professional” looking developer websites out there.  Just because a website looks professional to you, does not guarantee the company is qualified to handle your project.  A lot of times companies offer impressive looking, yet very vague or generic information on their website.  

Look specifically for pages like “Testimonials” & “Meet The Team”.   Take notice if the person you are talking to on the phone is the same person that is on the website.  Look for examples of projects that have been successfully completed, read the details in their “Case Studies” and ask to speak to referrals.  Find out how long they have been in business and check them out with the Better Business Bureau website.

  1. Don’t rush through project planning.

Once you have done your research and you are competent that you have found the right designer  for your project, you are ready to move forward.

Create a basic written description of your project to the best of your ability.  So often client’s want to describe their project over the phone.  Important requests get overlooked or forgotten and then you have a case of “your word against theirs”.  Put everything in writing.  It should be easy to do this with email.  Make sure you have everything you want included in the one email and not spread out over 3 or 4 emails. 

For example your project description may sound like this:

I am looking for a website designer to develop my new site.  I need help with hosting.  I would like to be able to edit the copy on the website myself.  I will need custom graphics created for my website.  My site will have 4 main pages.  About Us, Order, Contact Us & Gallery.  I will need to set up a shop to sell products on my site as well.  I need help with social media like linking my site to facebook, twitter and instagram.

Once you have communicated to the designer what you are looking to accomplish expect receive something close to the following:

1. A detailed outline of the project broken down into phases and/or tasks.

2. A time estimate based on the project outline.

3. A ballpark figure based on the information provided.

  1. Never pay for all of it up front!

You may be confident in your developer, maybe it’s your daughter’s husband developing it for you and you trust him with your life.  Still do not pay for all of the work up front.  

Let’s say your total comes to $3000.00.  Just like you break the project up into phases, you should also break up your payments.  Below is an example.  You may choose to break it up more or less depending on your specific needs.

Here is a rough idea of how your proposal/contract will look with a deadline of January 1, 2016

Proposal Example:


PHASE I (5hrs) Completion Date 11-1-15

  • Consultation & Research (Via email and/or phone)
  • Hosting Setup
  • WordPress Theme Installation
  • Plugin Installations
  • Login & Basic Setup

PHASE II (20hrs) Completion Date 11-15-15

  • Consultation & Research Part 2(Via email and/or phone)
  • Implementing Design
  • Custom Graphics
  • CMS Setup
  • Site Menu Setup
  • Header & Artwork Setup
  • Subpage Template
  • Review/Notes
  • 1 set (completed list) of revisions.

PHASE III (20hrs) Completion Date 11-30-15 

  • Consultation & Research Part 3(Via email and/or phone)
  • Social Media Integration
  • Photo Gallery
  • WordPress Overview
  • Assist in overseeing insertion of site copy & graphics.
  • Assist in any copy formatting issues.
  • 1 set (completed list) of revisions.

PHASE IV (20hrs) Completion Date 12-15-15 

  • Online Shop
  • Beta Testing
  • Testing Cross Platforms, Mobile, Windows, Mac, ie, Chrome, etc

Payment: 50% Down 50% Upon Completion Per Phase

Phase I: 5hrs  $50hr =$250  

$125. Due 10-28-15 (upon receipt)  /  $125.00 Due 11-1-15 (or upon completion)

Phase II: 20hrs  $50 =$1000
$500. Due 11-1-15 (upon receipt)  /  $500.00 Due 11-15-15 (or upon completion)

Phase III: 20hrs  $50 =$1000
$500. Due 11-15-15 (upon receipt)  /  $500.00 Due 11-30-15 (or upon completion)

Phase IV 20hrs  $50 =$1000

$500. Due 12-01-15 (upon receipt)  /  $500.00 Due 12-15-15 (or upon completion)

  1. Understand that technology changes, code can be finicky and estimates are usually at best guesstimates based on the information at hand.

Make sure that your website completion deadline is at least 15 days before your “real” deadline.  So if you are looking to launch January 1st, make your deadline December 15th.

It is impossible for even the most experienced designer to foresee every possible (aka probable) technical difficulty that is bound to arise.  So not only should you be prepared for this, keep in mind that all cost estimates and time estimates are given with the best of intentions, based on the information that is currently available.  Rarely do things run without a hitch, especially in web design.

Look at it like how you estimate a work commute.  You can see that on a map, your destination takes 20 miles.  However, you have to take into consideration that there will be traffic, possibly accidents, road blocks and other unforeseen obstacles along your way to the finish line.  Your commute is more like 2 hours.  Keeping these items in mind before you enter into a relationship with a designer will help things run more smoothly for everyone.  Best of luck with your project and happy designer hunting!

© Jessica Warren 2015