In 2019, it is vital that your website looks great, loads quickly and offers a seamless user experience.
When 38% of people will stop interacting with a website that has an unattractive layout and 47% of people expecting a site to load in 2 seconds or less, it’s clear that consumers vote with their fingers. And if your site isn’t up to par, they’ll click the ‘back’ button and disappear for good.
If you’ve started the process of connecting with a web designer to ensure your business puts its best foot forward then you’re making the smart choice.
But how do you tell a bad web designer from a good one?
The following are the 5 warning signs to look out for before you sign a contract.
1. Offers to Do Work Without Having a Contract
The first way you can tell if you are dealing with a bad web designer is they will often often offer to work without a contract. That might seem beneficial to you as the customer with zero unnecessary red tape and not having to worry about being overcharged.
However, when you partner with a web designer without having a contract in place it also means that you won’t have any protection if the project doesn’t go as planned.
Web design contracts help to protect you along with your designer. A good contract will stipulate important things such as the number of revisions you get with your initial contract, maintenance fees, the total price of the website, and hourly rates.
When you hire someone to build a website without having a contract that usually means you won’t have any guarantee that they will do a good job for you, or even complete the job, which puts you in a position of risk that’s entirely avoidable.
2. Does Not Have a Portfolio
The next way that you can tell if someone may be a bad web designer is whether or not they have a portfolio. One of the most common reasons why a web designer would not have a portfolio is if this was the first web design project for them. If that is the case, you’ll need to decide whether you really want to take the risk on somebody who is untested and inexperienced when your business is at stake.
The truth is, bad web designers will often refuse to provide you with a full portfolio. This may be a red flag that the websites they have built are not up to the standard they know savvy business owners expect.
This is reinforced by photography experts Strong Images who note “in the photography industry having a portfolio is the most important thing. When a photographer offers their skills without proof of work it’s a giant red flag. Web design is no different. A portfolio should be the first and most important feature of a partnership.”
Web design is part art and part science. To be a successful web designer you need to be technically savvy while also having a good eye for design. If either of those traits is missing, then your web designer may not be able to build a website that is aesthetically pleasing as well as technologically sound.
3. Poor Communication Skills
Another sign that someone is a bad web designer is an inability to communicate well. One of the main reasons why you hire a web designer is to effectively communicate the goals, beliefs and values of your business with your audience. Good web designers know this and are able to communicate with their clients without needing to use a lot of technical jargon.
According to the marketing experts at Search It Local, “ask your web designer how they maintain a site once it is live. Inexperienced designers won’t know about this process so this question can help you separate designers who are over-selling their experience and those who can legitimately help your business.”
If you don’t understand your web designer, then how can you know that your website is going to meet all of your requirements and preferences? On top of this, there are no guarantees that they’ll accurately represent your business to your customers either.
4. Does Not Offer Prototypes and Mockups
This red flag goes along with good communication. A good web designer should always offer the following three things before your website launches:
- A static mockup of how your website will look
- A working prototype of the website for your consideration
- A final prototype that looks exactly like the final version of your website
These three things are standard best practices for web designs. If you’re looking to update your website, these important steps allow you to provide feedback at three key stages in the design process: the beginning, middle, and end.
During each stage of the process, you should be able to communicate any concerns you might have. Using this two-way stream of communication, by the time your website is ready to be launched it will look exactly like you expect it to with no alarming surprises or headaches.
5. Charges a Lot Less or a Lot More Compared to the Competition
The final red flag to be aware of comes when your potential web designer charges considerably less than the competition, or considerably more.
As freelancers or agencies, web designers can set their own fee structures for their services. Good web designers monitor what their competition is charging and attempt to beat or match the competition. This is a sign of professionalism, business acumen, and experience.
However there are various tiers of web designers.
Firstly, there are web design companies that mainly cater to non-profits and small companies. There are also companies that target international, national or medium-sized organisations. You are not going to pay the same amount of money for a non-profit or small business 5-page WordPress website as a large retail store representing an entire region is going to page for a 500+ page e-commerce website.
If a web designer is charging a lot more than their competitors are charging to provide the same services, then consider looking elsewhere.
Secondly, you don’t want the website designer to be on the opposite end of the spectrum with really cheap rates.
This is reinforced by the team at Northern Rivers Demolition who saw first-hand the impact that a cheap web designer can have, saying “we were looking for a new site to showcase our professionalism and experience. Once we landed on our final web designer we realised just how lacking our site had been previously. The margin for error in 2019 is so small, it takes a mix of technical tweaks and design trends to really stand out.”
You should always be cautious if the price quoted is well below industry averages, as most of the time when you pay a cheap price for a website you end up with a bad site.
Are You Ready to Find the Right Web Designer for Your Business?
If you’re ready to transform your website and enjoy the rewards that come with it, it pays to do your research.
Ask your colleagues, friends, and family if they know any good web designers. And if you already have a web designer who is not reaching the standards you expect, consider telling the current web designer to stop working on your site while you re-evaluate the project’s direction.
Your chosen web designer should have industry experience, a large and diverse portfolio, good communication, and competitive pricing to ensure there are no red flags and your business is getting the best treatment possible.
Luke Kurtz is a freelance writer and a student majoring in Accounting in Sydney. Luke’s favourite pastime is watching movies. This is what he does when he is not in school.