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September 21, 2019

How to Hire a Web Designer

“The Web Designer I hired Seemed Nice Until I Paid them”

Before you hire a web designer, you should consider what might happen if you hire the wrong person or company. You may be thinking; “does it matter who designs my website? I mean, the neighbor’s kid is good with computers. They could pick a free template and then put your old newspaper ads online, that would be good, right?”

Wrong! Let us stop right there. Don’t do that. It would be bad. We have seen the wreckage after a lousy web design experience, and here are some of the things that can go wrong. Continue reading and learn six steps needed to avoid a bad experience when you hire a web design company. You will also learn what can happen when you make the mistake of hiring the wrong web designer.

After a month of back and forth, I needed to fire my web designer and start from scratch.

The person who made this statement hired a web designer that didn’t spend time learning about the business; it’s brand, customers, and the competition. Now the web designer created a website that:

  • doesn’t reflect their vision
  • does not fit with their business
  • displays graphics that don’t make sense to their customers
  • doesn’t include vital information about their company.

Your entire online presence is your website, and a bad one can damage your brand. You have no choice but to cut your losses and start over with a new web designer.

Now that you’ve lost your web design deposit, it is time to think about what went wrong.

How much money did you waste: $1,000.00, $5,000.00, $10,000.00 or more? Now you are wondering if you may have paid too much upfront before they started working for you. What is a reasonable deposit for a web designer anyway? Most web design firms ask for 50% upfront, but it would have helped if your deposit was smaller. As a result, you would have observed the low quality work, saved money, and avoided a disaster.

So, you wasted your time and deposit, or whatever you agreed to pay the web designer to start working. That’s water under the bridge now. I know it is no consolation prize, but at least you learned from the experience. You did have time to think about your needs and the kind of website you don’t want. That is a good starting point for the next web designer.

Trust me, your experience with a web designer could have been worse!

Losing your deposit and hiring a new designer might not have been that bad when you consider what could have happened. We have heard horror stories, where business owners gave the designer access to everything. This unrestricted access included the login credentials to the domain registrar, website login, and full access to hosting services. The security breach resulted in having a website and domain hijacking. There was also a fraudulent activity that included several email accounts. If all the company’s revenue was from online sales, it might even file bankruptcy as a result!

Now here is a real story about how a web designer was hired to design a website and almost destroyed the business.

Jenna and Robert Lazar are owners of Epoch Trading Company, an Asbury Park business. They hired an overseas web developer online to work on their website almost destroyed their business. The developer redirected domain traffic to a porn site. The couple claim he stole their domain name and faked ownership of the site so digital companies couldn’t give it back to them.   Read this article on how a web developer nearly killed the Asbury park small business.    Hence, if you don’t take the right precautions, this could be your business. 

Keep reading our article, and we provide the security protocols that would have prevented Jenna and Robert’s disaster from happening.

How do you stop yourself from hiring a bad web designer?

Before you go out and share this experience with your next web designer, you need a solid plan. Start by documenting your needs and what you want your web designer to do for your business. Here are some questions you need to answer before you hire a web designer:

  • Do you need a new website, a redesign, or a stylistic refresh? 
  • What about your brand? Do you need someone to create a logo?
  • Have you researched the competition and your industry? 
  • Want your website to be like a brochure, generate leads from SEO or both?
  • Do you have or need a blog?
  • Do you need new content? 
  • Need a photographer?  
  • Will you host the website where it is now, or do you need migration to new hosting?
  • Will the website be used as a digital brochure? 
  • Do you sell online? 
  • Is there a customer login?
  • Do you need online advertising and search engine marketing?

After you document what you need, determine if you need help from one or more individuals or an agency. 

Whether you are looking to hire a web designer for a new website or a website redesign, you will need to decide who will do the work. What about creating content? Will this task be done by you, or do you need help with writing? Most web design firms have someone on staff that can do this or have resources for helping with things like creating copy, photography, and logo design.

As a result, knowing the requirements and the kind of services you will need will help determine if you can work with a small web company or an agency. The more services you need, the more likely you will want the approach that an agency can provide.

Six Steps needed to avoid a bad experience when you hire a web design designer:

By following these steps, you can prevent a bad web design experience, tighten security, and lower your financial risks:

1) Create a detailed RFP for hiring the web designer that includes: 

  • your requirements, a description of your company and its goals, 
  • your competition, and 
  • samples of websites that appeal to your target marketing, 
  • examples of sites that have a look and feel that is like what you would like to see for your company.  

2) Meet with potential web designers and take the time to educate them about your business.

Don’t expect a web designer to read your mind and know your business. The best designers will ask the right questions during your interview. If they don’t, you will still need to educate them before they create something that doesn’t match your expectations. 

3) Ask for customer references and call them.

Check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau. Buyer beware if reviews are bad or none to be found. Thus, if the web designer is in business for the long term, they’ll care about their reputation and won’t take the risk of getting a bad review. 

4) Make sure the final contract you sign details with your requirements, deliverables, and payment milestones.

Your web design contract should include:

  • A complete and detailed scope of work. What will your web designer do for you, and what are the deliverables?
  • A section that states what happens if you both need to cancel the agreement. If you need to negotiate a settlement, it will help to have a common understanding before you start.  
  • A statement about who owns the final deliverable and intellectual property. Web designers like to control all the code so they can reuse it. Letting them keep the system may not be a good idea if you are concerned about them selling it to a competitor or becoming a competitor. As a result, you will want to protect your brand, your customers, and the intellectual property created from the process of creating your website.
  • How and when will you make payments?
  • When will you launch the website?

5) Now that you had a bad experience with hiring a web designer, you will want to negotiate a small deposit.

In addition to a small deposit, you should also have several milestones that are manageable and require deliverables and an approval process. It is not a good idea to pay a web designer more than 50% of the project cost. Therefore, you should try to negotiate favorable payment terms and lower your financial risk. 

6) Only provide the credentials that are needed to do the task at hand.

In our experience, web design companies and agencies usually get more access than they need. Sometimes they get full access to manage a company’s domain, DNS, server, and email. As a result, third parties have access to sensitive information, domains can get hijacked, and security compromised. 

Follow these three steps to maximize security and prevent your website from being hijacked by a web designer.

Hire a web designer and maximize security
  • Create a backup of your website. As a result, you’ll have a fallback if the web designer hacks your website and installs a virus or ransomware.
  • Contact your hosting company for help setting up a staging website. Ask them to help you give your web designers ONLY the credentials and access that they need to do their job.   For example, if you have a static site, a web designer only needs sFTP access to your hosting environment to make changes.   If you have a dynamic website with a database, ONLY give them access to sFTP and the database admin.  Hence, you will be giving them everything they need to do their job and no more. 
  • Be careful not to provide admin credentials to manage your domain, email or DNS records.  Instead, be sure to reach out to the company that controls your domain or your website hosting company for help launching your website.   As a result, you will be separating access to your domain name and email from the web design project and this will help protect your business from getting hijacked.  

We are here to help with your web design project!

We hope this article has helped you improve your next web design project. Our team is here to help you with your next website design project. Therefore reach out to us for support, security, SEO, or any other topic in this blog. No project is too big or small, and we love to help.

Did you like this article? Read our article, “10 Tips for Working with Your Web Designer” for more tips on hiring a web designer.

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