In today’s digital era, first impressions are made online.
Whether you’re a successful business owner or budding entrepreneur, having a visually appealing and user-friendly website can make all the difference in attracting and retaining visitors. And it’s way more than a virtual storefront or digital brochure. Websites are a vital tool for establishing credibility, building brand awareness and driving business growth.
You want all that, right? Of course you do! That’s where a skilled website designer comes into play.
Read all about website designers:
So, What Does a Website Designer Do?
While a website designer indeed constructs the overall look and feel of a website, they’re responsible for so much more than what meets the eye.
Here are the key aspects of their role. They:
A website designer begins by understanding the client’s requirements and target audience. They collaborate with stakeholders to define the website’s purpose, goals and overall design concept. This involves conducting research, gathering inspiration and creating a design strategy.
Create wireframes and prototypes
Before diving into the visual design, a website designer creates wireframes and prototypes. Wireframes outline the layout and structure of the website, focusing on information hierarchy and user flow. Prototypes provide an interactive representation of the website, allowing stakeholders to test and provide feedback on the user experience.
Website designers work on the aesthetics of a website, including its colour scheme, typography, imagery and overall visual style. They create visually appealing and cohesive designs that align with the brand identity, while also ensuring usability and accessibility. Design tools like Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, or Figma are often used in this phase.
Are responsible for UI (User Interface) development
Are responsible for UX (User Experience) optimization
Website designers aim to create intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. Why? Well, it’s important. Like, really important. According to Forbes, “The user interface is a top priority for anyone delivering a digital experience. Consumers expect a clean, simple UI that’s easy to navigate. Anything short of that is likely to turn people off to your website, software or app.” And so, the website designer you choose should consider aspects like navigation, readability, interactivity and accessibility.
Complete maintenance and updates
Websites require ongoing maintenance and occasional updates. A website designer may be involved in tasks like fixing bugs, optimizing performance and making design enhancements based on user feedback or evolving trends. And yup, it comes at a cost. But it’s worth it. “Website maintenance is important for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that it keeps your website functioning properly,” explains MailChimp. “However, there are other reasons to maintain your website on a regular basis, such as keeping your site looking fresh and updated, ensuring that visitors have a good experience when they visit and improving your SEO ranking.”
It’s good to keep in mind that the exact tasks of a website designer can change depending on the company, project and team setup. Some designers focus on specific things like online stores, mobile design, or making websites work well on different devices. Others have a wider range of skills and can handle different design and development areas.
How to Hire a Website Designer
In today’s visually-driven world, the role of a skilled website designer is crucial for creating compelling and impactful visual content. Whether you’re an individual, small business owner, or part of a larger organization, finding the right designer can greatly enhance your brand image, marketing materials and or creative projects.
The right website designer for your business is someone who understands what you do and how to speak to your customer,” says Holly Hamilton, 1dea Senior Designer. “With knowledge of branding, user experience and accessibility, your designer will ensure the right message is delivered to the right people. Good designers know that trendy designs aren’t always suitable for customer conversion and that simple and clear layouts are always effective.”
Finding a great website designer can allow you to ensure your messaging is consistent across many platforms, including digital ads, marketing materials, social media and, of course, your site, she adds. “Being consistent with your visual look and your marketing message allows you to build trust with your customer.”
With all this being said, the process of hiring a designer requires careful consideration and a clear understanding of your specific needs.
Don’t fret, though! There are a few steps you can take before settling on a designer that will work best for you.
Step 1: Define Your Needs When it Comes to Website Design
Before you begin looking for a website designer, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your needs and what you’re looking for. It’ll vary from business to business and what goals you hope to achieve once the site goes live.
Before diving into the search for a website designer, take the time to assess your specific needs. Consider the purpose of your website – whether it’s to showcase a portfolio, sell products, share information, or engage with your audience. Clearly defining the goals and objectives of your website will not only help you communicate your vision effectively but also enable the website designer to create a tailored solution that aligns with your intentions.
If you’re venturing into the world of websites for the first time, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of possibilities available. To provide you with a helpful overview, here’s a round up of some frequently encountered website types. We’re hoping this helps you get familiar with the diverse range of options that exist in the website landscape.
- E-commerce websites: These websites are designed for online buying and selling of products and services. They often include features such as product descriptions, shopping carts, secure payment gateways and order management systems.
- Portfolio websites: Hoping to showcase your work, skills and achievements? A portfolio website will allow you to leverage galleries, project descriptions, testimonials and contact information.
- Blogging websites: Blogging websites are used for sharing informative or personal content through written articles or multimedia.
- Corporate / business websites: Corporate or business websites allow you to provide information about your products or services, and may include pages such as About Us, Services and Testimonials.
- Educational websites: These websites allow you to offer educational resources, courses or online learning platforms. These are often used by schools and universities and should include functionalities such as lectures, quizzes, forums and progress tracking.
- Non-profit websites: Non-profit or charity websites represent organizations dedicated to social causes and charitable work. They’ll often include information about the organization’s mission, programs, donation options and ways to get involved.
Step 2: Consider the features and functionality you’re looking for in your website.
When it comes to building a website, it’s not just about aesthetics and design. Features and functionality play a pivotal role in creating a successful online presence.
Your website is one of the most meaningful pieces of collateral to build trust in your user base,” explains Holly. “The information housed there and how you present it can make or break that trust. Your website must be usable, fast and conversion-focused. Just as every business or organization is different, the features you need will also be different from other websites. Finding the right balance between branding, memorability, and functionality is crucial. More often than not, if your website is too complicated or frustrating to use, your customers will leave your site.”
Ultimately, the features and functionalities of your website should align with your target audience’s needs and expectations. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and think about what would make their experience more enjoyable, efficient and convenient. By considering these aspects during the website development process, you can create a website that not only looks visually appealing but also offers a rich and seamless user experience, contributing to the success of your online presence.
Tip: Try taking a look at your competitors’ websites to get a better gauge on what you should – and shouldn’t! – include when it comes to your own website.
Here’s a round-up of some of features you may want to think about:
|Common Website Features|
|1. Navigation Menu||A well-organized and intuitive menu that allows visitors to easily navigate different website sections.|
|2. Responsive Design||Ensuring that the website adapts and displays properly on various devices and screen sizes for a seamless user experience.|
|3. Contact Form||A form that enables visitors to easily reach out to the website owner or business for inquiries or communication.|
|4. Search Functionality||A search bar that allows users to quickly find specific content or products within the website.|
|5. Social Media Integration||Links or icons that connect the website to social media platforms, enabling visitors to engage and share content.|
|6. Image/Video Galleries||Collections of visual content presented in an organized manner, showcasing products, portfolio items, or relevant media.|
|7. E-commerce Capabilities||Online store functionality, including product listings, shopping carts, secure payment gateways, and order management.|
|8. Blog/News Section||A dedicated area for publishing and sharing articles, news, or updates related to the website’s niche or industry.|
|9. User Accounts and Login||The ability for visitors to create accounts, log in, and access personalized features or content.|
|10. Content Management System (CMS)||A backend system that allows website owners to easily create, manage, and publish content without technical expertise.|
|11. Analytics and Tracking||Integration with tools like Google Analytics to gather data and insights on website traffic, user behavior, and performance.|
|12. Multi-language Support||Offering the website content in multiple languages to cater to a diverse audience.|
|13. Forms and Surveys||Various types of forms or surveys that allow visitors to provide feedback, subscribe to newsletters, or participate in interactive experiences.|
|14. Testimonials and Reviews||Sections dedicated to displaying customer testimonials, reviews, or ratings, enhancing credibility and trust.|
|15. Integration with Third-Party Tools||Connecting the website to external applications or services, such as email marketing platforms, CRM systems, or payment gateways.|
Step 3: Research Designers That Have Experience
When it comes to hiring a designer for your project, experience counts for a lot. An experienced designer brings a wealth of knowledge, skills and insights to the table, honed through years of practice and a diverse range of projects.
One of the key benefits of working with an experienced designer is their ability to provide valuable guidance and recommendations. They have likely worked with clients from different industries and can offer insights on what works and what doesn’t. Their experience allows them to anticipate potential issues and suggest innovative solutions, resulting in a more efficient and effective design process.
Additionally, an experienced designer brings a refined skill set that extends beyond technical proficiency. They possess an artistic eye for detail, an understanding of user experience, and a knack for translating ideas into compelling visual elements. This combination of technical and artistic expertise allows them to create designs that not only look great but also engage and resonate with your target audience.
Here are a few things to look for in a designer:
- They Have a Well-Rounded Portfolio: Experienced designers usually have a diverse portfolio showcasing their past projects.
- They’re Up-to-Date on Design Trends: Design trends change over time, and experienced designers stay up-to-date. If a designer’s work looks outdated or doesn’t match current design styles, it could indicate a lack of experience with modern practices.
- They Have Technical Skills That “Wow”: Website design requires technical know-how like coding languages, responsive design and CMS.
- They Know Their Stuff When it Comes to User Experience (UX): User experience is essential for websites. You want your website to have clean navigation, layouts and fast-loading pages. (Fun fact: In fact, a study by Google found that 53 per cent of mobile users abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.)
- They Have Awesome Communication Skills: Communication is key in any collaboration. Make sure the designer understands your requirements and can clearly explain design concepts.
- They Know Their Way Around SEO. SEO is vital for a website’s visibility. “In short, SEO is crucial because it makes your website more visible, and that means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers,” explains the Digital Marketing Institute. Experienced designers understand SEO principles and apply them.
- They Have Consistent, Reliable Work: Consistency is a hallmark of experienced designers. Look for a designer that has consistent quality, style and attention to detail.
- They Understand Your Business’ Goals: Skilled designers align their design choices with your business objectives. Make sure the designer understands your goals or target audience.
So now that you know what to look for, we know what your next question is going to be. “What’s this going to cost me?”
With that, let’s dive in.
How Much Does a Website Designer Charge?
According to Business Development Canada, most websites range anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 for the initial build, although they have seen some websites go as high as $60,000 to $100,000. (How’s that for a range?).
If you’re not sure whether or not a website designer is worth the (sometimes admittedly costly) investment, here’s the thing: the numbers speak for themselves. Here are some stats to keep in mind if you’re waging a mental war with yourself over whether or not to drop the big bucks on a website:
57 per cent
of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed website.
48 per cent
of people say the number one way they decide on the credibility of a business is determined by the web design.
73 per cent
of consumers trust the information on a business’s website over other sources.
An important thing to note: this does not include ongoing maintenance. And yes, you need to do this.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business owner is think this is a “one-and-done” thing. Ongoing maintenance is critical for security updates, plugin and theme updates, content updates, backup recovery and so much more.
While it really depends on the type of website you have, this price can soar upwards of $5,000 per month. You may cringe at the cost (and I understand completely), but please note that for most clients, $200 per month may be all you need to manage and maintain your website, especially if you have a good content management system (CMS) in place.
Ensuring a Successful Collaboration With Your Graphic Designer
Hiring a designer is just the start. Collaborating with a graphic designer is an exciting step towards creating a visually appealing and impactful online presence for your business.
These steps will help make sure you’re well-prepared to maximize the potential of your collaboration and make sure your website is a success.
- Kick-off Meeting: It’s time to kick-start the collaboration and get the creative juices flowing. One important way to ensure a smooth and successful journey with your newly hired graphic designer is by scheduling a kick-off meeting. This meeting is your chance to dive into the nitty-gritty details, set expectations and get everyone on the same page. It’s the perfect opportunity to discuss your project, share your requirements and align your vision with the designer’s understanding
- Complete a Project Brief With the Designer: It’s time to give them the inside scoop on your project. A good designer will have a template all ready to go, which should make this process easier on everyone involved. It will act as a roadmap, guiding the designer through your brand, target audience, project goals, preferred style, and any specific design elements or content that should be included.
- Share Brand Guidelines: If you’ve got brand guidelines in place, it’s time to share the goodies with your designer! Things like logos, colour palettes, typography and visual assets are essential ingredients that shape your brand’s identity. By handing them over to your designer, you’re ensuring consistency and coherence across all your design materials. These guidelines serve as a reference point, helping your designer capture the essence of your brand and infuse it into their creative work. Don’t have brand guidelines? Get ‘em in place ASAP! “Your brand is arguably one of your organization’s most important assets. It gives your organization an identity, makes your business memorable, encourages consumers to buy from you, supports your marketing and advertising and brings your employees pride,” explains Hubspot.
- Collaborate on Design Concepts: Work closely with the designer to explore and discuss design concepts and ideas. Provide constructive feedback and communicate your preferences and revisions clearly to help the designer refine the designs and move forward in the right direction.
- Maintain Effective Communication: Establish a communication channel that works best for both parties, whether it’s through email, project management tools, or regular check-in meetings. If the designer has any questions, do ‘em a favour and get back to them quickly. This goes a long way when it comes to keeping the project on track.
- Review and Approve Design Drafts: Regularly review the design drafts provided by the graphic designer and provide feedback. Approve the designs that align with your vision and don’t be afraid to ask for changes if you have them.
- Finalize Design and Deliverables: Once the designs have been revised and refined, work with the designer to finalize the design elements and ensure all deliverables are in line with your expectations. This includes approving the final design files, formats, resolutions, and any other specifications required for the intended use.
Your Business’s Successful Online Presence Begins Now
Finding a good website designer is a crucial step in creating a successful online presence for your business. By considering factors such as experience, portfolio, communication skills and technical expertise, you can identify a designer who aligns with your needs and vision.
Throughout the process, remember to clearly communicate your goals, provide constructive feedback throughout the process and maintain an open line of communication. And don’t be afraid to ask for references or testimonials from previous clients to gain insight into their professionalism and work ethics.
A good website designer will not only possess the necessary skills but also understand your business objectives, and be able to translate them into an appealing and functional website.
With the right designer by your side, you can establish a compelling online presence that engages your audience and drives business growth.