The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

How to choose your website designer

If you have a website and have already gone through the process of choosing a web designer, you know how hard this can be! Not only do you need to list objective criteria, you need to be able to compare these criteria and avoid being confused by the technical words and terms that pervade web design service offers. It can be a daunting task and it’s difficult to be successful on the first try. Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that clients happy with their choice are few and far between.

After observing the gap between the clients’ expectations and the results delivered, I decided to find out more about the best ways to find a web designer who will meet your specific needs. Believe me, the number of horror stories I keep hearing is impressive, even today with more than a decade of experience in website design.

Here are a few tips to help you choose a web designer

  1. First, create a precise call for tender in order to present a defined web project to potential tenderers. Everything starts here, with a clear project and precise expectations, parameters, and budget.
  2. Don’t let a web designer define your specifications for you. First, they are not in a position to be objective. They’ll do everything they can to recommend elements in line with their programming philosophy. It is preferable to invest more time in identifying and listing your specifications on your own and then finding a web designer that can make your vision a reality.
  3. Should you want your web designer to give your recommendations, which is very understandable, you’ll be asking them to act as an adviser. You’ll need to add digital marketing strategy consultation to your call for tenders from the start. My advice: call upon someone who specializes in web strategy. Prepare a separate cost estimate for them. They will be able to clearly assess your needs.
  4. Once you’ve shared your clear vision (at this stage it is essential that everyone in your team has the same vision), you’ll be able to call upon the web designer who best suits your budget, business reality, and who has demonstrated an expertise in the type of website you want to build, which is even more important than the kind of market you operate in. You don’t want to come in second to your competitor.
  5. When the web designers have submitted their bid, create a comparison grid which will allow members of the selection team to rely on the same points of analysis.
  6. Allow web designers to present their service offer in person, that way they’ll be able to answer your questions… because trust me, you’ll have a lot! The hardest part will be to assess the value of their answers. Make sure that your selection committee includes someone who understands matters related to website design. This resource will be able to translate the answers given and ask the right questions.
  7. Ideally, you should have a good idea of the technological solutions you want to use, that could eliminate a few web designers from the bidding process.

In brief, building a website is like building a home

Keep in mind that building a website is exactly like building a home.

  • You would never ask a carpenter to design a house. You’d choose an architect.
  • You’d never ask an architect to define your needs or predict the future in your place. They’ll be able to ask the right questions, but at the end of the day, you’re in charge of your own vision.

It is during the house construction phase that your website designer will demonstrate their value if your plans are clear and you have successfully communicated what materials you need and your standards.

The most common pitfalls that occur at this point are related to deadlines and project management. Missed deadlines, delays caused by the client or the web designer… a good strategy would be to assign an experienced project manager who will be able to oversee requests and make the project progress at the appropriate pace. Furthermore, don’t neglect the other resources that are essential to the success of your project: copywriter, SEO consultant, graphic designer, etc. You can even create a team of experts or hand this mandate over to the web designer. The important part is to avoid tasking your carpenter with decorating your house!

“In brief, building a website is like building a home”

One last tip to help you make the best choice

It is important to keep in mind that selecting the best web designer should be done by people with experience in the matter, people who won’t be swayed by smooth talkers. You should also remember that the biggest company is not necessarily the right choice for you. Because staff turnover is more frequent in larger firms, you’ll have no guarantee that you’ll be working with the best resources.

It all boils down to finding the best partner for your specific needs. Additionally, you should always have a plan B. It’s better to be the most important client of a small firm than the smallest client of a big one. Finally, make sure are ready to pay a fair price for the services rendered. You’re not looking for the most inexpensive service, you’re looking for a solution tailored to your needs.

Want to learn how to prepare your call for tender?

Attend the next “Introduction to web marketing” workshop

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