I have had several clients tell me of bad experiences with designers in the past who were difficult to work with and they didn’t feel they had gotten a good value for their money.  In the end, they regretted having hired them. When you are looking to launch a new site and have chosen to invest in a professional design, how do you go about choosing a good designer? How do you tell a good one from a not-so-good one?

What is “good”?

“Good” is a rather subjective term isn’t it?  There are designers who do great work, but who are not necessarily great to work with and vice-versa.  I won’t get into what good design is here, because others more expert than I am have written on the subject quite well.  In the end, you will want to find someone whose work you admire who creates visually appealing, easy to use sites who is also helpful, responsive, flexible, and sticks to established timelines.

Start with their portfolio

A good designer will have examples of their work available- not only graphic examples, but live sites as well.  Does the majority of their work appeal to you?  Are they easy to navigate and use, or merely pretty to look at?

Get some references

If you’re not referred to the designer by someone you know who has already worked with them, it is a very good idea to get some references, just has you would if you were going to hire an employee.  I recently had a call with a potential client who said he had contacted a former client of mine to ask about their experience working with me.  That was the first time to my knowledge someone had done that.  Why?  If you’re going to pay for a professional service, and in many cases give them a deposit up front, don’t go into it blindly, hoping it will turn out okay.  There is no way to know what someone will be like to work with unless you ask someone who has “been there, done that.” Any decent designer would be glad to give you some references to contact.

Good designers are in demand

Unless they are just starting out and looking for new clients, a good designer will be in high demand and will be booking work out weeks and months in advance.  This might be frustrating if you’re in a hurry to get a site up, but you may need to be willing to wait for the person you want.

Good designers are not cheap

As it is with most things- you get what you pay for. That is not to say that you won’t run across someone who is undervaluing their work and end up with a great deal. But for the most part if you want a good designer, you need to know that their time is valuable and that ultimately the money you spend is an investment in your own success.

Good designers ask a lot of questions

Good designers want to know what appeals to you, what your goals are for your site, what your target “customer” is like, and what is going to make your site unique.  They are going to have to ask plenty of questions to get a good sense of what is going to make your site successful and make you happy.

Making clients happy is the goal of any smart designer, because we know that the best way to get good clients is for them to be referred by other happy, satisfied clients.