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“Freelance Web Designers are a good option if you’re looking to have someone whip up a website design that you intend to manage.”
In this day and age, you need a website. A freelance web designer’s job is exactly what it sounds like – design and produce a website. After the website is published, you manage your domain and the maintenance. We recommend this route to individuals who know their way around a website’s backend but don’t have the expertise to execute the design step. Keep in mind though, that not all freelance web designers are the same. Be diligent in your evaluation of potential freelance candidates before hiring them for the job. Ask around and you’ll find horror stories about freelancers who didn’t follow through on a project, were impossible to get a hold of when you needed them, or didn’t meet deadlines.
This isn’t to say that all freelance web designers are bad, or even most. There are multiple talented, reliable, and affordable professionals available. The key is to choose wisely. Don’t hire a freelancer based solely on the content of their website. Do your due diligence by asking the right questions.
A Strong Existing Portfolio: Find a web designer who can provide not just aesthetic web designs, but an actual portfolio of live websites they were responsible for creating. This ensures that the examples you are viewing are not just mock-ups. The actual execution of the freelancer’s work demonstrates that they are capable of bringing their designs to life and that their previous clients were happy enough with the project to follow through with it.
Browse those sites and test the user experience. Is it easy to navigate? Can you find all the relevant information you need easily? Does it translate well to mobile devices? All of these things matter.
Living, Breathing References: Always ask to speak to references. A good freelancer will never have a problem referring you to individuals who can speak highly of their work. Don’t just settle for written testimonies of individuals you can’t verify. If they can’t produce a single person who can vouch for their work, be wary. Either you’re one of their first clients or they don’t have a history of good working relationships.
Excellent Communication: If it takes a while for him or her to respond to an e-mail or call you back on an inquiry, don’t expect that habit to change once you’ve hired them for the project. Good communication is essential. While hiring a freelance designer can often be cheaper than taking your project to an agency, if you can’t rely on them to be available for questions, changes, or follow-through, you’re losing valuable time—and money.
Also, look for someone who can convey what they offer you in layman’s terms. If they can’t explain their services and how they benefit you or your company in a way you can understand, don’t hire them. A good web designer takes the time to understand their clients and make sure that you understand them. Good business can’t happen without a clear line of communication.
Here is the hard part about freelance web design. The price range is about as wide as the grand canyon. Plus, you can’t always assume that a higher price tag means higher quality. Every freelance web designer has a different pricing structure, and it doesn’t always correlate with the value of the service.
Sometimes you can find an excellent freelancer for a bargain price. Other times, you may find yourself paying too much for a service that under-delivers. This is why research matters. Know what you’re willing to pay for good service, and then compile a list of freelancers whose portfolio caught your eye. Put each one through an initial screening by testing them for the qualities we described.
If after your screening, you find that none of the freelancers available meet your budget, you may want to revert to the DIY method. If none of them meet the level of service or quality you’re seeking, then perhaps it’s time to consider a web development agency.