ZestyVA 5 Attributes to look for in a website designer
Just like any industry, not all website creators are the same. Some people have an excellent grasp of design elements, some have a knack for SEO.  However, just like any industry there are differences and nuances between each designer.
So how do you know who is going to be best suited to create your website?

Here’s my Top 5 attributes to look for in a website designer.

1. They take the time to understand you and your business.

Each business has its own way of working; from company culture, values, the makeup of the team, which is all on top of the core products and services the business is selling. It’s important to bring all of this together in the way the website will come together. 

People buy from people, so bringing the human element into the website is really important. Your website designer should be taking the time to get into your head; asking key questions to understand what your business does, how it serves its customers, and promote the Know, Like & Trust with your clients.

If you haven’t done this already, take the time to go over these aspects of your business; the prep work will help inform the design process.

  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve with your product/service?
    What gap in the market are you trying to fill?
  • What prompted you to start this business?
    What’s the ‘origin’ story?
    What’s the “why” – why do you get up every day to do this job?
  • What are the values of the company?
    forward thinking?
  • Who is in your business?
    Your team – what do they do, what is their story (yes this means you too)
  • Who is your target market or ideal client? When someone walks in your shop door, or picks up the phone to call you, what do you imagine about them?
    Is it a Mum with three children who wants to get healthy but doesn’t want to cook different meals for each of the family?
    Is it a Tradie looking for a way to keep his truck tidy?
    What do they need?
  • What colours are associated with your business?
    Make sure you have good quality logos and any images ready to be sent.
  • Get really specific!!

2. They make an effort to learn about and understand your ideal client.

When your website is being designed and copywritten, it’s important it looks and feels like it’s speaking to your ideal client. So your Website Creator should know the questions to ask to tease this information out of you.

It’s no good selling drill bits to tradies on a pink floral website, unless perhaps your target market is female and/or LGBTQ+ tradies.  Knowing your ideal client helps your designer choose images and create text which speaks to your clients.

This means your designer should be building in some research time into their package. This research may be asking you questions during one of your catchups, it may also include an hour or so research on your ideal client and potentially looking at competitors websites. This information is vital in order for your designer to create and write a site which appeals to your clients.

3. They understand you are commissioning them to create an asset for your business.

Just like Toyota creates a van perfect for Tradies, using their experience, research, and IP (intellectual property) which they then on-sell to their business customers (which then becomes a business asset), so too your website is created by someone with experience which becomes a business asset.  Your website should belong to you.  Toyota doesn’t come and take the van away just because you’ve decided to buy a Hyundai van instead.

If the person you hire has a stronghold over your website, which means you must go to them for updates and changes, then consider choosing a different designer.  Just as you are allowed to change the tyres, oil and window wipers on your car, so too you should be able to make minor adjustments to your website.  If you muck up those adjustments on your car you might need to take it to the garage to fix, so too if you muck up your website you will need to pay for the issues to be fixed BUT you should never be prohibited from access to your website; it’s YOUR business asset. Likewise if that relationship ends for one reason or another, the designer should not just delete the website. You’ve paid for that website to be created it should, for the large part, remain in tact even if you switch companies.

4. They understand how to design a site which creates a great user experience, and also adheres to the ever changing space which websites exist in

The data, research, and information around how a website is created changes constantly. From platform updates to being mobile friendly, SEO and analytics, to how Social Media integrates with your site, and we haven’t even touched on the legal aspects you must adhere to which differ between countries (e.g. the GDPR for the European Union).  Not to mention the psychology of how a potential customer interacts with your site, or the changing trends in fonts, colours, and designs. There is a lot to learn about how all of these aspects fit together. There’s a reason why you can study website design as a unique field!

When you’re investing in a web designer, you’re not just paying for the time it takes them to make your site, you’re paying for the experience and professional development they must keep abreast of so they can stay at the top of their game. 

Just as you can make your own car in your garage and take it through compliance to have it road legal, there’s a reason why many of us don’t do this… because the time, energy and research needed to get your car to that point is huge. It’s the same with a website creators… they have the benefit of doing this for multiple clients, not just you, so you’re paying for this time and experience at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost you to go and learn it on your own.

5. They understand how copy enhances the website design and the user experience, taking your client on a journey to working with you.

Going back to the psychology of marketing and sales, the look and feel are just the start of creating a great site; the text (copy) is what leads your customers on a journey to working with you, and the Call to Actions are a massive part of this.

So many websites I see are “We, I, Us”. With so much information in our faces every day, our brains have become hyper-specialised in filtering out non-efficient data; your customer is going to be selfish and they’re asking one key question: “What does this company do for me?” If that can’t be answered in 3-5 seconds, you could potentially loose that client. (FYI The second question they are asking is, “Is it in my budget”, but that’s another blog post)

Clear Calls to Action (CTA) are the next most important thing to have on your website. We are all overwhelmed with choice when it comes to researching what we need to purchase – so make the decision for them as easy as possible. Want your client to book their dog into your boarding kennel, then make a big clear “BOOK HERE” button right at the top. Want them to purchase the new t’shirt you’ve just designed? Put an image near the top of the page with “NEW DESIGN HERE”.  Make it really short and too the point, telling them exactly where to go.

Conclusion: When you’re searching for a website designer, keep the following points in mind…

Don’t be afraid to ask your designer questions. Think of them as becoming part of your team; you are hiring them to advance your business in a way that you can’t or don’t have time for. Make sure their values, ethics, and approach to the job are in alignment to yours.

  • Questions to discuss when you’re looking to hire a website designer
  • How do they work?
  • How is the hosting and domain purchased?
  • Who holds the licences to the products they put on your site?
  • Who has access to the backend of the site?
  • How is the ongoing maintenance of the site taken care of?
  • How updates, changes and small edits made to the site?
  • Who has ultimate control over the site?
  • What happens if the relationship between the two of you end? e.g if you want to change to a different designer.
  • What happens to the access to the licensed products they’ve used to create your site?
  • Who owns the IP (intellectual property) of the website?

Remember, your website is YOUR business asset. If a designer has ultimate control over the site and does not allow you to make any changes or edits, then keep looking for another designer. If they try to tell you that this is “how it’s done” in the industry, now you know better.

I have seen several client/designer relationships go sour in my time. Websites people have paid thousands of dollars for be deleted in an instant and the person loosing all access to their business asset and client base. Make sure you’re prepared and have carried out due diligence on the website designer before handing over your money.

It can be tricky to navigate through the world of website design when you haven’t had the experience, so I hope this guide is helpful for you to make more informed choices as to who you’re bringing on board to help build your business.