Hello my name is Vicky and I am a recovering website designer. I didn’t start out as a designer. I went to college for biology and sociology, and then eventually just sociology. After college I spent a few years in the social services industry. I indulged in graphic design as a hobby until I realized that it was time to upgrade from a $29 desktop publishing software to the professional platform of Adobe Photoshop. After 15 years of sleepless nights learning CSS I’ve retired the designer-for-hire hat.
My ethos has always been “No ugly website is left behind.” While I am no longer a designer-for-hire, I do offer knowledge, expertise, and guidance for anyone who wants to create their own online presence. So before you drop 5k on that landing page, here are some tips to make sure you know what you’re looking for in a designer.
They walk the walk.
Your first impression with a designer should be a lasting one. If you look at a designer’s website, portfolio, online presence and you don’t feel inspired then they’re not the designer for you. This is a good time to be a web designer. You’ll NEVER be out of work!
With that also comes a very diverse market of designers who come with different styles and perspectives on design. There’s a designer for everyone so make sure the designer you’re working with has experience with designing in the style you want.
They don’t just do design.
A designer with tech skills has a different eye. They aren’t just designing to make your site look pretty. They already have in mind how your website will work with plugins and look on mobile devices.
A designer with tech skills will create a site that works for you because they’ll know the right balance between something that’s cute and also functional. This is critical if you intend to upkeep your website on your own.
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They are consistent across social media.
Design work can be very time consuming however that’s no excuse for having mismatched branding online. If their social media presence does not have the same look as their website, then this means the designer is likely not paying attention to details.
Consistency tells you a lot about what you can expect. They don’t have to be posting every day but if their bios, website URLs, and avatars don’t match then consider that a red flag. The same applies to copy.
Don’t forget to do your homework first.
You don’t have to be a web design pro but it will help you manage the relationship with your designer if you are familiar with their process. Learn basic CSS. Know the difference between Squarespace, WordPress, and Shopify. Join a few Facebook groups such as Latinas Think Big and ask for recommendations.
Keep it simple.
Know what kind of website you need. If you’re a blogger then you don’t need a complex website. Your design should be simple yet expressive with your personality. It’s very likely your website will be viewed on mobile devices more than a desktop so what looks great on a computer monitor may not show all the details on a smartphone.
Even if you are creating an e-commerce website, don’t just think about the brand experience. Remember that a website is there to help you convert a sale. Repeat after me: “function is more important than clever design.”
Having a website is something everyone should have, even if it’s just a personal brand page with your bio and headshot. A website is your digital home. It’s one piece of the Interwebs that you can own.
With the plethora of simple and advanced website themes, it’s very possible for you to do your own website. However, if you want to outsource it to someone who knows what they’re doing then being informed will give you the peace of mind that you will want as you get ready to shine bright with your sparkly brand.