Getting Started

Basic information about websites and the web design business

Criteria for Evaluating a Web Designer

Getting Started

Not all web designers are created equal. Without experience in the industry, it may be a little tricky to know if the Tucson web designer you’re thinking about hiring qualifies as a “good one” or not. Are you going to end up with a great looking (and functioning) website in a month (and still be happy with it in a year) or are you going to be writing complaints to the Better Business Bureau because the guy you hired never finished anything?

The following are some good things to consider when you’re evaluating a web designer. And don’t just evaluate one — talk to several of them before you commit to anything or spend a time.


Of course, the web design portfolio. Unless the designer you’re thinking about hiring has stated upfront that he’s a student and/or just starting out, he should have some quality work to show you. In fact, he should be proud of his work, and be eager to share it with you. This is the culmination of all of his abilities.

Don’t just briefly glance at his portfolio — take your time to really dig through his work. How many sites has he completed? Are they designed well? Do they function properly and load quickly? Do they have good site titles, meta descriptions, navigation and organization? Do they validate? Check the websites in different web browsers to see if they show up properly in all of them.


What experience does the website designer have? How long has he or she been designing websites? What types of clients has he developed websites for? Does he have client testimonials and/or references to offer you? While formal education isn’t always necessary when you’re dealing with web design, don’t hesitate to ask about it.


What services does the web designer offer? Is he selling you “a website” or does he specifically offer custom design, content management systems, search engine optimization, valid xhtml coding, etc? Does he have the experience and knowledge to develop a fully functional website including whatever contact forms, admin panels or special features your website will need?

Exploring the services a designer offers can offer insight into his skills and core competencies. A good designer doesn’t necessarily have to be able to “do everything,” and an admission that he doesn’t know or do something may actually be a good sign, if he’s clear about it.

Designer’s website

Don’t just focus on his portfolio, scrutinize the designer’s own website, too. I’m always amazed at how many web developer’s websites I find offering “valid xhtml coding services” whose own websites don’t even validate (and often have a plethora of coding errors). Is the designer’s website well-organized, easy to navigate, clean, attractive, fast to load, showing up in the search engines and free of little “uglies” like broken links, design flaws and browser compatibility problems?


The vibe you get from the designer is probably as important as anything else. Developing a website takes time, energy, patience and cooperation between the designer and the client. Do you feel comfortable talking with the designer? Is he a good communicator who answers (and asks) questions thoughtfully and accurately? Does he come across as relaxed, confident and experienced? Does he encourage you to take your time and not pressure you? Does he help you understand your options and assist you in figuring out what website will work best for your company? Does he reference and explain his services and experience often, showing a good understanding of the intricacies of website design?

If you speak with several different designers, you’ll likely be able to tell a difference between those who are truly qualified and those who aren’t. Watch out for people who speak vaguely, make big promises, don’t explain services or options clearly, are elusive when asked questions and are unable to explain the design process or guide you through the decision making — this generally indicates a lack of experience.

Explanation of what you’re getting

Again, how well has he explained his services to you? What exactly will you be getting for your money? The more vague and unstructured the project starts out, the more doomed it typically is. A good designer should be able to explain to you precisely what the design process looks like, what you will experience and what you’ll end up with when it’s all said and done. Will you be able to modify the website when it’s finished? Will it have search engine analysis software? How long will the process take? How many design revisions will you get? What type of search engine optimization will be performed? Before you pay anything you should feel confident you know what you’re getting and what you’re getting is what you need.

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