Don’t Hire a Web Designer Until You’ve Read This First!


For established businesses with a website, it might be worth considering a refresh every 2 to 3 years. Just like clothes fashions, the look and feel of a website can look a bit dated and old-fashioned. There are new plugins and better ways of programming all the time. Also, what the search engines like Google and Bing expect from a website changes too. A few years ago there was less emphasis on how mobile-friendly a website was. Now websites which aren’t mobile-friendly are considered less valuable to searchers and are ranked lower than websites which are responsive on all types of devices.

If you search for “web design Edinburgh” in Google there are pages and pages of web designers. So how do you choose one? On price?  Because they’re on page 1 of Google?

10 Essentials to Look for in a Good Web Designer

1. A willingness to listen to your ideas. A web designer who only knows one way of designing websites and reuses the same format time after time is not taking your ideas on board. This may be an indication that they have limited web designing experience.

2. A portfolio that they are willing to share with you. Make sure you can see what they’ve done before. Do these websites look good to you or do they look a bit boring?

3. Good communication skills. You want to be able to get in touch and discuss ideas. Are they willing to take your call or respond to your email in a timely fashion?

4. A pricing structure that makes sense to you. Perhaps you want to add more pages – how much will that cost? What about ongoing maintenance? If they offer this make sure it is cost effective. Tweaking a heading which takes two minutes might result in an hourly charge.

5. An understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO).
There is little point in getting a website launched if it is not search engine friendly.

    • Is there duplication? Quite often there is unwittingly.
    • Are the pages built for speed? Page loading speed has an effect on ranking so this needs to be taken into account.
    • What about the navigation menu? Does it make sense to you? Is it structured logically? Can you access all the pages within a few clicks? If you struggle to navigate, your website visitors will too and so will Google.
    • Keyword research and page names. Will the website designer do keyword research and assign page names accordingly?

6. Proficiency in copywriting. Who will provide the copy for the website? This needs to be clear since I’ve heard of some websites being built with no text whatsoever to the clients complete surprise! Copywriting is a skill. Writing for the web is different to writing a letter or journal. It needs to be engaging and clear. The copy needs to read well and contain NO spelling mistakes. We’ve more on copywriting for the web here.

7. Hosting packages designed to meet your needs – not theirs. If they provide hosting of your website, make sure that you have full access. Many times I’ve seen people want to move away from one hosting package but can’t because the website designer pulls all the strings.

8. Good up-times on their server. If they host your website, how often does the server go down and with it your website? Do they host lots of websites on the one server all competing for server power? What contingency planning do they have, for example backup servers? Do they keep backups of your website in case of a complete disaster?

9. Client focussed domain administration. If your website designer buys the domain you want to use, make sure that they assign it in your name – not theirs. Again I have heard of clients being held to ransom because they can’t access their domain as they don’t own it. You need to own it. I would suggest always buying your own domain.

10. A clear and achievable timescale. Are they so busy that you will have to wait weeks for your website? If they are rated website developers then maybe it is worth the wait.

I hope this checklist helps you choose the best website designer for your needs. Usually you get what you pay for. So if you go cheap then there may be compromises which have to be made.

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Caroline Phillips

Caroline Phillips is the owner of Alba SEO Services which offers quality SEO services to SME's. Established since 2013, Alba SEO has a track record of success.

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