Looking for a Web Designer?

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Those who know nothing about building a website feel lost when it comes to finding a good web designer because there are many so-called designers ripping people off who know nothing about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). There are a lot of graphic artists building websites, however, knowing how to design a beautiful website is only one-half the battle. Unless a designer knows SEO and how to market a website the site will never go anywhere in search engines.

This guide was written for those with very little knowledge of how to build a website so they can judge for themselves the qualities of a designer.

Good designers will have the following skills:

Check Their Own Website for the following:

Google still supplies about 85% of Internet traffic so checking Google's listing of designer sites is one way to determine how your site will rank if they design your website.

Use this command in Google:
  site:PutTheirDomainHere.com  
and look for the following:

Duplicate Titles and Descriptions

Look to see if the titles of their pages (what shows up in search engine results) are all different and also the descriptions. If there are a lot of duplicate titles or descriptions, then the designer knows nothing about SEO. utilizing unique titles for each page and also descriptions that reflect the content of that page, are one of the most important keyword ranking tools in web design. If they don't do this then you would be wise to quit checking out this designer right now and find another one.

Does the Site Look Professional?

Is the designer's website professional looking and clean cut or is it full of Google ads and affiliate banners or advertising links at the top of the home page? If it's the later keep looking for someone else because they are attempting to gain a living via advertising instead of their web design skills.

Check out their Portfolio

Check out their mobile web design portfolio to get a better idea of their skill level. In the case of most website redesigns often the owner of the website wants to keep the original design so that isn't always a good reflection of the designer's capability. In that case look for custom designs by that company but keep in mind that the owner may have requested a design that the designer didn't necessarily approve of.

Is important text in Images?

Check to make sure that important text isn't in images as search engines will never see the text. If your computer has drag and drop capability you can determine this by clicking on text and dragging it . If the text comes with the image, and it's important keywords not found elsewhere on the page, then their keywords will not rank well in the search engines. It is especially important that menu link text not be in images so search engines can read the keywords in the link text.

Do you like the graphics?

If their graphics are fantastic that is good from a visual standpoint however not all graphic artists understand web design or SEO so check all the other features before you decide.

Does their website design annoy you?

Do they use too many ads or animations or graphics or backgrounds that make the text hard to read? Does the display of the web page appear broken up. If so look elsewhere.

Can you navigate the site easily?

This is of utmost importance. If you can't navigate the site then your visitors may not be able to navigate your site either if they build it. To check this, turn off Javascript in your browser, dump your browsers cache and see if you can still navigate the site.

If they have drop down menus check the site to make sure the menu works in all browsers and both Mac and Windows machines.

Do they Guarantee a Top Listing in the Search Engines?

No "Honest" web designer can guarantee a top listing in search engines and especially on Google because they change their algorithyms often (about 350 times per year). What used to work last week may not work next week as Google is preventing any methods that attempt to manipulate their search engine.

Some designer sites are SEO Ripoffs and use spam techniques to gain high ranking that will then get your website penalized by one of Google's algorithms, so be aware of those.

Do they provide Hosting?

A web designer that also provides hosting is known as a reseller for a large hosting company. This means they have bought a large space on their host site and they host the sites they design in that space, the hosting fees may be higher and they may or may not be your sole tech support.

Sometimes those that build websites have a computer they use for a server in their home. Either way this is not a good idea because if they get sick or their computer breaks down--your web site will be down and you may have no way to contact anyone to fix it.

Are they a Local Designer?

It's not so important that a designer be in the same city, or even state, as most all design communication can be covered by phone or email. However is they are in another country you may have problems if they don't complete the job after you paid them (you will have no legal recourse). So check their contact page for phone, address and email to make sure they are in the same country.

Do they build websites with WYSIWYG or CMS programs?

WYSIWYGs are programs like Dreamweaver and it stands for What You See Is What You Get, meaning that a web page can be designed by dragging images and text around (Drag and Drop technology) without any knowlege of HTML. CMS programs (Wordpress and other blog software) are basically the same thing. Designers who use this method may not be able to write, or even read HTML code, or fix it either, if something was set up wrong.

WYSIWYG and CMS programs also produce massive code bloat and usually don't validate unless the designer is very skilled in using the program but then that requires knowledge of reading and writing HTML. These programs are also expensive or require frequent updates. If Wordpress doesn't get updated often it can be subject to hackers. So it's best to find someone who can write HTML code by hand.

Do the Designer's pages Validate?

Check the portfolio sites to see if the code validates on those websites. A lot of broken code can cause the site to not display correctly in search engines or cause a search engine to not be able to gather information on the page. You can check the code by inserting the url for the site in the official HTML validator W3.org however, it does not validate javascript so ignore those errors.

Browser Compatability

Look at the website in different browsers to see if they have made sure it looks good on all of them.

Do Their Web Pages Load Fast?

A web page should load within 3 seconds or less. If a web page takes too long to load then visitors, and most importantly search engines won't wait and will go elsewhere. This is usually caused by too much code bloat due to using a WYSIWYG or CMS program such as Dreamweaver, WordPress, etc., to design the site. Using too many images or images that are too large and unoptimized also will increase download time.

Do They Offer you the Option of Updating Your own Site?

These kinds of sites, usually called CMS programs (Content Management Systems) are designed for those with no knowledge of HTML. Due to the nature of the program, the code rarely validates and will produce massive code bloat and slow load times. CMS sites may never do well on the Internet causing you to PayPerClick for the life of the site. You would be better served in hiring a designer who can update the site for you. It should only take a few minutes to update a sentence of text. Images may take longer if they need to be resized or edited.

Are they a FreeLance Web Designer?

A FreeLance web designer is self-employed. If you want individual attention then getting a freelance web designer is the way to go rather than a large web design firm.

Do They Offer Templates used on Other Websites?

A site that offers templates that are for sale means there are multiples of the same templates on the Internet. It takes very little time to put together because all they have to do is enter data, thus they had better be offering their services at a very low price. It's not likely you want a cookie cutter design anyway so best to avoid those.

Is Their Text full of Repetitive Keywords

If so, they may have the keyword density too high and this can incur a Google penalty if it's overdone. A well designed website will be written for the visitor's ease of reading and will draw the visitor from one page to the other.

Do they Provide Testimonies and References

The best place to find valid references will be Google maps. Enter the name or address of the designer's website and see if they have any Google reviews. Call a few of the website owners and ask about the designer's skills and the service they provide. If they don't offer testimonies and references then keep looking. Even a new designer can get references if they build websites for free when starting out.

Check out their Web Design Rates

I listed this last because there is no standard rate for web design. Some designers with mulptiple computer and internet degrees need to pay college loans and will start right off with high rates, and very little experience.

Some designers come right out of college, buy a WYSIWYG web design program like Dreamweaver, check to see what other designers are charging and set up shop claiming to be an expert in SEO with no SEO experience at all.

And there are others (like LWD) who went to college, took adequate internet classes, worked in computer labs for 4 years, earned a degree in other areas, started out in web design as a volunteer and learned from the ground up with years of experience with a keen interest in SEO, kept their rates low and raised their rates as their skills increased.

Price should be your last consideration. Choose the web designer with the best skills and knowledge.

order an In-Depth SEO Analysis Report

or call Lori at 509-397-6000 for more information.

Lori is a professional web designer exhibiting all the skills above. See my about page for more information, the web design rates page for prices and the experience page for web design skils and also testimonies.

Lori Eldridge
Copyright © 2006 - Updated 8-23-19
All rights reserved.