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magnifying glassLike me, you’ve probably heard experiences of small business owners who hired unreliable web designers – ones that turned out to be letdowns. Or, maybe it’s happened to you.

What went wrong? The designer either…

  • suddenly dropped out of the picture with no explanation why,
  • quit midway without completing the website,
  • failed to meet an important deadline, or
  • set expectations too high just to get the project and couldn’t deliver.

Whatever the case, the business owner typically has to cut loses and find a new web designer to complete the job.

So, you may be wondering, “How do I prevent that from happening to me?”

Or, “how can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

I’ll give you some insight into how to detect whether the designer you are thinking about hiring will be reliable or not.

Of course, there’s no surefire way to know what someone is truly like on the inside. However, these tips help you gauge your prospective designer’s reliability, based on things business owners told me they wished they paid more attention to or knew ahead of time.

That way, you can hopefully make a better choice and have an even better outcome!

First, let’s talk about what I mean when I say reliable designer, so we’re both on the same page.

Characteristics of A Reliable Designer

I define a reliable web designer as someone who is trustworthy, dependable, skilled, and professional. They’re worth every penny because they deliver on their promise to create you a professional website.

So, it’s super important that you take your time when choosing a web designer. Why?

Because a reliable designer will:

  • Give you their word and stick to it – which means they will tell you a deadline and meet it.
  • Stick with you from the start of the project to the end.
  • Keep in touch and always respond to your emails or phone calls.
  • Give you realistic expectations and then either meet them.

For just those reasons alone, you see how valuable it is to take your time and find a reliable or dependable designer. Now, here’s some tips to help you find one.

5 Signs You’ve Found Yourself A Reliable Designer

As I mentioned before, I’ve talked to business owners in the past who’ve been letdown by their designer. Looking back, some have admitted that they just didn’t pay attention to the red flags in the beginning. What kind of red flags? I’ll share those with you.

Here are 5 signs or clues that will help you detect a reliable or dependable designer.

#1: Web Design is their full-time job.

woman searching online

Some website owners who’ve worked with part-time web designers in the past were extremely disappointed. Why?

Because the designer didn’t give their client’s website priority. The part-time designer was more dedicated to their 9-to-5 job.

Designers who run a web design business full-time are more likely to be reliable than a designer that does work on the side. Why?

A full-time designer has all their eggs in one basket… their business. It’s their primary source of income. And they know their business thrives on keeping a good reputation and making happy customers. So, they are least likely to mess you over.

Whereas designers who hold down another 9-to-5 job and do web design work on the side will focus on pleasing their boss first. That’s because their primary source of income comes from the other job.

#2: They own a professional website.

As you know, your website is a reflection of you. And it’s even more true for a web designer.

When you find a site that is well-designed, polished, functions properly, and the messaging speaks to you… all those things are good signs. It shows that the designer of that site will likely do a good job for you, they know how to maintain websites, and take their business seriously.

In contrast, when you visit a designer’s website that is unappealing, ill-functioning, or even outdated… what does that tell you about them? It’s likely not good.

The truth of the matter is… if that web designer doesn’t put much care into their own website… chances are they won’t put much more care into yours either.

#3: They Are Detail-Oriented and Organized.

Websites have a lot of technical parts to setup in addition to the design and layout. So, it takes an organized and detail-oriented person to build a good website design.

How can you tell you’re choosing a web designer that possess those qualities before jumping into a project with them?
Two people discussing website

Think about this:

In the quoting phase, does the designer ask you plenty of questions about your project? If they do, it shows they are trying to gather enough information to make an accurate quote, to really understand your needs, and the task at hand.

Do they take notes while your discussing your website? This shows they are making a conscious effort not to forget a detail discussed.

On the designer’s quote, did they itemize the features you discussed, or is everything vague and general?

Those factors show whether your designer is on top of things even before the project has started.

#4: Their Portfolio Contains Real Websites.

A portfolio of past work helps you see a designer’s capabilities.

But when choosing a web designer, be mindful of whether their portfolio is just advertising what they could do, or whether it displays what they have done.

That’s because some beginner designers use mockups or sample sites… which are not always a bad thing… but, it doesn’t help you verify they can really build and launch the site pictured.

A reliable designer likely has a portfolio of operable websites proving their skills and experience – not merely non-existent website mockups created in Photoshop.

Here’s how you can verify a website design is real or not – that way you don’t get drawn in by a mockup portfolio

Most designers’ portfolios display a screenshot of the website design with a link. So, if you can’t find a URL to visit the live site, do a Google search for the name of that business website to see if anything comes up.

If you can’t find a live site under that name, it’s possibly due to one of two reasons. One, the website design displayed is a mockup. Or two, the website was real but at some point, that client went out of business, and the designer still chose to feature the site in their portfolio.

Still unsure the site is real? Ask the designer to send you links to live websites they worked on.

Next, when you have a chance to view a few live websites that the designer has created, it’s time to examine the sites further. Ask yourself: Does this site live up to my expectations? If this was my website, would I be happy with the quality of work, functionality, etc…?

If so, you have found a capable and dependable designer. Someone who can create websites as advertised and deliver services as promised.

#5: They reply in a timely manner.

How does responding promptly imply dependability?

hand holding a cell phone

One, it gives you an indication of how they manage time. Someone that’s behind making calls and responding to emails is obviously not managing their time well.

And this is something you should take note of when choosing a web designer, because being able to easily communicate back and forth with your designer throughout the design process is vital.

When the lines of communication are flowing, chances are the project will run smoothly and not be delayed. That means you can count on your website being finished on time.

That’s the issue some business owners had who hired unreliable designers. They often complained that their website took too long, because part of the time was wasted trying to get in touch with the designer and request changes. That is why you want a dependable designer who is easy to reach and stays in touch.

So, test out how easy it is to contact your designer and how quick they make a reply.

Questions to think about:

  • Do they pick up the phone when I call?
  • If I must leave a voicemail, do they call back in a timely manner?
  • How fast do they reply to emails, or at least acknowledge receipt of my emails?

Please note that when you call the designer and they don’t pick up the phone, that’s not necessarily a bad sign. Sometimes we designers are truly busy at the moment, so leave a message. The true test is how long it takes for them to call back.

Could I be the designer for you?

I design websites for consultants, coaches, and small business owners, like you, who want a website that truly reflects who you are. So, in turn… you attract and convert your ideal clients.

Here’s just a little more about me, Rhonda Brown, a small business website designer.

I’m the type of web designer that:

  • Knows how to create a magnetic site that does the selling for you.
  • Acts as your design partner and offers you guidance.
  • Gives you full ownership of your site once it’s launched and provides continual support.
  • Works 100% virtually – via phone, email, and video calls.

Do I sound like the designer for you? Then, let’s talk! Contact me at (757) 218-4053 or request a quote online.

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