The Imperfect Fit: 6 Signs You’re Working with the Wrong Designer

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Your visual brand is extremely important, so choosing the right designer is crucial. Look for these signs of what to avoid when hiring.

Like most people, you probably recognize the importance of your business having an online presence.

That’s smart of you to notice, because it’s true: every thirty seconds, over $1 million is generated in the world of ecommerce.

That’s insane. It also proves my point—now, more than ever, your business’s online presence better be strong, or else you’ll get left behind.

But it’s not enough just to have a website. You’ve got to have a good website, one that looks nice, entices readers to stay and explore. You would hate for users to casually bypass your website with a gentle sigh and move on to your competitor’s site, wouldn’t you?

Related Article: How to Identify and Correct Problems in Your Web Design

Right, you would. It’d be tragic. So, you’ve got to make a really good-looking, attractive website. Don’t know how? That’s okay. There’s a whole world of freelance digital designers out there ready to take your website and really turn it into a true online beauty.

The freelance market is an old concept, but just recently, major movers in the freelance world have started taking notice of the importance of digital designers in the world of online business.

So, you’re fully convinced. You know your company’s website needs a makeover, and you’ve hired a freelance designer. Good call. Of course, with any hire, there’s an element of risk, and just hiring a freelance designer doesn’t guarantee success. Here are six signs you’re working with the wrong digital designer.

1. You Can’t Find A Portfolio

It’s never a good idea to hire someone totally blindly without doing your research, but say you’ve now got a freelance designer working for you.

In order to get a sense of how that designer will turn your concept into a real thing, you might want to look at his or her past work—see if there are commonalities, certain design features he or she uses frequently—and make sure the designer’s work is in line with what you were visualizing for your website.

If, it turns out, you can’t find any record of the designer’s work, well, that’s a bad sign. Freelance designers get hired based on the quality of their previous work, and most of them will have a public profile somewhere online, usually either at Behance or Dribble or a freelance design network if they use one. If your designer doesn’t have any previous work or isn’t willing to show previous work, you may want to rethink that hire.

2. The Designer’s Work Doesn’t Exist Anymore

Okay, let’s say you did your homework, got a little lucky, and found a freelance designer whose portfolio is out there for all to see. Hopefully the work looks good and is in line with your own conceptual ambitions. But wait a minute.

You visit a website for which your designer once did a project, and you find the website is totally different. What does this mean?

Well, it’s not necessarily a good sign, because it probably indicates that the owners of the website felt the need to replace that design for whatever reason—maybe it became quickly outdated, or the functionality wasn’t up to par.

If the designer you’re working with has a history of defunct designs, you might want to reconsider your hire.

3. You Don’t Understand What the Designer is Saying

Look. Jargon exists in every industry. It’s part of the territory. And digital design is not immune to this phenomenon—there’s plenty of technical lingo out there that you’ll never understand unless you are a designer.

But that shouldn’t get in the way of your experience. Because design is a very subjective art form, constant communication between designer and employer is key. So if your designer is constantly throwing technical jargon at you that you just don’t understand, isn’t that a waste of your time?

It is, but it shouldn’t be. A good designer should be able to explain his or her work in layman’s terms—it shows they have a good practical feel for the material.

Related Article: Sell With a Click: Easy Tips for Building Your First Ecommerce Website

4. You Haven’t Heard From the Designer in a While

Remember how we were just saying communication is key to a successful design project? Yeah, that’s still true. And it always will be true. Even though you aren’t doing all the technical work, the design project should still conform to your conceptual ideas. It’s your website. It should look how you want it to look. But you can’t transmit your idea perfectly into the designer’s brain. The next best thing is always being on the same page, communicating with your designer each step of the way.

It would be a real waste of time and money if the designer turned in a finished product and it didn’t conform to your specifications. The way to prevent that is to keep communicating with each other. If you haven’t heard from your designer in a while, like a week or more, that’s not a good sign.

5. You Hired an App Designer for Your Website

This one seems like it should be intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many people do not quite understand or appreciate this distinction: apps and websites are very different things.

You might be tempted to think, “Oh, my company’s app will just be a smartphone version of my company’s website.” Don’t think that. You’d be wrong if you thought that.

Designing a website and designing an app are very different processes, both technically and creatively, so much so that it takes one type of designer to do one and one type to do the other, unless one designer is really freaking good.

The point is, don’t fall into the trap of just hiring any digital designer. They do different things, and you want to make sure you have an expert whose work is tailored to your specific needs.

6. You Know More About Coding Than Your Designer Does

Okay, this one’s a bit of a generalization, I’ll admit it. You might be a fantastic full-stack developer who simply isn’t wired creatively and can’t make a good looking website. And that’s okay. But if that is the case, then it’s perhaps a bit unreasonable to expect your designer to be on a coding par with you.

Related Article: You Built It, Now What? What to Do After Launching Your Website

But, if we’re speaking to the average person looking for a web designer, the point is this: because web and app design is so closely intertwined with functionality on the technical side, it’s oftentimes very helpful (I might even say necessary) to work with a designer who understands the code-related elements of how your site works.

The technical pieces inform the creative execution, so having a designer who is proficient or even excellent in both categories is crucial.

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