8 Best Places to Find & Hire a Freelance Web Designer

A list of popular places where small business owners & entrepreneurs can go to find and hire a professional web designer for custom projects & websites.

Best places to find and hire a web designer

Let’s say you’ve decided that hiring a professional web designer is the best way to build and launch your website. At this point, your next challenge is to find the right designer or firm that’s a good match for your business and can deliver your site on spec, on time, and budget.

A quick search online will reveal millions of results for the term “web designer”. Freelancers and web agencies are all competing for your attention, eager to show you how great their work is and how experienced they are.

The truth is that the professional web design industry has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade, and the barriers to entry are still quite low. No qualifications are required to be a web designer and there’s no official group to assure you that the person you’ve entrusted with your website is good at their job. As a result, finding a competent web designer has become more difficult, and finding the right fit requires investing a bit of your time. But here’s the good news – if you know WHERE to look, you’ve won half the battle.

Top Places to Find & Hire a Web Designer

Listed below are some of the most popular places where you can find a freelance web designer to build your site:

Place to go: Pricing: Recommended for: Learn more
Toptal Avg of $75 to 90/hr Work w/ a dedicated manager to find top-level designers & devs Visit site
99designs Starts @ $599 Find a web designer via hosting a design contest Visit site
Codeable Avg of $70 to 120/hr Find a skilled & experienced WordPress developer Visit site
Upwork Avg of $15 to 75/hr Find a freelance web designer/developer yourself Visit site
Fiverr Avg of $150/page Fixed-price website packages at very low prices Visit site
Storetasker Avg of $700/project A service specifically for Shopify ecommerce stores Visit site
Envato Studio Avg of $500/project A community of freelance talent to browse & hire Visit site
Hibu Custom quotes Find an all-in-one website solution for local businesses Visit site

Where to find a web designer

Go Local! How to Search for Local Web Designers and Firms in Your Area

Freelance websites are becoming more popular, however many business owners and entrepreneurs still prefer face-to-face meetings with the person or firm they’re hiring to build their website. If that’s the case for you, interviewing local firms first could be the way to go.

For community-driven businesses, hiring a local firm provides them with a new client, boosting the local economy, and helps you grow awareness for your business. Finding the right web designer or firm locally often starts with a recommendation from a trusted business associate. Here are a few tips on how to search for local web professionals in your area:

  • Ask the people you do business with on a regular basis – it’s likely some of them have a web professional or a web agency that handles their website.
  • Get the name of a reputable web professional or agency from your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Attend some Meetups in your area – look for a business owner or tech meetup – and ask for advice on finding the right person to build your website.
  • You can still use online resources to find someone local. Do a Google search for local website designers or web agencies and browse their portfolio. Search for “your town name web designer” or “your town name web developer” to identify web professionals in your area. Visit the websites they’ve already built, and reach out to their clients to inquire about their experience with the designer or firm who built their website.
  • If you’re a business that serves a specific niche – let’s say you practice law or run a restaurant – browse the websites of other lawyers or restaurants in your area to see which web designer or firm built their site. Some web professionals specialize in serving a particular business niche, which makes them especially helpful when it comes to building your site, and they’ll provide additional value by understanding your business needs and helping you achieve your goals.
  • Look for a talented freelance designer through a specialized job board such as Krop, Authentic Jobs, Dribbble. Use the Location filter to browse just the professionals in your area.

 

Now that you know where to look for web designers, I also want to equip you with the right questions for your new hire. This will ensure a smooth working relationship right from the get-go.

7 Questions to Ask YOURSELF Before Meeting with a Web Designer

Reaching out to a professional for web design work is a big step, and it’s important to have a clear understanding of your expectations and objectives to make sure your website is a success.

Take matters into your own hands by asking yourself the questions below. Answering these beforehand will also help you if you are publishing a project on a site like Toptal, Codeable, Upwork, or Storetasker.

Q1: What type of website am I building?

It’s a good idea to be as clear as possible with your vision for the website you want to build. Is it a “brochure site” that offers information about your existing brick-and-mortar business? Are you launching an eCommerce website that sells products or services? Are you developing a forum or social media site that targets a niche audience?

Knowing the type of site you want to build will help guide your choice of web designer. Some web designers specialize in eCommerce; others make fantastic sites for showing off your portfolio or highlighting the benefits of your consulting firm.

Keep in mind too that, if it's a simple website, you might not even need a web designer. These days there are plenty of website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly that you'll be able to use with basic computer skills.

Q2: Will I create and edit the content myself or have someone else do it?

If you have existing content from presentations, sales letters, or marketing materials, and you only need a web designer to “put it online”, then you can look for a candidate that’s a good match for creating a basic static site.

On the other hand, if you plan to have a blog or update the content on your website on a regular basis you’ll need a web designer who can help you set up a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla or even a website builder like Squarespace or Shopify.

Be sure to consider your time creating content. Some web designers will also provide content as part of their services. If you need content or graphics on a regular basis and you don’t have the time, it’s helpful to hire a web designer who can bring all those services to the table.

Usually, your web designer will outsource things like copywriting or graphic design, as it's unlikely to find someone who is good at everything.

Q3: What are the goals of my website?

Websites are more than pretty pictures and fancy interactive effects, they’re powerful tools geared towards meeting business goals. You should ask yourself: How is my website going to accomplish my business goals?

Think about what you want people to do on your website. Is it subscribing to your email list? Or, is it getting people to contact you with queries about your services? Maybe you’re running an eCommerce site and you want people to buy your products?

By building your website with your goals in mind, you’ll be able to assess its success based on hard facts rather than vague notions, subjective aesthetic opinions, or the latest web design fad.

Q4: Who is my target audience, and how do they get to my website?

Before you hire a web designer, think carefully about your ideal client or customer. Your website’s main goal is to be a magnet for your target audience, and it should be designed to serve them when they land on your homepage.

To understand your target audience and how they get to your website, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my target audience looking for?
  • What problems or needs am I addressing for them?
  • How does my target audience search for solutions?
  • What answers are they expecting to find to their problems?

It may be that you don’t know the answer to all these questions. After all, that’s why you’re hiring a web designer to help you get your business online. If that’s the case, be sure to check that potential candidates also offer help with marketing or can point you in the right direction to find answers.

Q5: How do I plan to drive traffic to my website?

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you’ll still need to get them to visit your site. The Internet is a noisy place, and you’ll need a strategy to cut through the noise and grab people’s attention. It’s not simply enough to “put your website online” and hope people will find it, you’ve got to drive traffic to your site on a consistent basis, be it via search engines like Google or social media sites like Facebook.

Here are some questions to help you guide your plan to drive traffic to your site:

  • How will people learn about my website?
  • What content will I offer to keep them engaged and keep them coming back?
  • Can I do it myself or will I need help from a web professional to drive traffic?

Here again, you may not know how to drive traffic to your website. That’s OK too. It’s simply one more thing to keep in mind for your hiring process. Look for a web designer who can help you drive traffic to your site or consult to help you find the resources you need.

Q6: What’s my budget?

It’s likely that “What’s your budget?” is one of the first, if not the first, question web designers are going to ask when you first approach them. It’s better to ask yourself beforehand and be better prepared when you meet with a web designer about building your site.

Once you’ve decided on the goals for your website, you’ll need to set aside a budget. In other words, how much are you willing to invest to achieve those goals? Not only does this make good business sense, it also keeps you grounded when you discuss website features with a web designer. For instance, if you have a budget of less than $5,000, asking for a full-fledged online store, blog, and custom design, is probably asking too much.

Keeping realistic expectations about your budget will help make sure your first conversation with a web designer goes well.

Q7: Did I carefully review the information on the candidates’ websites?

Most web designers and web agencies put tons of information on their websites that can be invaluable to you. Here are a few things you can learn simply by browsing their sites:

  • Services they offer
  • Onboarding process for clients
  • Project management process and tools
  • Previous and current clients
  • Portfolio of work

These were the questions you should ask yourself before hiring a web designer. Once you've found interesting candidates you can ask them to answer the following questions.

11 Questions to Ask the WEB DESIGNER During the Interview Process:

After reviewing the questions above to prepare yourself, the next step is to set up interviews with web designers. As a small business owner, you’re familiar with conducting interviews and meetings, both in-person and remotely. Having a list of well-thought-out questions is the key to a successful interview.

However, the technical and jargon-laden language on some specialized web design and development websites can make it challenging to create a list of good questions, even for someone who is familiar with conducting interviews.

To help make your hiring process more productive, we’ve gathered the most important questions to ask when interviewing web designers:

Q1: What services do you offer?

It’s good to know the full range of services a web designer offers before you hire them. Some web designers offer only website design and do not provide backend development or coding services (meaning that they can only do very simple static sites). Others may work more like an agency, offering additional services like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, email newsletters, and more.

While many web designers are capable of wearing a few different hats, being an expert across a wide range of fields is tough for any one person.

Q2: On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your experience with my industry?

Some web designers or web agencies specialize in building websites for particular types of businesses, for example, salons, restaurants, attorneys, or automobile repair. Hiring a web professional who has experience working in your industry can add value to your project. They know the functionality your website needs and how to implement it, they know your target audience and what they’re looking for, and they know who your competitors are and can help you drive results.

One thing to be careful of here. When a website design firm specializes in a particular industry, make sure the designs aren’t too “cookie-cutter”, especially when you want to differentiate yourself from your competition.

Q3: Can you show me the latest website that’s relevant to my project?  Can you walk me through the process you used to design the site?

Portfolios are helpful but can quickly become outdated as a designer completes projects. Ask to see recent work to get the best view of your potential web designer’s skills. Better still, ask to see the most recent website they’ve built that’s relevant to your project. Even when they haven’t worked with a business in your industry before, ask them to show you a recent example that’s a close match for your goals.

Beyond how “good” the examples look, ask some further questions to get a better understanding of each web designer’s approach to a project:

  • What problems did you solve?
  • Why did you choose solution X instead of solution Y?
  • What process did you follow?
  • What were the goals for the website (and did you meet them)?
  • Can I contact your client for a reference?

Q4: Will you provide a detailed proposal and what will it cost?

A detailed proposal from your web designer can help you understand every service they offer and their associated fees. It’s a good sign when your potential web designer or web agency asks lots of questions about your business and your customers. Great proposals are based on a good grasp of your business needs and are geared towards providing solutions that meet those needs.

Pricing is based on many factors and each web development firm prices their services differently. Hourly, contract and fixed rates are all common. For you as a client it can be advantageous to work on a fixed price as you'll have a very clear idea of what you are paying.

Q5: How long will it take to complete my website?

Any website proposal you receive should include an estimated time for completion. Keep in mind that good designers often have other clients. Web design timelines can change as requirements change, so your completion date could be pushed back from your original estimate.

Of course, you want to launch your site as soon as possible, but rushing the project won’t help. To ensure a successful outcome, it’s wise to get involved in the project as much as you feel comfortable, working together with your web designer: sharing your business expertise and knowledge of your customers, offering constructive feedback, and providing any graphics, images or content your web designer needs to move forward with the project. Any delay on your part providing this information will inevitably postpone the website launch date.

Q6: Which content management system do you use?

Most websites are built using a content management system (CMS) that separates the backend code from design and content. This should allow you to update the content on certain parts of your site, without requiring you to learn any complex web code.

However, not all CMS platforms are created equal. Ask to see a demo of the system your designer plans to use. If your web designer wants to use his own proprietary CMS, this could be a big red flag. Generally, it's much better to build upon a CMS like WordPress that is widely used and where it's easy to find a replacement developer should you part ways one day.

Q7: Will my team be able to access and edit the website once it’s published?

Related to the question regarding CMS, you’ll want to know whether you can make changes to your site. Relying on a designer to update content can cause delays when you need to change something quickly. Ask what you can edit once the website is published and make sure you know how much it costs if you need your web designer to make a change.

When you’re interviewing potential web designers you can also ask if they provide training for you to learn how to update your website yourself. Choosing a good CMS like the examples we provided will make it easier to learn how to update content yourself.

Q8: Do you offer ongoing maintenance once my site is published? What if something breaks? Do you offer any warranty?

Software is constantly being updated, and new changes to one type of code on your website can affect other code, requiring further changes to keep everything working together correctly.

It’s a smart move to ask what kind of maintenance is required for your website and what options your web designer provides. Some content management systems are integrated with a specialized hosting environment that helps minimize customer maintenance tasks by automatically updating your site (e.g. Managed WordPress Hosting).

However, you should be prepared in case something goes wrong, for instance: the code base has bugs or security holes that are only detected after launch, updates require further changes to the code, or the worst-case scenario, your website gets hacked.

Be clear about what you expect from your web designer in these circumstances, ask how much it will cost, and how long their support will be available.

Q9: Will I own my website, domain, assets?

Another concern for businesses is the copyright or legal ownership of the website and all its components. You’ll want to have a contract in place that clearly outlines the ownership of your website. This contract should allow you to take your website to another designer in the future, or add your own modifications to it, without incurring any additional charges or penalties.

If you are hiring through a platform like Toptal, 99designs, or Upwork, they usually take care of basic contractual issues like ownership and non-disclosure agreements (NDA). And, very importantly, you can leave a rating for your web designer, which can be important leverage in case they are not doing what you agreed upon.

Q10: What do I need to supply before work on the website begins?

Discussing what you need to bring to the table will help you avoid delays in the project schedule and misunderstandings with your web designer. It’s vital that you have an understanding of what content or assets you need to provide.

This may include:

  • Copy
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Logos
  • Legal stuff, e.g., terms and conditions, privacy policy, etc.
  • Credentials for login to your hosting accounting (if you’re dealing with the hosting company)
  • Premium plugins and themes that you may need to purchase

Overall, the design of a website is a huge project that needs your input: be clear with your web designer on what your responsibilities are and do your best to fulfill your side of the bargain.

Q11: Will I be able to expand my website as my business grows?

If you plan to expand your website as your business grows, you should consider this now (e.g. adding further language versions, a blog, or an online store). A full redesign might be required to add new functionality if a website isn’t developed with the future in mind. Be sure you can add new features to your site as needed. One good example here is the WordPress platform, which can be easily extended by adding new plugins.

Last Words of Advice for Hiring a Web Designer

These questions will help you identify and hire the best web designer for your business. However, there’s always the human factor. Even though you’re putting in the effort to minimize the risk of choosing the wrong web designer, there’s no bulletproof way of knowing how you will work together.

Give your web professional a small trial project before committing yourself to a long-term website design and development project. It’s a smart move to make sure the relationship works for both parties.

Conclusion

Finding the right web designer will take some of your time, but you’ll be happy you didn’t rush this part of the process. Using our list of resources above, you can search an incredible pool of talent from all over the world.

Once you’ve found a good set of candidates, the next step is to schedule a meeting or interview and ask the right questions to make sure you’ve found the best web designer for your website and the needs of your business.

And if none of this feels right you can also give it a try yourself. There are plenty of easy to use website building tools that will only cost you a fraction of the price of a web designer. Of course, you'll have to invest your own time but it can be a very rewarding experience to create your own website.

 

Updates:

22 Jul 2020 – Added Fiverr.com
02 Jun 2020 – Codeable fees and screenshot updated. Storetasker added.

About the author


  • How To Get Online is a resource for entrepreneurs & do-it-yourselfers who want to learn about building websites and getting their business online. We publish helpful tips, reviews, and news on web technologies & trends.

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