How to find a website designer / developer?

Discussion in 'IT & Internet' started by Faevilangel, Nov 28, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Faevilangel

    Faevilangel Website Critic Contributor

    7,564 2,407
    This is asked on a regular basis, so thought I would make this thread to help people understand the steps.

    Website Designer / Developer! What's the difference?

    There is a huge difference, and will help you define who you would like to work with.

    A website designer (or graphic designer) mainly deals with the graphics of a website, planning the design and the usability of the website.

    A website developer is a code geek, likes to get their hands dirty and do the dirty of work of making the design come to life.

    Finding a website designer who can develop is rare, my personal opinion is that they are two different types of skill which rarely do come together.

    I personally recommend using a designer for the design, and a separate developer to do the build is recommended but this can make a project more expensive.

    Website Designers! How to find One!

    So you have decided your business needs a new website, and you would like to use a website designer / developer to develop this for you!

    Finding a website designer / developer can be a fraught process, as there are so many around and there are no recognised qualifications, so how do you differentiate Web guy 1 from web guy 2?

    Below are my main ideas on how to do this


    You can choose a website designer by location, so someone who is in local reach of your business. I personally recommend this option to many businesses as the processes when building a website can be made simpler with face to face meetings.


    Are you going to be using a certain script / skill on your website (this would have come up in your plan :cool:), if so, then looking for a developer with those skills would be beneficial.

    An example, you're looking to use WordPress for your new website, so you would look for someone who advertises the fact they develop with WordPress.


    The main thing that will differentiate web guys is their portfolio. Almost all web designers should have a portfolio for you to peruse either on their website or by request (some clients may not want their work on their web guys portfolio).

    When looking through the developers portfolio, have they done similar work before? Is their work of a high standard?


    Ask any potential web designers for details for some of their clients, and then speak to them, find out how the project went, was it on time, was it on budget, was the webby easy to reach and was the job completed to satisfaction.

    A previous client can reveal far more about a web guy than any other method.


    Ask friends or other businesses in your local area who designed / built their website.
    Look at competitors sites, see who designed it.

    Getting a personal recommendation, is more likely to help someone to make a decision to buy than any other method so do ask around. A good recommendation is worth it's weight in gold for any service business.


    Do you do business networking via a local club or one of the business networking organisations (fsb, 4networking, BNI, Chamber of commerce etc).

    Ask members if they would recommend a webby, or speak to any webby's that go along, get to know them, knowing your webby on a personal level can help with making a decision to work with them.

    Agency Vs Freelance

    Now you have your list of ways to find your webby, how you do decide which type to go for? There are 2 main types of webby, an agency, which will be made up of a team of guys and gals who will cover a large range of skills (web designer, developer, marketer etc) and will be able to run the whole project themselves and mean you have a team to go back on.

    Freelancers are generally a single person, working from home or a small shared office and generally have a limited set of skills e.g. designer. They will typically work as part of a bigger team for projects, where they will subcontract in work to do jobs they cannot do.

    A freelancer is generally cheaper than an agency, but an agency will have a team of people behind them to work on the project.

    A freelancer will have lower overall costs, and will be more specialised in their skillset and be able to be more flexible in regards to projects.
    Choosing an agency or a freelancer will depend on your project, the budget and how you think you would work better, with a single person or with a larger team.


    Choosing a designer / developer can be a minefield but if you do your research and plan your project it should go without too many issues.

    There are many, many horror stories of webbies online, so my recomendation is to make a list of 3 webbies you would like to work with, then do your research on them individually (portfolio, client feedback etc).

    This is a personal recommendation, but never pay for a project 100% upfront, always try and negotiate staged projects so you're semi-covered if something were to happen.

    Always be vigilant and expect regular updates from your webby, with progress updates.

    If anyone has anything to add, please do
    Posted: Nov 28, 2012 By: Faevilangel Member since: Jun 29, 2009
    • Thanks Thanks x 27
    • Useful Useful x 5
  2. CFreshDesign

    CFreshDesign UKBF Newcomer

    8 7
    Hi there,

    Nice post. I think it is always good to clarify the difference to other people in business. There has been numerous times I have found people are looking for a web developer when actually, they are just looking for one element of the whole project - the design.

    Most people can find someone that does both. I am a Graphic and Web Designer, with my main skill set in Design. This way all my client's know they are getting a high quality output. I also work with a web developer whose extremely knowledgeable in this field to ensure the finish products is of an all round high standard. You will find many developers are titled, "Front End Development and Design". This generally means they are excellent at the development and of course, this would be useless without having something to show for it, so do the design work.

    What I would recommend to all businesses looking for a website is to, like it says in the article, ensure you know what you are paying for. Ask for recommendations and referrals. I have lots of testimonials on my site, but I am always happy to pass on details (with the client's consent) to see how they felt the project went. For each project I do, I always get feedback anyway to improve the service I offer.

    I agree too, never pay 100% of your money. However, that is what a contract is for. So "both" parties are protected. You know where you stand and so does the company, should you have to cross any hurdles. 25%-50% is a reasonable amount to pay then when you start off, then installments is usually how I work. It works great for me, but also great for the client as they don't have to worry about a big bill at the end.

    Also ensure you know about copyrighting too. Who owns the source code, this is why T&Cs are great for that. Even at the end you don't want to pay all that money and not know who owns what.

    A great working relationship I would say is all about clarity. Ensure you know exactly what you are paying for, if need be - ask for a breakdown. After each meeting I always send an email with a breakdown of discussed events. You should do this too. Something agreed verbally may aswell not have been agreed. (In some cases, not all!)

    Anyways just a few tips from me, great article. Thanks for sharing.:)

    Come find me on twitter or view my site, C Fresh Design.

    Posted: Nov 28, 2012 By: CFreshDesign Member since: Mar 11, 2011
    • Thanks Thanks x 6
  3. edmondscommerce

    edmondscommerce Magento + PHP Expert Contributor

    3,654 624
    some good points

    for reference we are definitely in the developer camp - uber geeks in all honesty
    Posted: Nov 28, 2012 By: edmondscommerce Member since: Nov 11, 2008
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  4. glenscott

    glenscott UKBF Newcomer

    1 2
    A good way to determine whether you need a designer or a developer is to ask yourself:

    Do I need my website to do anything other than display text and image content?

    If the answer is "Yes", for example if you want to sell products or conduct surveys, then you need a web developer. Otherwise, a web designer will suffice.

    Typically, many web developers will work with web designers that they know in order to complete a project that requires both "backend" and "frontend" work. So you don't necessarily need to find both -- in fact, the developer will often prefer to work with his own trusted designers.

    If anyone is interested, I've put together a report on what to ask a freelance developer before working with them -- questions that should help to allay your fears about such a working relationship. PM me if you want to receive a copy.
    Posted: Dec 4, 2012 By: glenscott Member since: Dec 4, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  5. Glowbridge

    Glowbridge Guest

    48 17
    Always, Always, Always get a contract. Any legitimate designer/developer will have you sign one before any work begins but make sure you read it over and ask them about any clauses you aren't sure about before you sign.

    You don't have to agree to every clause, nor will every clause apply to your project. Don't be put off by this, the contracts are usually written to cover all possible eventualities and the freelancer should be willing to explain why certain clauses are included or to discuss potential changes to it.

    Over the years I've picked up a few things that I like should be in every contract ;

    • A scope - Outlines in full the requirements/specification of the project. This is what you fall back on in disputes over how complete the product is. It should be a fairly full and proper description. Don't let it just be a couple of bullet points, it needs to be clear. Is a "commenting system" some tagged on user content at the end of blogs or is it a full blown forum-esque setup? Without clarification you could find yourself arguing semantics rather than promoting your new website.
    • External Costs - Often overlooked but it should be clearly outlined who pays for the extra's that are sometimes needed. An example would be stock imagery. If an image must be purchased, do you pay it for at the time, is it added to your invoice or is it already covered in the invoice?
    • Notice - Delays can happen, accidents can happen, illness can happen.. How long before a possible delay should you be notified and what is the freelancers policy for the unexpected?

      Generally you will find these clauses heavily weighted in favour of the freelancer. Which isn't entirely unfair. My current contract says I have to give 1 weeks notice when possible but for unexpected/emergency situations I just have to make you aware of the situation. What I do then is at my own discretion, generally I would ask a colleague to complete the work if possible (at no extra cost) but I'm not obligated to do that.

      Likewise if you wish to delay completion (and possibly payment) of the project, when and how do you need to do that?
    • Clear copyright - Do you get ownership of the code? Does the freelancer have reproduction rights for their portfolio? Can you edit their code without permission?

      By default everything the freelancer creates belongs to them and they need to explicitly sign it over to you in some way. They aren't in your employ, they are selling you a product. Every freelancer does this differently but it should be outlined clearly in the contract.

      My preference is to grant the client full worldwide, unrevokable usage rights, but retain ownership. The client may use & modify everything I create for them but they may not sell it to third parties without permission.

      Reason being I create a lot of things for any project, whether it be graphics or code. I may wish to reuse those things in other client projects or in some rare occasions I may come up with something particularly clever and want to expand it into a standalone product. I need to retain my ability to do that.

      I ask the same in return for client properties, to allow me to display the site in full in my portfolio, in any way I wish.
    Posted: Dec 5, 2012 By: Glowbridge Member since: Jul 9, 2011
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  6. mobious

    mobious Contributor

    278 58
    Great points raised, most people make the mistake of using developers because they are friends or part of their networking group; pick an agency based on merits not friendships!
    Posted: Dec 5, 2012 By: mobious Member since: Nov 26, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  7. Rasta Pickles

    Rasta Pickles Contributor

    332 71
    But **always** bearing in mind that developers have a code library that they're fiercely protective of (after all, they "learned" everything they know from the likes of stackoverflow) and outside of that code base they don't know how to even present a basic webpage.

    But they want £50k a year :eek:

    Frauds, 95% of them, trust me.
    Posted: Dec 5, 2012 By: Rasta Pickles Member since: Jun 15, 2010
  8. PointandStare

    PointandStare Contributor

    925 192
    And you get paid how much for doing what pickles?
    Posted: Dec 5, 2012 By: PointandStare Member since: Apr 20, 2008
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  9. Talay

    Talay Contributor

    3,984 875
    I wouldn't lose too much sleep given the astounded shock image that £50k pa had on the fellow :)
    Posted: Dec 6, 2012 By: Talay Member since: Mar 12, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  10. Exemplaryhost

    Exemplaryhost UKBF Newcomer

    10 4
    well im a bit of both a web developer and i do the designing and i love it, i make websites for small businesses so its fairly simple stuff, plus we are affordable for small businesses that can't spend money on a having a full blown site lol.
    Posted: Dec 15, 2012 By: Exemplaryhost Member since: Dec 15, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  11. Lisa A. Pinto

    Lisa A. Pinto UKBF Newcomer

    7 1
    Look at the portfolio, testimonials of the past clients. Also look into their process of handling projects. If all is well, then go for it.
    Posted: Dec 18, 2012 By: Lisa A. Pinto Member since: Dec 6, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  12. ITsoldUK

    ITsoldUK Contributor

    2,227 666
    Excellent Post G.

    Any chance you can pop it over to me on PM and if you wish I will feature it in my website matters section.

    I will, of course refer to you via link/bio.

    Posted: Dec 19, 2012 By: ITsoldUK Member since: Sep 15, 2011
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  13. solenlil

    solenlil UKBF Newcomer

    17 0
    The working from home or a small shared office and generally have a limited set of skills of the designer. They will typically work as part of a bigger team for projects.
    Posted: Dec 20, 2012 By: solenlil Member since: Dec 20, 2012
  14. peter114

    peter114 UKBF Newcomer

    2 2
    Very nice post.
    I think, any Freelancing site can be help to find a good Web Designer or Web Developer.
    Posted: Dec 20, 2012 By: peter114 Member since: Dec 14, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  15. ITsoldUK

    ITsoldUK Contributor

    2,227 666
    Totally agree...

    ...if you want to work for 1p per hour :rolleyes:
    Posted: Dec 20, 2012 By: ITsoldUK Member since: Sep 15, 2011
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  16. james_firmsites

    james_firmsites Contributor

    596 152
    Personally I disagree with the location element as a necessity because in this day and age it is quite possible to do it entirely via phone/email. I work with clients all over the UK and while I occasionally meet with local clients (mostly for large projects) I find it easy to collect information from customers via email then discuss concepts on the phone or skype.

    I would advise people to stay VERY well clear of freelance sites. They are often full of very cheap outsourcing with poor quality, in my view.

    What I always recommend to people, along the lines of contracts is look for guarantees. So many people are locked in for 12+ contracts, big deposits etc etc I do all my sites with no minimum term, no upfront fees just a monthly fee and get so much work because of it. If your work is any good you should not need to lock people in or take cash up front! I also prefer the monthly cost model because I have an on going relationship with my customers and my survival is directly tied to providing an on going good service. Finally I give people a free trial so they can try before they buy, sure I get the occasional time waster but mostly I get very grateful SME's who get to save money...

    Not saying this as an advert for my business, but more because there are now lots of similar companies where they offer monthly fees (not site builders, I am talking bespoke sites for monthly fees) and would always suggest people give them a go, after all you are only risking hundreds instead of thousands (or nothing for those doing free trials).

    I would also say be most careful of sending deposits outside the UK, losing UK legal protection is a big deal.

    Well thats my 2 cents :)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
    Posted: Dec 21, 2012 By: james_firmsites Member since: Dec 20, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  17. Guest

    0 0
    You can also go down the diy website design. Even GoDaddy has its own easy to use website out of a box and has a current offer of a free domain for every website.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2012
    Posted: Dec 21, 2012 By: Member since: Jan 1, 1970
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  18. FIZIX Agency

    FIZIX Agency Contributor

    754 239
    Great thread, I wouldn't say freelancers are always specialised, they can be (ie in a specific niche area), but rarely in a whole field (ie designer or developer) as its such a massive field these days.

    I'm not sure if that's relevant.

    Someone who cares about their web assets won't use a DIY service as they are very limited and have no individuality. DIY services are really for your localised small business types who arent goint to gain anything meaningful from a website and just need a website to show their contact details and say "hey I'm here".
    Posted: Dec 30, 2012 By: FIZIX Agency Member since: Jul 9, 2012
  19. Contributor

    2,586 707
    I'd like to add to the confusion by also saying there is a difference between a HTML/CSS web developer coder and a software developer coder. HTML and CSS are page layout coding languages, mainly determining "what a page looks like", whereas other coding languages like PHP, SQL, Javascript are software programming languages for programming functionality or "what a website does". So there can still be 2 very different types of coders/developers in the web world. And this is still an over-simplified description of a complex scenario, for instance Javascript used in a certain way, can just adds cosmetics to a website, more "what a page looks like" than "what it does".

    Generally, get the coders with the right skills for the job in question.

    Well said! I've written some posts on this forum in the past about website briefs and client-supplier contracts.

    Also be aware in semi-bespoke solution scenarios, i.e. multi-supplier scenarios based on an existing package from one supplier and some custom development work by another supplier, who is taking responsibility for what. And be aware that if the custom work supplier is not taking responsibility for an open source package it is generally you who is taking responsibility for the open source package, since most open source package licences state that they offer no guarantee of being fit for purpose, they are free after all!
    Posted: Dec 30, 2012 By: Member since: Dec 21, 2006
  20. FIZIX Agency

    FIZIX Agency Contributor

    754 239
    The JavaScript, jquery, html5 issue comes down to UI/UX designers and developers which are specific fields within their own rights. Like I said previously, which I'll elaborate on. Back in the day the web was quite simple but today its a broad area with loads of individual specialisms such as UI and UX.

    This is one problem where agencies and studios offer a distinct benefit. Our typical client wouldn't have a clue what specialisms they actually need beyond a general archetype such as designer, developer, app developer. Agencies tend to have most or all skills in house or via their network of "go to guys", so take that burden away from the client as they know what they want but the agency deals with the problem of getting there.

    If a provider didnt require a contract or a client didnt want to sign one, that would be a deal breaker.

    That's a very good point and can put all involved in a slightly uncomfortable predicament. I would say that you should have quite a comprehensive ongoing plan in place for the provider to support, and to use a provider who can support the product.

    Just delivering say magento and treating it as an install, skin, add extensions and there you go is very dangerous.
    Posted: Dec 30, 2012 By: FIZIX Agency Member since: Jul 9, 2012
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.