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10 Tips to Choosing a Freelance Web Designer

Posted by: Karl Bowers
With the freelance industry becoming more popular than ever, there is no shortage of candidates to choose from. Simply doing a Google search for ' freelance web designer ' in your area is guaranteed to produce an abundance of results. So it's really important that you do some initial groundwork, in order to choose the right person for your project. Below are some useful pointers to consider:

1. Do they have an online portfolio website?

Most web freelancers these days have their own unique business website, typically with a portfolio section listing a number projects they have currently / previously worked on. This will give you a good indication of the type of projects they can deliver. Ideally you should be looking for a project in their portfolio that closely matches what you are looking for in terms of your potential project.

2. What type of clients do they work with?

Some freelancers work exclusively with design / marketing agencies, some work directly with small / medium businesses, and some will work with both. It's important that you find this out, as it can be a good indicator as to whether they are potentially suitable for your project.

3. Do some research prior to contact.

Prior to making initial contact with a freelancer, it is advisable to provide as much clear and concise information as possible, in terms of design and functionality required for your project. Providing reference to other existing websites is extremely useful. For example you may see the functionality you require on one existing website, and a nice design style on another. It's also worth making the effort to compile a list of questions to ask a freelancer prior to making contact.

4. What are their skill sets?

It's really important that you establish what skill sets the freelancer has. Do they offer the following core services:
  • A Design Service (To produce the look and feel of a website).
  • A Build Service (To physically build and develop the website).
  • Search Engine Optimisation (Commonly referred to as SEO).
  • Website Hosting / Domain Registration services.
  • After care support services (for on-going website updates / maintenance).
Do they offer the following styles of website build?
  • Brochure Style Websites.
  • CMS (Content Management System) Websites.
  • E-Commerce Websites.

5. Are they good communicators?

It's absolutely crucial to pick a freelancer that is:
  • A good listener.
  • Provides helpful advice / feedback.
  • Promptly replies to phone calls / emails.
Even if a certain potential freelancer appears to have a slightly less impressive skill set but is a really good communicator and is very easy to get on with, this alone is worth it's weight in gold. It's essential that you have good relationship moving forward, as you will be working with this person for a certain period of time, and possibly for a much longer duration (depending on future requirements of your project). By discussing your project via email / phone you should get a good idea if the freelancer is a good fit for your project. You are ideally looking for someone who can provide detailed and helpful feedback from day one of contact. Of course a freelancers time is extremely precious, so the more prepared you are with the information about your project, the better feedback you will receive earlier on in the process.

6. Check for testimonials / feedback.

A freelance web designers reputation is vital in order to gain future business, so it's common pratice to showcase at least several testimonials from existing customers. Take the time to check out their website for testimonials, some freelancers will even provide references via email if requested.

7. Are they recommended?

If the potential freelancer is local to you, do you know anyone who has used them already? Referral is usually one of the safest options to go by as you can assess the work the freelancer has done for the known client, plus you get to ask them directly for feedback.

8. Asking for a quotation.

When requesting a quotation, a good freelancer should provide a detailed breakdown assessment of your project, indicating the initial stages of development required with the associated costs clearly indicated. Remember if you do some initial research beforehand this will help the potential freelancer to provide a clearer more detailed project quotation.

9. What is their availability / work schedule?

Always check what a freelancers availability is. If your project is fairly urgent, there is no point hiring someone who won't be able to start the project for the next month or so. On the other hand your project may have a longer lead time to get it sorted, so you can discuss ideal time lines and milestones for your project.

10. What is their payment method?

Freelance payment methods can vary, but the most common ones are:
  • An initial up-front deposit, then remainder of payment on completion of project.
  • Initial payment for each completed stage of the project.
Of course a freelancer may advise a payment option based on the type of project that is required. For example for a small website project a 50% deposit / 50% on completion method of payment may be requested, but on a large-scale project interim payments for each completed stage of the project may be the preferred option.

To summarise:

Choosing the right candidate for your project is not neccessarily an easy choice to make as there are so many factors to consider. However by following the above pointers you should get a clearer idea of what to look for when making your decision moving forward.
Posted by: Karl Bowers in Freelance | General | Web Design

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