Ready to hire a website designer? How to find an ethical website designer – and 5 red flags to look out for when deciding

Having your website built is a big deal. Apart from the financial investment, it can often be a very personal labour of love, with lots of soul-searching about your business’s future to be answered before the design process can start.

And once you’ve decided to hire a website designer, it can be a nerve-wracking time. Are they going to do a good job for you? Are they going to deliver what they promise? Are they going to charge you more than you need to pay? Are they going to finish the job?  Are you going to love your site once they’ve finished?

Finding affordable, experienced website designers you can trust is sadly a little more difficult than you might hope, and if you run a business that prides itself on upholding values like integrity and transparency, it can be even harder.  

But ethical, trustworthy AND talented website designers are out there; you just need to know where to find them. This article gives you my top tips for finding the right website designer for your values-led business and highlights some red flags to look out for when hiring a website designer.

What should you expect your website designer to do?

Website designers do a lot more than creating websites that look beautiful. While a good-looking website is important, your designer needs to do a lot more for you behind the scenes when designing and building your site.

  • A website designer needs to understand your business goals, target audience, and brand identity so they can design a site that will help you get where you want to go and appeal to your target audience.
  • They need to be experienced and confident to deliver a website that does what you need it to do, in short, a website that runs smoothly, functions seamlessly, and meets all your requirements, without glitching.
  • Website designers should make sure the navigation and page structure around your site are easy and intuitive to create the best user experience for your visitors.
  • A website designer needs to understand your business goals, target audience, and brand identity so they can design a site that will help you get where you want to go and appeal to your target audience.
  • They should also make sure your site has clear calls to action and can put in place SEO best practices to improve your chances of being found online.
  • A good web designer should also incorporate appropriate safety and security measures to protect your website and its data from potential threats like hacking, malware, and cyber-attacks.
  • They should ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly, as more and more users are accessing the web from their smartphones and tablets.

What makes a web designer ethical?

Perhaps a better question is what makes a business ethical. I see an ethical business as one that upholds values like respect for its clients and employees, is honest in all its business dealings, upholds and respects the commitments it makes, is accountable to itself and its clients, and is responsible and respectful of the information it has access to.

So, an ethical website designer is transparent in all their practices, particularly around pricing and timelines. They respect their clients’ businesses and values and responsibly handle access to their client’s information and content. They also take security issues seriously. 

An ethical designer also ensures that any website they build upholds web accessibility standards to ensure it is usable for all people and serves their client’s needs without compromising on legal or moral standards.

Tips for hiring an ethical website designer

There are hundreds of thousands of website designers out there, so finding the right one for you is going to take a bit of work, but with some thorough research and careful vetting, you will find them.

Here are some tips for finding the right website designer for you:

> Do your research:

Start by looking at potential designers’ portfolios and reading reviews from previous clients. Check out their websites to get a sense of their work and look at their social media or LinkedIn profiles for insights into their style and professionalism.

> Assess their work:

Look at how their previous projects perform in terms of design, functionality, and user feedback. This can help you gauge how well they’ll be able to translate your brand vision into your web design.

> Meet with them:

Perhaps most importantly, meet up with your potential designers either online or in person. This will show you a lot about their working style, commitment to deadlines, and handling of client input. It will give you a good sense of whether you can work and communicate with them. Ask detailed questions to understand their process and ethics.

To make this process a little easier, here are some great questions you might want to ask potential website designers.

Checklist of questions to ask potential website designers:

  • Can you walk me through your design process?
  • How do you handle revisions or changes during the project?
  • What is your timeline for a project like this?
  • How do you structure your pricing and payment terms?
  • Can you show me some examples of projects you have completed that are similar to what I’m looking for?
  • What do you need from me to get started?
  • How do you handle data security and privacy in your designs?
  • What support do you offer after the website goes live?
  • If I want to go ahead, what are the next steps?

5 red flags to watch out for

While you’re doing your research and interviewing potential website designers, follow your instincts and don’t ignore your gut feelings. You’ll know when you find the right person for you.

But these red flags are worth looking out for, and if you spot them, I’d advise looking elsewhere for your perfect website designer.

1. Lack of a portfolio or references:

A professional website designer should always be able to showcase a strong portfolio and be willing to provide references and reviews.

2. Overpromising results:

Be careful of designers who guarantee specific business outcomes, like big increases in engagement or sales, without being able to back it up with results they’ve had for others or without a clear outline of how they’ll achieve them.

3. Unclear or vague pricing structures:

Ethical website designers will be upfront about costs. Ambiguity in pricing could indicate hidden fees.

4. No contract:

A contract protects both parties by clearly outlining the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, payment terms, and intellectual property rights. It also helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures a smooth working relationship right from the start.

5. Pushy sales techniques:

An ethical website designer will never pressure you into signing up for services you don’t need or rush your decision-making process.

Now you’re ready to hire a website designer!

When you’re ready to hire a website designer, trusting your instinct is key, but doing your research, assessing their work, and, most importantly, meeting with them will all help you make your final decision.

Finding someone who aligns with your values and who you feel is, above all, ethical in their business dealings will transform what can be a challenging experience into one you can enjoy and get excited about.

Your business is about to be born; you want someone by your side who you can trust and talk to. Take your time to find just the right person you want to take this journey with.

And as a values-led website designer myself, please do get in touch if you’re curious about hiring me to build your website. I’d be very happy to discuss my skills, show you my portfolio, and, of course, jump on a free no-obligation call to answer any questions you might have.

Just click here to schedule a call or leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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