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How to Avoid a Bad Web Designer

The Following post is a guest post from Joshua Uebergang, the marketing manager of Online Visions, a web design company specializing in ecommerce design.

There are bad mechanics, bad consultants, bad web designers. If you don’t understand the field, it’s tough to spot when someone is good at what they do or just clever with their tongue. What are the signs of a bad web designer so you can get a website you love?

Here are 5 tell-signs of a bad designer to help you find someone great:

#1 Their portfolio sucks

If you don’t like a designer’s portfolio, they may not be for you. A portfolio uglier than the backend of a beaten school bus is the obvious clue of a poor designer.

avoiding-bad-web-designers-guestpost1A portfolio is like a web designer’s child. Any decent professional cherishes his or her portfolio and wants to show it off to the world. Though their designs may not look like what you want, as long as you think their prior designs are okay, they are likely able to deliver what you’re after.

Never work with someone who doesn’t show off their portfolio. Even if they have no prior clientele, they should have developed example sites in their own time.

If you have the time, jump on the phone to briefly speak with the designer’s clients whose details you can gather from the designer’s portfolio. A conversation can go like, “I’m considering hiring [the designer] for a design. I’d love to hear your overall satisfaction with the designer. What did you like most? What problems did you encounter?”

#2 They don’t do responsive web design

You would not rely on a mechanic whose workshop you see has a few spanners. You’d think he’s a spanner.

Good web designers are up-to-date in their industry with how they do work. The trouble for you is knowing “what is up-to-date?”

One technology you should ask if they do that’s been around for a few years is responsive web design. You can learn what is responsive web design in another article I’ve written if you’re unfamiliar with it. Another is HTML5.

Poor web designers don’t keep up with technologies. Some still use crappy animated gifs.


#3 Low price

Web design is like any business. Those who charge more can because they’re in demand. You’re not guaranteed a good design if you pay a boatload for it, but don’t expect anything good for less than a good wage.

#4 Poor English

I’m not saying non-English speakers suck at web design. Good web design requires you, as a client, to clearly communicate what you want and the designer to understand this. If the web designer has poor English skills, even if their design skills are great, you’ll spend too much time communicating back and forth to fix simple errors. I think this is why a lot of smart Australian businesses now get their designs done in Australia.

Send your prospective designer an email, or call them up, explaining your project. Provide as much detail as necessary. Don’t say “I want a website design”. That’s like saying, “I need my car fixed.” What pages will you need? What features? Provide a sample design you love.

Get them to briefly reflect back their understanding of what you’re after. You’ll know if their communication skills are good enough. Most Australian designers will be.

#5 Poor phone support

Speak to your prospective web designer over the phone before a project. Ask a few questions key to your project. Poor designers are unsure, have to get back to you about a simple answer, or just don’t pick up the phone. It’s also comforting to know you can pick up the phone to speak with your designer.

Had any bad design experiences? Share them in the comments below.

Guest post from Joshua Uebergang, the marketing manager of Online Visions, a web design company specializing in ecommerce design.

Posted on August 9, 2013 by


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