Content Marketing

How to Select a Web Designer

A friend of mine asked me in an email, can you recommend a web designer for me? I paused for a minute… I know a ton of web designers – everything from brand experts, to local graphic designers, to content management systems developers, to social networking experts, to complex integration, enterprise and architecture developers.

I responded, “What are you trying to achieve?”

I won’t go into details on what the response was nor what my recommendations were, but it was really evident that:

  1. The client did not know what they were trying to achieve with their web site.
  2. The web design firms they had connected with were simply pushing their portfolios and awards.

There are more kinds of web designers out there than I can describe, but the best ones will start their conversations with, “What are you trying to achieve?” Depending on the answer, they’ll know whether or not your business is a fit with theirs, and ultimately whether or not they’ll be successful at meeting your objectives. Ask for and follow up with their recent clients to find references for other clients they’ve worked with who had the same objectives as yours to find out how it was to work with them.

Are you a small company trying to look like a big one? Are you trying to build brand awareness? Search engine placement? Is your company trying to build a portal to communicate with clients? With prospects? Are you using other tools and services you’d like to automate and integrate through your website?

Basing your Web Design on a dollar amount and a portfolio is a dangerous game. Chances are that you’ll be shopping soon enough as technologies advance and you find your site isn’t meeting its needs. The best designers typically find a popular framework to build your site on so that it can expanded as new requirements come to fruition. The best designers will look to build a relationship, not a contract. The best designers will utilize the highest web standards and cross-browser compliance.

Get used to web design costs being an ongoing budget rather than a one-time expense. Get used to continuous improvement rather than timely completion of an overall project. I would rather add a feature a month for a year than wait a year for my site to go live!

Choose your Web Designer carefully. I know there are a lot of great designers (and a lot of crappy ones). More often than not, though, I’ve found that a disastrous web design project has more to do with the match of the web designers strengths to the objectives of the organization.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.


  1. Doug,

    Well said! I have seen too many web designers and web companies worry more about how they can push up a budget on a a site as opposed to how they can really help the client gain the most value for their site.


  2. I think what makes it so very hard is there are a lot of people out there claiming to be web designers when really don’t have the creativity, understanding of code, or up to date knowledge.

    Recently someone I know called up a local guy for an estimate for a site for his business. This “designers” own personal page, as well as his portfolio, consisted of websites with tables instead of using css. His quote for a 5 page site was $1000. Now that’s just scary.

    1. Amen to that. And it’s those so-called designers who give truly talented folks a bad name.

      On the flip side, there’s clients who think that the “bottom line” (cost) is the only thing that matters. You get what you pay for in most cases. Then, of course, when they’ve gone to that bargain-basement web designer and the site’s been delivered, it doesn’t do what it should do and instead of blaming his own cut-rate web designers, he decides that all web designers are nothing more than overpaid rip-off artists. Rinse, lather, repeat.

      Someone hold my drink while I climb down off my soapbox!

  3. True. Its not just good web designers that one needs. Its streamlining your needs with the suitable design keeping in mind your sense of purpose with the website which is going to help.

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