How To Pick The Best WordPress Designer

Top down view of a laptop on a desk with drawing tools sprawled out around it.

The mark of a great website is that it proves to be a good return on investment. When planning out that kind of website design project, a lot of boxes need to be checked. You’ll need to ensure that the site is fast and secure. You need to have the option to make updates when you need to do so. The site needs to function well and provide an optimal user experience for visitors. 

And on top of all of that, it needs to look good. That is where a designer comes in. Great designers know how to meld aesthetics and functionality to create an experience people love. 

Luckily, the WordPress CMS is optimized to get you further ahead with all those goals. That is why we recommend working with WordPress designers over all! 

Figuring out how to pick the best WordPress designer for your project can be a daunting task. There are a lot of factors to consider. How can you determine the perfect person? 

In this post we’re going to touch on all the things you should do to prepare for picking the best WordPress designers. (Although the following can be applied to designers of any type!) We’re going to talk about what things to look for when researching and hiring. We’re going to talk about important red flags to avoid. Then, we’ll run through a short list of places you can find great designers online.


Let’s get started!

What to Do Before Picking Your WordPress Designer 

There are a few things you should read up on and collect before you start interviewing website designers. The entire process will be easier if you know what you need ahead of time. This will make it much easier for you to rule out designers who don’t fit.

Start by doing some research. 

Examine the websites of some WordPress designers to see what kinds of services they offer. Gauge the average cost of their website projects; it’s good to have a ballpark idea of cost first. Look into the things you need vs. the things you already have, like a logo, hosting, or domain name. Look at other websites in your industry and compile a list of links that you can use as visual inspiration.

Next, collect information about what you need for your site. 

That way you can make sure the designer you choose can match those needs. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How big does your site need to be? How many pages or posts will it be?
  • What is your timeline? Is there a set date or time of year by which the website needs to be done?
  • What is your budget? What is the amount you’d like to spend and the maximum amount you can spend?
  • What are some must-haves in terms of functionality? These are things that are non-negotiable and top priority.
  • What are some nice-to-haves in terms of functionality? These might be things you can add on in the future.
  • Do you need graphic design, copywriting, or SEO services, too?

Write down all your answers in one place. Have these questions ready when you start chatting with designers. Knowing this information ahead of time can help you rule out some designers as you look through their websites.

Also, give some thought to what kind of experience you’re looking for. 

You might be working with this designer for months. It’s important that you can get along with them and communicate well with them. It doesn’t hurt to find someone who has things in common with you! 

Also, think about the process you want. Are you looking for someone you can hire and set loose? Maybe you need this person to work with your team or an assistant most of the time. Or perhaps you want to be directly involved and have lots of one-on-one learning time with this designer.  

Knowing what to expect and what kind of relationship you want will help you gauge which personality type fits your goals best.

What to Look for When Picking the Best WordPress Designer

There are a lot of ways to qualify the designers you are considering or interviewing. Keep the following points in mind when comparing designers against each other. The importance of each of these points may vary depending on you, your project, and your business. 

Reviews and Testimonials

A website is a big investment. When you buy expensive items in your personal life, don’t you usually read a few reviews first? It’s important to determine how other clients feel about this person and what issues you may need to look out for.

Check out their website or any public review sites you can find them on. They may have a Facebook page with reviews or a LinkedIn profile with endorsements. Read through reviews and testimonials left by previous clients. What phrases or sentences are repeated often? If there are bad reviews, do they have things in common with each other, too? Reading reviews will give you a strong idea of this person’s strengths and weaknesses.

Also, check out the designer’s social media presence if they have one. If they have profiles where clients are interacting with them and tagging them, that’s a great bonus! If they don’t have any social media presence at all, that may be a red flag. (More on red flags later!)

Examine at Their Design Portfolio

A great designer is usually someone who is really, really good at designing within a certain style or industry in mind. Some designers specialize in ecommerce sites, restaurant sites, nonprofit sites, lifestyle blogs, etc. Finding a designer who can do “anything” should not be your goal. Know what kind of site you need ahead of time, then find a designer who caters to your industry.

This is not only important because it means they are familiar with your goals. It also means they are familiar with your audience. If they have designed a ton of sites for makeup artists, they probably have done a good amount of research into what someone is looking for when they come to a makeup artist’s website. This background means they can design with success in mind, not just aesthetics. 

Look at a designers portfolio to make sure that they have built sites in your industry before. It’s helpful if they have not only worked with your industry, but your desired style or tone. For example, if you run a high-end 5-star Japanese restaurant, someone who builds websites for local Mom and Pop pizzarias may not be a great fit, even though they have worked with restaurants.

Look for sites in their portfolio with similar functionality as well. If you need a WordPress site, make sure that WordPress is their speciality. If they primarily work with another CMS, they may not know very much about WordPress and may not be the best fit. If you need the site to be marketing heavy, or include a membership option, make sure they are familiar with those types of user experiences.

Give Serious Thought to Budget

This one is pretty straightforward: can you afford this person? There is no one “right cost” for a website. However, typically you can expect to get what you pay for. Paying more for a better website is almost always worth it. 

That being said, beware of overcharging. This is where it pays to research average costs and compare multiple designers. If you understand what a good ballpark is for a site of your needs, you can see exorbitant rates from a mile away.

Really zero in on what you are getting for the cost. For example, when interviewing a designer, ask them how they price their sites. Some price on how long they think the site will take to deesign. Some use activity based pricing, where each piece of the project is priced individually and then added up. If you can understand how the project is priced, you can truly understand the value of the work. If the designer can’t share how they arrived at the price, that may be a red flag.

Also find out what that designer may charge extra for. Some designers will foot the bill for specialized imagery or fonts. Some might charge extra. Some may help you get discounts on things like hosting and domain names, and some may not. 

Functionality 

While the design is an important part of a website, it’s not everything. Ensure that the designer keeps functionality and conversions in mind, as well as aesthetics. Pretty sites that don’t bring your business any benefit are not worth it. 

Ask the designer what their approach is to using color, imagery, and spacing within their designs. Do they have case studies you can read about how their designs created more conversions? Do they have examples of how a design they created improved a website’s functionality?

Some WordPress website designers don’t build sites, but just provide a design. This means they may send you a flat image that a developer can then build out. If this designer does not also build the site, ask about referral partners. Do they have developers they can recommend to you? Can they make recommendations for software you can use to build out the design themselves? Even if the designer just provides designs, they should be able to get you on your way to launch.

Project Style and Process

No two designers will take you through a website design project in exactly the same way. Everyone has their own method, process, and style. Remember that no one way is “correct.” But some may be better suited for you than others. 

Most designers will use a Discovery Call in order to explain their project style and process. They may even detail it out on their website. If you’re unsure, here are some good questions to ask:

  • How do they handle changes to the scope of the project? For instance, if you wanted to add a new page halfway through, what is the process for doing that?
  • How flexible is their timeline? If you needed to speed up the project for some reason, what is the process for doing that?
  • How many opportunities for revisions do you get? When do revisions start to incur extra charges?
  • Do they provide any website maintenance plans after launch? If not, can they refer someone to you?
  • What is their availability for questions and education before, during, and after the project?
  • Are they a designer and developer or just a designer? If they are a developer too, how could that affect the cost and timeline? 
  • What method of communication do they prefer? For example: phone, email, project management tool, etc.
  • When are they available for meetings or calls? How often can you schedule reviews with them?

Once you  have a full understanding of what the project process looks like, you are well on your way to finding your perfect designer. 

Red Flags to Avoid When Picking Designers

While researching and interviewing designers, keep an eye out for these red flags. These are not guaranteed signals that this designer isn’t good. But if they start to stack up, it’s time to move on!

Lots of bad reviews, all 5-star reviews, or no reviews at all

We talked before about the importance of reviews. When scoping out testimonials, there should be a healthy mix. Ideally, you want as many 5 star reviews as possible. But if they have a ton of reviews that are all 5 stars, that could be a red flag. They may be deleting or hiding negative reviews, which is not a good practice. 

Obviously, you want to avoid designers with a ton of bad reviews. An exception may be if those reviews are very old and the newer ones are better. That means they have learned from mistakes and done the work to improve. Personally, I would see this as a green flag!

And of course be suspicious if there are no reviews anywhere that you can read. This may mean that all their reviews are negative, or they are too new to have earned any yet. While hiring new or young designers is not a bad thing, changes are, you want someone with a good amount of experience.

Poor business website 

If their sales website for their services is poorly designed, that is a huge red flag. We all know the common phrase: “The cobbler’s kids never have shoes.” But that saying does have a limit. 

If their site is difficult to use, buggy, or slow, it’s possible your site may turn out that way too. Make sure their site is mobile responsive as well. Look for typos, generic fonts, and ugly stock photography. These will all give you an indication of their design style and attention to detail.

Can do anything or work with any CMS

No one is an expert at everything! It’s just impossible. 

If you encounter someone who says they can build any website with any CMS or is an expert in all software under the sun… walk the other way! It’s impossible to be truly proficient on every platform. If a designer claims otherwise, they might not be being honest. 

If they deliver sites on multiple CMS’s, they are probably cheaply outsourcing the work or making it up as they go along. At the end of the day, it will mean a poorly designed website for you.

Fixed cost websites

Avoid people who advertise too-good-to-be-true sales like “Any size website for $500!” This probably means that you will get a templated site without much care and attention. And even if the site itself is $500, you might find yourself with unexpected costs and fees down the line. 

If you are looking for the best WordPress designers, those are the ones who build sites custom. That doesn’t mean coded from scratch. But it doesn mean that they take what is special about you and your business into account. A good site should be uniquely priced depending on how long it will take and how much work is required.  

Where to Find Great WordPress Designers 

To wrap up, here are some good places to seek out WordPress designers. This is not a comprehensive list, but a great place to start! Is there a resource you enjoy for finding designers – comment below to let us know! 

Underrepresented in Tech

The Underrepresented in Tech database is an independent project created by WordPress community members. You can search the database and find people from underrepresented groups (women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.) who work in WordPress. “Website design” is a specialization you can search for to narrow down your search results.

Upwork

You may have heard of this site before. Upwork is a popular database which you can use for finding freelance talent. Many people on Upwork are highly experienced and extremely serious about their work. The Upwork database provides you with easy to find reviews, portfolios, and more.

Jobs.WordPress.org

When looking exclusively for WordPress designers, you can narrow your search on jobs.wordpress.org. In this database you can narrow your search to find designers and developers, as well as professionals to help with theme customization, writing, performance, and more. The one thing they all have in common – they specialize in WordPress!

codeable.io

Codeable.io is a WordPress freelancer platform that connects those looking for designers and developers with talented professionals. Their process allows for you to provide a description of what you are looking for in regards to your project and then get quotes from those in their database. It’s a great way to go through the entire process of hiring a WordPress designer very fast.

Twitter

A big chunk of the WordPress community is on Twitter. It’s a popular place for people to chat, exchange ideas, ask and answer questions, and live tweet events. Send out a call for WordPress designers (make sure to use the #WordPress hashtag!) 

Word of Mouth

Like most freelancers, many WordPress site designers get jobs through referrals. Ask any friends or colleagues with nice sites who built theirs. Chances are, you’ll get a few solid recommendations just by asking around your professional circles. 

Footer of other sites you like

If you stumble across a website that you like out in the wild, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the site. Many website designers will add their company name and a link to their own website in the footer. You can follow this link to see who built the site and how to get in touch with them.

Did we forget any important factors when it comes to searching for the best WordPress designer? Did we leave off any vital red flags? If so, leave them in a comment below!

And don’t forget – when you’ve found your perfect designer, your WordPress site still needs hosting! Look for hosting that is lightning fast, has active support, and prioritizes security. If you don’t put care into also picking the best WordPress hosting, you are wasting your beautiful site design. 

Cloud22 checks every box. We manage your updates – making sure that when your theme developer releases an update or patch, you get it right away. We back up your site, just in case you make a wrong move in your theme settings.  Our servers are integrated with LiteSpeed cache and Cloudflare CDN, so the beautiful design you used your theme to build is served to visitors quickly.

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