How to Hire a Good Designer and Developer


Finding a good web designer and/or developer isn’t easy. For the past 6 or 7 years, I have been through two dozen designers and several developers and eventually, I learned that if you have the budget it’s easier to work with development shops like these guys.

When it came to choosing talented employees or contractors, I made a lot of mistakes. Eventually, I got it right.

You are probably wondering what changed. Well, after making several bad hiring decisions that cost us over 6 figures, we eventually figured out what to look for and where to find talented employees.

So, let’s start with how to find a good web designer.

Finding a good web designer

Currently, the best place to look for a web designer is CSS galleries. In the future, it will probably be 99designs, which is a rapidly growing crowd sourcing site. CSS galleries are very picky about what designs they showcase.

When you go through galleries like Unmatched Style, you’ll notice that a lot of the showcased designs aren’t from web design agencies. Generally speaking, they are just random websites from the web. In some instances, at the bottom of these sites, you will find a link to the firm responsible for the design.

If you like a design and can’t find a link to the designer, send an email to the Webmaster. Maybe you will get a response. You can also do a Google search for “WEBSITE NAME web design”.

Once you have a list of potential web design firms or individuals you like, here is what you need to do:

  • Step 1: You need to figure out what you want designed. Even if you are looking for something as simple as a blog design, you need to figure out what elements you want on the page.
  • Step 2: Whether you are designing a corporate website or a blog, there will be content on your website. A good designer will not write your content for you, so start figuring out what message you want to convey.
  • Step 3: Go through each designer’s portfolio and see if you like the majority of their work. Just because one of their designs is really good doesn’t mean all of them are.
  • Step 4: After you have narrowed down your list, give the rest of the designers a call and find out their rates and availability.
  • Step 5: Before you hire a designer or a firm, test the waters. Tell them what you are looking for and your project requirements. If they keep saying okay to everything (especially if you have a somewhat dumb idea), you shouldn’t hire them. The last thing you want is a designer that will design what you want instead of what your customers want.
  • Step 6: By this step, I know you are anxious to get started, but you have to be patient. This is the time to ask for references. Call the companies the designer previously worked with and make sure they were happy with the finished product.
  • Step 7: After you have placed the phone calls, you can now test the designer. The best way to do this is to break your design project into pieces. For example, first have wire frames designed, then a mock-up, and then a coded version of your site with minimal features. If that last step goes well, you can have your designer finish the job by adding all the bells and whistles. Using this approach will get the designer to move quicker, and if you don’t like the design, at least you didn’t spend your entire budget on it.

Finding a good web developer

The process of finding a good web developer is similar to finding a good web designer. Most good developers won’t be jacks-of-all-trades. So, when you ask them to also design for you or write some of your website copy, they won’t.

The sad part about finding a good developer or web development agency is that places like CSS galleries for developers don’t exist. To find them, you typically have to look for successful software companies and see who they use.

You’ll probably have to do a few hundred Google queries (COMPANY NAME web developer) and browse sites like LinkedIn to come up with a decent list of developers. This process is going to be time consuming, but there aren’t any easy solutions yet.

Once you have a list of potential web developers, here is what you need to do:

  • Step 1: Before you talk to any web developer, you need to know what you want to build. Having an idea in your head isn’t good enough. You need to write everything down. List every feature you want to have, and detail how you would like the software to work.
  • Step 2: Now that you know what your needs are and how to find a good web designer, you need to hire one. Before the first piece of code is written, you want to have at least a rough version of the design completed. By having this, you’ll make the developer’s job much easier because they’ll know what the user’s experience should be.
  • Step 3: Make sure the developer codes in a software language you like. I typically go for common languages like PHP because if you lose the developer, you can find another. If you go with an uncommon coding language, you may not be able to find a replacement.
  • Step 4: Set up a phone call with the remaining people on your list to figure out their pricing and availability. What you’ll notice is that most developers like to charge an hourly rate, but you want to nail them down with a fixed cost. This way if they need extra time to complete a task, you don’t owe them any more money, but if they finish early, they’re entitled to all of the money you promised.
  • Step 5: Similarly to finding a good web designer, you want to test the waters with your web developer too. If your developer is okay with building a feature-bloated product, he or she is probably a bad hire. There is nothing wrong with hiring someone who is opinionated.
  • Step 6: Before you close the deal with the developer, you want to check some of his or her references and make sure other companies were happy with the developer’s service. I know most references typically say good things about employees, but you’ll have to learn to read between the lines and ask the right questions.
  • Step 7: Now it’s time to hire the developer of your choice. When you do hire, make sure you piecemeal it and split the project into as many small parts as possible. This way if you aren’t happy, you can cut your developer early. By breaking the project into small parts, you’ll be able to see the output from the developer more quickly and speed up the development process.


Even if you follow all of these steps, you’ll still make mistakes and make a bad hire every once in a while. But your chances of finding a good designer or developer should be drastically higher now.

If you get lucky, like my business partner and I did, and find some really good talent, do whatever you can to keep them happy and never let them go.

Any if you have the budget, what I do these days is just hire development shops like TableXI who take care of both design and development, but again it’s not the cheapest, but it is very relaible and effective.

P.S. If you want help with designs that can help your website convert better click here.


  1. When I found my web developer I looked for one locally. I outsource my project but i need to be able to meet with him and get in touch with him in person.

    Unless you are really looking for a serious design i suggest you post a job on craiglist you can find a young talented college student ad pay half the price. I would do this if you are just looking for webdesign that is easy like a blog or static website.

    If you are looking for more coding you will definitely have to do more research.

    Good Post!

    Brian P

    • I completely disagree here. I would never go to a college student and pay half the price because they’re still studying and won’t have half of the skill of what most designers do.

      Most of the time you are paying for what you get. If you go to a college student, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find a well-read, talented designer who will provide you with exactly what you need. Although, this works both ways. Just because you’re paying x amount, doesn’t mean you’re going to get a good job! There are a lot of ‘designers’ out there who are charging a lot of money for a poor job. For example: So be very wary of these too!

      My current portfolio doesn’t show my design skill at all, all of the designs are outdated, for the past three months I’ve been working on an update for my site, so please don’t judge me by that.

      • Yeah, I am agree with you, Luke Jones. Because we don’t need to looks important to the price of design. The important things is to build the web design all you want. Another that, Brian P I am agree with you, I must found out the local designer and make clear to him what design is you want to do.

        • I am getting my website redesigned and it will be done by Dec 5. I got a college student that is getting his masters to do my job. Now I dont just hire anybody I look at their work first.

          Like most people starting blogs they don’t invest a lot of money into design or their website either. Trust me you can definitely find quality work for real cheap.

          For example the guy who is designing my website has also built Now tell me that is not a professional design.

          He drew my design in PSD’s first and if I liked it he said he will convert it into html.

          Brian P

          • That’s excellent Brian… I saw the site he designed and I think it looks awesome. Let us know when he’s done designing yours.

            • Ok so december 5th was a little to early as I stated before…. I think I will be showing it off in 1 week. Getting it ready for the NEW YEAR!!!!

              I will post it next week just didnt want people to think I was BSing…. Just a lot of coding in the backend. : )

              • I understand completely…. good luck!

                • Here is my new design it is completed.


                  I guess when it comes to finding a web designer it is important that you have basic html and css skills and that will save you a lot of time and money. For this project he only designed the front page which also goes into the same script.

                  Then I have to retrofit the design into my wordpress blog, gaming website which I still have to do some tweaks. But all in all finding a craiglist designer will be cheaper is great if you have the skills to do some stuff on your own.

                  This saves a lot of time and money!!

                  Happy Holidays!

                  • I think it looks fantastic… when you crack the safe… what happens?

                    • Well for non members it is a promotional merchandise…. For members the script is now setup to give the member points to their credits account and the top points for the month wins a prize.. but I am trying to incorporate instant win prizes like my scratch card.. This all fully rolling out in 2010 still doing a lot of tweaking in the system.

                      I am trying to roll out something for March Madness Too! That’s where I wanna blow this company up!

                      Thanks for looking though i greatly appreciate it.

        • The most important part here guys is that you’re very specific with exactly what you’re looking for. If you aren’t, you’ll end up spending more than you originally wanted to.

          • Can you recommend website designer for me to my website ?

            • Check out the websites I recommended above.

              • I have already checked it out. I think the budget and the price why around $ 10,000 for Haystack ? What my website design should be make a change ? My budget is around USD 300.

                • I suggest you take a look at sites like elance… Your budget is fine, but you can’t really expect too much from it. However, it can help you start your journey toward success 🙂

                  • Thank you so much. But I don’t know how to using Elance to find the suitable designer ?

                    • Go to and talk to their customer services… it’ll become quite easy and simple once they teach you.

      • Yea but honestly if I was searching for a freelancer I would not hire you.

        When trying to convert for businesses you do not need an elaborate design just a good CTA.

        I suggest you spice up your site a bit. The colors hurt my eyes.

        Brian P

        • I agree with Neil about being specific when it comes to laying out what you want. The experienced designer might be stuck in his ‘old’ ways, the student less experienced but with radical ideas.
          I think if you look at it soberly, you can come up with a great designer, experienced/established or not, as long as they prove they can get the job done to your specs.
          Thanks Neil, for helping us narrow it all down. Love the green 😉

      • Don’t expect to get something amazing, but don’t completely disregard the idea. They’re are plenty of incredibly smart college students who are amazing designers that would work for less… but the same rule applies still about being careful with who you choose.

      • marcus@how to make money online :

        I would tend to disagree. Creating a static website is not brain surgery. There are tons of college students you are taking graphic arts web design and other similar courses that are more than capable of creating a good static website.

        • Well there maybe some… but the majority of them are definitely far from it… that’s why you need to interview who you’re going to choose for the project.

        • I am sure that you can find out a great designer among college students, but the odds to find a really good one are bigger if you search with the criteria that Neil described. College students also need a chance, but that depends only on the individual who is willing to give them a try.

      • Great article as usual Neil…

        @ Luke…
        I’ve been designing websites since long before my college education. In regards to hiring a college student, I feel it’s more an issue of experience than skill. Skill is obviously important, but I would be more worried about communication, and their ability to determine the scope of a project.

        If the student had a portfolio of good client work and references, I would consider hiring them. I suppose it really just comes down to each individuals experiences though.

        P.S – Hey Neil, gimme KISSmetrics 😉
        I’ll be looking forward to the public release.

    • For mediocre jobs, finding a college student to do your coding is a great idea, especially since you’re able to meet locally. Just be careful if you have bigger and complex needs.

      • marcus@how to make money online :

        You are right Neil. Simple jobs can be done by college students but more elaborate designs should be performed by a professional.

        • That would be ideally where you want to be with it… you can’t throw your expectations so high with college students.

      • I think that you can find a college student who is able to a complex job too, but you have to try harder for that and a little bit of luck is needed to and that way you can complete your job with less expenses.

  2. Great tips and insight on contractor market! As with almost anything in life, plenty of preparation can prevent costly mistakes down the road.

    *the* contractor market 🙂

    • This is very true… there are just too many people out there preying for your business, you better be VERY careful.

  3. Brian P,

    Finding a good designer on craigslist requires a lot of filtering. I just recently tried it and out of hundreds of resumes and designs I received I found a few that are decent at best. I also recommend searching in large cities not just your own city. Regardless it is still a process.

  4. Neil, Great post and very timely as I am hiring a designer and developers now. One tip, a great resource for finding developers is–a community site where developers network to share information and coding tips. Do a query for the type of site or language your project is in, then look for the developers with the highest reputation scores and best responses to questions. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the site Mark… I’m glad you came to the right place at the right time 😉 Hopefully this article helps filter your search.

      • Beside the StacKOverflow you can also check out Github, Bitbucket, CodeProject, etc. These sites will definitely help you find people who are capable of working with the tech stack you have in mind or that you are working on. “Blindly” doing few hundred Google queries is quite time consuming and I believe inefficient in the end.
        Also another tip that you can use is that when you have a list of potential web developers you can send them some programming tests. Note that I do not have a great web development knowledge, but I do know some basics so I send them some coding test from this site. I found this to be a fast filtering mechanism.

  5. Andrew @ :

    I agree that it’s really important to know what you need and how you want it done before going out and finding someone to do it for you. It is good to be clear on things.

    • Be as specific and clear as possible, else you’ll end up spending much more money than you originally wanted to.

  6. Hey Neil, do you have similar tips/advice for hiring an SEO firm or any recommendations? Would love to hear your thoughts…

    • Rich Angstadt :

      Hi Jay,
      When searching for an SEO agency, spend some time checking out their referrals. Look at work they did for other websites/companies and talk to their clients to see if they’re happy. Also, because a lot of SEO is done behind the scenes, it’s crucial to ask the SEO agency to discuss their link building process. What methods do they employ? Review, Google’s TOS and ensure their methods don’t violate it. If the agency is unwilling to discuss their methodology with you then you probably don’t want to get involved with them. Here’s some additional information on selecting a SEO vendor –

    • I can do one better… I already know a few good firms:

      I hope that helps.

      • SEOMoz are an excellent company.

        I don’t want to plug myself, but I’m a SEO and would be willing to sort you out with a quotation if you sent me a brief of your needs.

  7. Anand Srinivasan :


    Don’t you have a full-time designer/developer now? I was wondering if I should go for one should I grow big..

    • Anand Srinivasan :

      I meant in-house full time designer…

      • Just because you have an in-house designer doesn’t mean that you’re going to expand. Some companies have them but don’t even need them! In my opinion, the only companies that should have them are full-time internet-based companies that are always developing. People like Twitter and Facebook.

        Normal businesses should never need them and should instead commission an outsider to do the work. Plus you’ve got the benefit of not having to pay the insurance, tax etc for them because as freelancers or agencies – they’re doing it for you!

        • Well it depends, sometimes companies prefer the certain way people do things… than sending it to someone else

        • Anand Srinivasan :


          Your point is interesting. But I think by having an in-house designer, you can have much more effective communication which you cannot have in case it is just email/phone communication. But of course, the person should be a multitasker, otherwise you are going to waste his talent away for most times..

          • Well… a multitasker can mean different things… but you can’t expect the designer to be as equally talented in other areas… That’s why you should hire specific people for certain things.

      • Yep, the guys are full time.

        One of them just does the design part and I have another guy who just codes up the designs.

    • I do. I think I have had in house designers for around 2 or 3 years now.

  8. Hey, Do you have any experience hiring developers/designers on Elance, RentACoder or Guru? You didn’t acknowledge that these places exist and was wondering if it was because of a bad experience.

    • Regarding Elance etc. There are some very good designers on these sites but there are also some very bad ones.

      It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but everyone on that site just cares about budget. It’s more likely that you’ll go for the cheapest person as opposed to the best person for the job.

      I’m not being offensive towards others, but a lot of the time these companies who offer the cheapest work are the people overseas in India etc, who do a poor, cheap, quick job for the cash – something that is becoming increasingly popular in the design industry.

      I don’t mean that to be offensive at all, I’m literally just saying it how it is, ask any other designer and they’ll tell you the same.

      • Some may be good for little stuff if you’re real oblivious about coding, but for bigger project, I don’t recommend it.

    • It’s difficult to say because those services are just a lot of trial and error. Sometimes you may end up being lucky with someone, but more often than not, you’ll get a bunch of crap. Be careful using those services… cheap isn’t always good.

    • Richard Garand :

      I’ve gotten business through rentacoder (long ago) and (to this day). From what I’ve seen I believe is better when you’re looking to have something done right or find an expert, while rentacoder is more focused on price like elance. This can be good but you have to be sure that you specify exactly what you want to see, and you may need to try a few providers before you find someone who can get it done. Even on I’ve heard from people who had bad experiences with people who seemed like good developers.

      • All those sites who provide a massive number of people are going to have problems and challenges… it’s more of the luck of the draw…

  9. I agree with you Neil. We need to have a good designer as well as good developer to create something worthy.

  10. StocksonWallStreet :

    Thanks for the advice I agree it is tough to find good developers/designers out there that you can actually trust.

    • It is… and you’ll probably still make mistakes with the ones you hire… but at least you’ll be better equipped with how to handle the situation.

  11. This is a must read for all Web design/developers out there, it’s critical to see how the buying process is perceived from the customers side. Sadly, from my experience on the other side of the fence, the advice handed out online within the design/development industry is very inward looking and contrasts with what customers need.

    I was surprised to read such strong views against people operating as a jack of all trades. Mainly because this is my industry and that’s a big USP for myself. I handle all elements of marketing for a large B2B manufacturer, everything from strategic consultation down to laying out print artwork and working with Web code. They’ve gotten very good results too and benefit from one point of contact for all their activities.

    I am impressed with the advised strategy of seeking out good suppliers, this is imo far smarter than using the directory options. I’d like to add to this by suggesting if you have found an agency do a bit more digging on Google and you may find they use freelancers you can contact directly.

    • Chris, I hope you don’t take it offensively because it’s not intended to EVERYONE, it’s for most people. There are always exceptions to the rule.

      • Neil, no offence taken at all.

        I am just concerned about people taking that piece of advice very strictly. I feel it’s important that businesses look objectively at what they require to meet their needs. Going a la carte with design/developers certainly can have it’s advantages in terms of specialisation, but businesses need to consider the effort needed on their part to get suppliers all working together. Particularly if they increase activities into many related areas.

        Another thing worth bearing in mind is that some design/developers will outsource specialised tasks on the clients behalf. So while they may say they are happy to take on certain tasks they may not intend to work on those tasks themselves.

        • Right, there can be advantageous with doing that, especially when it comes to little stuff here and there. A great example would be a small project you can simply outsource in case your in house is working on something different.

      • qrUxLZ sffhedoxeajz

  12. Nathan J. Brauer :

    Neil (and everyone else):

    If you want to find a great web developer, look at open source project leaders and admins! Also check the news for small tech sites that have recently been sold (or closed down, but only if they had a good product) and search LinkedIn and Google for people who worked there.

    And when you get your list of people, do a Google search for their name and another for their identity (company name); check the first 20 or so links for positive/negative information. In your correspondence with potential candidates, verify that they live where they say they live (country wise). This is easy to do: In an email, send them a unique shortened link to something regarding your project (use or – make sure you don’t give this link to *anyone* else). When they reply to your email, check the location statistics for the link and you should see one click from X country. This is a great, simple way to verify that people live where they say they live (of course, it’s not foolproof though).

    Lastly, after you’ve gone through a ton of developers that you’re not happy with, contact me. I’ll make everything better 😉

    • lol, great self promotion… Yes, it’s always a good idea to search for past clients and recent projects… those will give you a real good sense of their style.

      • Nathan J. Brauer :

        haha thanks 🙂
        I got 7 clicks and 2 or 3 followers on Twitter from it 😛

        It’s much more difficult to hire for a developer than a designer. It’s like hiring an author who’s books are restricted only to a few people, or for non-developers, it’s like hiring an author who speaks a completely foreign language.

        • Wow, not a bad return on your investment 😉 Developers are a lot more tougher than designers, but it also depends on the type of project you’re looking for too. Coding is pretty much it’s own language.

          • Nathan J. Brauer :

            Ya, and what makes it tougher is that every language requires different knowledge thus you can’t hire just any developer but one that knows the languages your infrastructure speaks.

  13. You can also give out a test before you hire someone, a majority of designers who come from an agency background have worked on creative projects on a shared level, so their portfolio may not necessarily depict what they are capable of

    • That’s a great idea Peter… some may do this, but many of the big designers may just refer you to their past clients… which is perfectly fine too. Just contact them.

  14. Chris Peterson :

    Excellent Tips, I’ve bookmarked this.
    I’ve done all my design on my own so far, but I will eventually get a pro to give it a new face. I’ve never hired someone for this and didn’t really know where to start.

    • Well that’s fantastic Chris, keep your costs to a minimum while you can… and when you’re able to, make the right moves.

  15. I am build a website called with my Malaysia local designer I waste my money around $ 2000 because he is don’t know help me to do my desired website, it is all talking about money, this one how much, that one how much. All I want is to build a user-friendly website looks simple and cleanliness, he install the template is not good and not my desired one.Can you introduce some website designer for me and make my website with my wish ?

  16. Varun Nagappa :

    Fair points. But I would be like to crowdsource my designs/developers. 99designs and CrowdSpring are good sites to source ideas for your design. Similarly oDesk is able to provide you with access to developers who are rated based on delivery record.

    I don’t mean to sound like any expert in the field as I have no experience with either site but my 2c is that when hiring we should “seek the wisdom of the crowd”

    • Take your time before you hire someone for a big project… talk to past clients to find out the truth on what type of people they are to deal with. Especially if you’re going to deal with them for a while, you don’t a lot of head butting. You need to be very careful with sites that outsource the labor because they’re are just too many out there that don’t know what they’re doing.

  17. Thanks Neil. A really useful article. I’ve been burnt previously by a web designer, and am about to embark on a new project and have saved this post away to follow step by step. Cheers

    • Well Katie, you’re not the only one at least. The positive thing to take out of this is that you’ll be full equipped to handle all your future ventures.

  18. Hey Neil,

    Great post! (as usual) I find too often people tend to get caught up in the design of their website, and they forget the reason they wanted the site in the first place.

    The majority of people we work with want a website that is going to make them more money than it cost to build and maintain.

    However, most of the time people start talking about how they want the site to look and what bells and whistles they want. They see a friend or competitor with a “cool” feature and think they have to have it.

    If you intend for your website to make money, the most important thing you need to ask your web designer about sites they’ve built that are actually making money.

    The vast majority of sites built, never make enough money to cover their hosting fees (or recoup the money they spent having it built).

    I don’t believe the look of the site is the most important aspect, the most important aspect is conversion. That doesn’t mean selling products or services, it could be as simple as generating qualified leads.

    Another important question to ask your potential designer is if they offer any type of guarantees. Are they willing to guarantee a certain amount of (qualified) traffic? Are they willing to guarantee your site will make you money?

    Conversion first….making it look “good” second.

    So I say, DARE TO BE UGLY!

    • If you’re focus is to make money or gain traffic, you still need to put your content in consideration. No matter how sexy your site looks, if all you have is a bunch of crap… that’s all you’ll get. Thanks for the input.

  19. Neil,

    I always love your post and read through the comment section but this one I am especially found of.

    As a college student myself and budding entrepreneur I have found that aside from my design skills my age is my biggest selling point. When I walk into a conference room alot of people are taking back by my age. Instead of downplaying that I am 20, I embrace it. I assure everyone in the room that my professionalism is years beyond my actual age, and I dont feel that is far fetched. I brand myself as the youngest kid in the room, and the brightest. Dont ever underestimate a person skill or intelligence because of their age or the fact their in college. Look at what they have done, who they have worked with, and read up on design so when you look at their portfolio, you can make informed, educated decisions.

    I think its important to realize the effects of visual design. Most people will never notice the hard work and hours it takes to develop a site, they are only interested in the front end. Ultimately, development takes a major roll in creating a successful website (whatever your definition of successful is.) but I think an underlying point here is don’t try and cut cost on your website. I have always felt dont ever pay someones wages, pay what it is worth.

    • I agree with you how most designers aren’t really given the credit they deserve for all the time and energy they put forth in their projects. That’s why it’s necessary for someone to find a designer who’s more on quality… you probably have no clue what they’re doing in the back end… and unfortunately that can screw you up later.

  20. Good post 😉

    I have hired good developers using


    We just recently “losed” $2000 with a “bad” guy, but we have had good experience with others.

    Neil, why you do not talk about thoses known platform? Did you have bad experiences with?

    Roro CEO

    • Well that’s the challenge with those services… you may save money here and there, but you may also loose money. Why not go for someone who’s known for their good quality and take it from there.

      • oDesk is where its at. Use their platform to interview and find out how to pick out the good developers. To Google a business name or website design to find a developer, for the common man, is NOT where its at.

        1. know how to properly post a job and
        2. know how to sort through all the applicants and find the right people.

        If you stress for the applicants to include
        1. a unique skill or experience that makes them qualified to do a good job on your project.
        2. ask them to give an outline of specifically what technology they will use and the techniques they will use to get your project done.

        With these pieces of information you can usually tell which people are qualified by the quality of their answers. You don’t have to be a super technical person yourself to pick out which people have the best sounding answer, and 90% of the time you will pick a quality applicant.

        • Thanks for the insight… they are great but just like any outsourcing company, you need to know that you’ll need to go through a lot of dirt before you’ll hit the gold.

          • I agree, about the dirt thing…

            it is not because, you’ve had a project working well, that the second, with the same developer, will work well as the first.

            Just want to add a little experience:

            “if some things goes wrong along the way, and your intuition tells you to quit the dev guy, don’t expect this to go better, because it will not”

            Save money, tell yourself that was a great experience and asset for the future, and move to the future…

            • Right, the past is the past.. don’t worry yourself about stuff that’s just not working out. Keep going forward on move on to the next one.

  21. Great article, Neil.

    Question: how do you work to Retain good talent if you’re paying on a per project basis?

    • Work out deals with them in regards to more projects you have planned…

    • “And if you get lucky, like my business partner and I, and you find some really good talent, then you should do whatever you can to keep them happy and never let them go.”

      Do exactly what Neil said here. Unfortunately many people don’t realize how important is to keep a good talent and those people loose a lot by not realizing this. When you find someone who is really good at what is he doing than do whatever it takes to keep that person around because it will bring you more benefits than the money you pay.

  22. Good stuff, Ive had a TERRIBLE experience with a local “professional” programer here in CT. It really sucks losing money when someone can’t do what they promised.

    live and learn i guess. I found him btw via craiglist, he had a professional website and company, but he was so incompitent. All i wanted him to do was to customize a template I already had for my personal site.

    I feel like he tried to take advantage of me, assumed i was just another dumb person who knew nothing about computers, internet, and web sites. His loss as i will never do business with him again ( and i do a lot of business online) or recomend him to anyone.

    though i dont want to come of as bashing craiglist, ive had good and bad experiences, it just takes practice to know who has talent and who is selling snakes oil.

    also, for serious projects, ALWAYS outsource to anyone reading this. A good blog design costs 1500-4000$. Look at sites you personally like and find out who did them.

    • Exactly… it’s good at least that those challenges are behind you… Usually the great sites are tagged with the designers which make it simple to find them online.

  23. Great points Neil. Unfortunately the first person or the first few people you try might not work out unless you get lucky. I’ve heard many stories from clients who hired someone who looked good and even had good reviews, only to find that they had trouble completing the task on time or couldn’t quite get it right. Always look for someone who communicates well and helps you understand things. Some programmers can get caught up in doing something cool and might forget that you have a deadline, or get bored when it’s mostly working and they need to fix little details. It’s difficult to really know what someone will be like but if their communication is always focused on your needs and you understand everything you say, chances are their work will reflect that too.

    As a developer I believe that you should ask for a fixed price for most projects (you can break them into smaller pieces to lessen the risk). This ensures not only that you know what your costs are, but that you put in the time to think about exactly what you want. There’s nothing wrong with having new ideas as you go but starting off by deciding where you want to end up will help you get there sooner, and at a lower cost. There are countless ways that programming work can take more time than anticipated, so having an upfront commitment lessens your risk.

    One thing to watch out for is that it can be difficult to provide a good fixed price; a common problem with all programmers is underestimating the difficulty of something. This means that an inexperienced programmer might give you a price far lower than they should, but when they’ve already spent twice the time they estimated and there are a lot more things to fix their motivation might start to slip a bit.

    One other thing to add is that when you want to get someone doing ongoing work and keep them interested in you, you need to understand the challenges they face. Work in this industry can be very unpredictable. Although I don’t mind working for people who just need something small done now and then, a good part of my schedule is built around projects that were planned well in advance, and I prioritize things for clients who pay quickly. No matter what type of help you want to hire they always like to know that in 1-3 months they’ll have something good to work on and they won’t have any trouble getting paid for it; while a lot of people might be asking for their help you can make sure they think of you first if their past experiences with you are good.

    • Sometimes people get lucky and find the right person in the beginning, but if you’re like most people… you have to dig through the dirt before you find the gold.

  24. I’m curious to know what the thoughts are on sites like crowdspring & 99 designs?

  25. in india.. web designers and web developers work in tandem.. so what do we do..

  26. Wesley Scripps :

    I currently run design firm in Colorado and I have a couple of steps that I take before I even start designing. I suggest these steps to any one looking for a website. I think they run along the same lines as what Neil is talking about. If not please tell me, I would like to know if I am doing anything wrong.

    1st Meeting
    1. Who is this website for and what do you want your website to do.
    2. Discuss business model and understand there business and what it means for them personally and from a business perspective.
    3. I suggest a visit to CSS mania and figure out what they like and don’t like.

    2nd Meeting
    4. We sit down and put an RFP together to make sure all has been accounted for, design, features, and any other requests they may have.
    5. I put a quote together for how much I think it will cost me to develop the project for them.

    3rd Meeting
    6. Decide if they have any more questions or comments.
    7. Let them decide if they want to proceed with the project.
    8. Go over contract and sign in person

    9. I find my subs for the project and go over RFP and what part that person is going to handle.

    This is my usual for any website weather its a thousand dollar website or a ten thousand dollar website.

    I think the RFP is the most important part because it helps plan and organize the project. This process usually helps a client really clear up what they want and what they don’t want out of the website and I can give them a more accurate pricing. This also helps me understand how the website is going to fit into there business model and this also helps me figure out any problems they may have if a feature does not quite fit into how the business is going to run.

    Hope this helps people understand how a project is run from a design firms point of view.



    • This is great Wesley, thanks for giving us all this input. This is a great step by step of how it really is and what to take from it.

  27. I use drupal for my site and that saves me a lot of trouble. With drupal. if you are really looking for an extra ordinary website, all you need to do is contact a designer to customize the theme for you. Once the theme is done you have every control over the site. Its cheap and easy. Try it.

  28. Hi Neil

    Good post though. I was about to write a related post in my company blog, and while I was looking at this post I realised that which browser you use. and I think that you donot use firefox 😉

    Anyway, The width of image used in this post is bit larger in FireFox, and overlap the right sidebar.

    Best Wishes

  29. For me finding a designer was kind of like mining for gold. I had to sort through quite a bit until I found the proverbial gold nugget. Depending on your design needs, don’t count on getting it right the first time. Expect to do some “mining” along the way.

    • It’s not just you Brad, finding someone else to do this type of work is very difficult… especially a person who has the same vision as you. There will be a lot of failure in the process so just move forward as fast as you can.

  30. You are right Neil, we should never take people for granted. There are lots of good designers and developers in the market.

    • Yes there are many out there who are amazing and probably reasonably priced… they may even be untouched. Spend time interviewing people before you hire them.

  31. Jay Jalodomisa :

    Hey Neil,

    Would you recommend using those cheap freelance sites – guru, elance, freelancers, etc

    A lot of those people are CHEAP but they aren’t of QUALITY.

    I’ve had experience both good and bad, but finding a local guy you can see, hear, and talk to is better, for me at least.

    Jay Jalodomisa

    • It depends on your project Jay… if what you have is nothing too extravagant, then don’t bother paying someone who’s too much for your budget.

  32. revizyon ile organize matbaacılık brnckvvtmllttrhaberi :

    The most important part here guys is that you’re very specific with exactly what you’re looking for. If you aren’t, you’ll end up spending more than you originally wanted to.

  33. Sağlık haberleri :

    Great post! (as usual) I find too often people tend to get caught up in the design of their website, and they forget the reason they wanted the site in the first place.

  34. What do you think about using sites like 99design or I am considering using them to design my e-commerce platform.

  35. Hey, Do you have any experience hiring developers/designers on Elance, RentACoder or Guru? You didn’t acknowledge that these places exist and was wondering if it was because of a bad experience.

    • Some of them are great, but most of the time they suck… you really need to be lucky to find the good ones who do it at an affordable price.

  36. Excellent Tips, I’ve bookmarked this.
    I’ve done all my design on my own so far, but I will eventually get a pro to give it a new face. I’ve never hired someone for this and didn’t really know where to start.

    • Smart move… you’ll save tons of cash that way. When you need to get a pro, start asking other people who they recommend.

  37. It’s obvious, the work or a designer and developer is different. You cant expect them to do design and develop.

  38. As a budding interactive marketing consultant to small/med business, so far my experience has been you can have the greatest ideas or even spot low hanging fruit to improve marketing (we’re talking A-B testing, or fixing canocalization) but it seems to always comes down to designer/development issues putting the brakes on implementation. Either they are married to using a retarded CMS, or the developer the business has been using is completely incompetent and tries to stop everything you want to do. “I can’t install google analytics on this page or it will break the site”- I can’t make this up.

    I originally pictured my career as coming up with strategy for a company and sending work orders to the developers without having to babysit a whole lot, but after spending time in the trenches, I feel that I need to become at least able to get under the hood in terms of design and development or manage my own team, because the in-house developer/designers will inevitably find a way to stop implementation. I really don’t want to learn code, but after fighting so many battles with them to fix the most basic stuff, I think I need to be able to grab the bull by the horns or fix things myself if it comes down to it or at least properly manage/be on the same page with ones I hire myself.

    • Even though you don’t want to, it maybe a smart move right now to establish a better position when looking for or being sought after for projects.

  39. free forex demo account :

    If you are not a top earning blogger the best way is to create your own designs. But oneday, if i getrich i may think about hiring a designer using your tips. thank you neil.

  40. i have many friends that are designers and they tham selfs confess that considering many people just dont know anything about design ist very easy to give them trash and sell it as gold , must be careful

  41. sell textbooks :

    These are really great tips. it happens all to often, you hire a guy to design your website and 3 months later nothing. I hate the process but you have it down.

  42. I hate of hiring someone for limited period because its doesn’t make much sense so i own a guy as my company employee

  43. I can say one thing: the web designers from India are not worth even $1. I have dealed many times, the quality of their job is extremely low. Since freelance companies are inhabited only with indian designers, I do not recommend to deal with them, example: scriptlance

  44. Great aricle and good advice on how to hire a designer . ask LOTS of questions, get references, ask HOW LONG they have been in busines… Look at their previous work . Thanks for the article – from an experienced web developer and marketing company!

  45. I think it is also important to see what the designer’s policy is about copywrite and any other legal issues. Nowadays, many people want to get paid and may abuse their designing skills to gain a stake in your business.

  46. hire developer :

    The Indian IT industry is overloaded of good software developers. As such, it has become natural that many developers remain underpaid.

    Good work!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Austin Web design :

    Hey Neil,

    I will always look for real reviews by people before hiring a web designer or web developer. 🙂

    Thank you

  48. The best advice I’ve heard about finding good designers is picking ones who you like their work from the very beginning. If you like their work and feel like you can use it without having them alter their style, then there’s a good chance that it will work out well. However, if you feel like they’ll work but you just need them to modify their style slightly, then your starting out with the wrong person. It’s best to find someone who’s style and work you love from the very beginning.

  49. Great tips and insight on contractor market! As with almost anything in life, plenty of preparation can prevent costly mistakes down the road.

  50. Hi Neil,

    You mentioned the right way to hire a web designer, I think requesting mock up’s from designer will be handy!

    • Anoop, great suggestion. You can always see what they are willing to offer before you even consider paying them. That’s a perk of working with designers.

  51. Well I’ve got a burning questions…

    seeing that we are on site designs, care to share where you got your site design from Neil?

    really curious, cause i live it

  52. web designer employment :

    I just like the valuable info you provide on your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at again here frequently.
    I’m slightly certain I’ll learn many new stuff proper
    here! Best of luck for the next!

  53. Archana Sharma :

    Hello Neil,

    I run a startup website design and development firm in India called Digitize Software Pvt. Ltd. . We have a very dedicated team with lot of experience and expertise in .web design, .NET and PHP technologies and very hardworking. We have never said “NO” to our clients and have worked continuous 20 hours when needed. We are working on some very large eCommerce websites that run in UK, USA, AUS, NZ, CA, FR, DE and RU for a fixed client in UK and that’s where our salaries are generating from. Now I want to grow and get some more clients and for that I chose to signup for the freelancing website but I saw that there is no place there for newbies as we don’t have any client there and also no feedback. We know that we are the best with our knowledge and attitude for work but we are in kind of confusion that where to start and what should we do to get more clients.

    Thanks & regards

  54. Thomas Charlie :

    Web Designer and Developer is decided or search for website development by research beacause more elaborate designs should be performed by a professional. If you can’t provide good content, what will a nice design do other than show appreciation for your work.
    You mentioned the right way to hire a web designer.
    Thanks & regard

  55. Austin Davies :

    99designs is best source of designers currently. So it’s not something you hire a guy and pray if the work is fine. Instead many developers fight for your order by giving you sketches or even ready design. That’s really cool. It might be more expensive than to hire a web designer on Upwork, it it’s more reliable because many designers involved.

    Thank you for sharing, I will use it to submit my site.

    Also if you hire web developer you can use coding skill test like to test ability on work on you. But take a look carefully to him/her prortfolio.
    Best approach to code a design nowadays is to take some popular CSS framework (e.g. Bootstrap) and code on it’s basis. Because if you change web-developer some day (and probably you’ll do) it will be easier for him to maintain the exist code rather than if first developer wrote everything from scratch.

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