I know this task can be time consuming but have no fear I came up with a list of tips on what to look for when you are interviewing different firms or contractors.
The website and graphic would is a over saturated market full of fabulous competent professionals as well as unqualified “experts”. My biggest piece of advice is to find a company you trust. Do a gut check and make sure you trust them with your website and marketing needs. If they aren’t doing everything they can to make you feel heard and set expectations from the beginning, or if they are promising the world to you (especially with SEO) – run for the hills!
First, Set Your Goals –
Are you looking for a contract graphic designer or web programmer who will quickly do simple updates? Are you looking for an umbrella marketing company who will take over your graphics, website, and marketing? Figure out what your present and future needs are, and this makes the searching a bit smoother.
Also figure out your budget, website/design firms come in all shapes and sizes. Drip Drop’s hourly rate is on the mid-lower end when you compare it to other firms of our size and quality. An agency or firm will be more expensive, then a freelancer or contractor will be mid-range, and finally a site like Upwork will be the least expensive (but the most time consuming).
Side Note – Maybe you don’t know your marketing/website goals? Find a company who is willing to sit with you and explain what is possible. They may offer a free consultation so take advantage of this!
Check Their Track Record –
This is vital to finding the right fit for you company. To me, experience speaks volumes over a sales person’s pitch.
Over the years, I have seen website/graphic design companies fall under two categories:
- One-size-fits-all and quick fixes.
- Custom to your company’s needs and goals.
One-size-fits-all is usually your templated sites and their portfolio looks the same. This is a more economical approach, but your site and graphics may look similar to their next client’s, and just be a plug-and-go. Whereas a custom designer (like Drip Drop Creative) will listen to your marketing and company goals and create a custom solution to meet those needs.
Take a look at their portfolio and ask them for an updated portfolio since so their most up-to-date portfolio may not be on the website. If you see work that is similar in quality to what we have produced for you, then hopefully they should be able to create similar work.
Ask for References and Ask a lot of Questions –
You can either ask for references (existing and/or on-going clients). Or do what I do and contact a random company on their portfolio so I get an unbiased opinion. Usually people are more than happy to email or have a quick chat. Ask about their experience working with the firm/freelancer. I created a mixture of questions you can ask the references or even when you are interviewing prospects:
- Most important when asking a reference – Would you recommend working with this company?
- What was their turn around time?
- Did they deliver when promised?
- Did they keep projects within the agreed budget? What happened if it went over?
- How were they with explaining technical issues – over your head or relatable jargon?
- Did they keep the lines of communication open?
- Is there a lot of turnaround in the company? In my opinion, you don’t want to work with a website firm that works with a new designer/programmer every month.
- How do they communicate – phone calls, emails, or the dreaded texts? Let the company know what communication method you are most comfortable with.
- Ask if they have a contract, those are made to protect both parties in most cases. If a company or freelancer doesn’t not offer a contract – I would consider this a red flag.
- Ask them where they think the future of websites and branding is going? This is a fun question I like to ask since it tells me if the person is up to date with the on-going trends.
If you are wanting more ideas on questions to ask, I recommend googling “Questions to ask when hiring a web or graphic designer” There are so many blogs out there with lists of questions you can write down for the interview.
In Conclusion –
Your website and your brand are just as important (if not more!) than your best sales person since statistically more people look at your website or social media profiles before they even contact you. I have preached this over the years but websites are no longer a “set it and forget it” mentality. They need a little love to stay up to date with software, and a lot of love if you want sales results to come from it. It’s that simple but it’s also just the beginning.
I wish I had a one-size-fit-all firm to recommend to you, but the decision is ultimately up to you and finding the firm or freelancer that works best with your team and goals. Remember, every website company and designer has a different opinion. The way to think about it is this – if you have you home built by a customer home builder, and several years later have a random plumber come in to fix a leak. They are going to have a different approach to the solution. The same thing with marketing experts – everyone has their own approach. I hope this article was helpful in making this transition smoother.