I recently decided it was time to invest in a professionally-designed blogsite. So I hired someone I thought was a reputable designer. But I ended up with a half-finished, unusable site and recouped only half of my original investment.
The second time through the process, I’ve done things differently. Here are some tips that may save you both heartache and money.
1) Count the cost.
At the least, moving from a free site (such as Blogger or WordPress.com) requires the purchase of hosting from a host server and a domain name. (I would delay buying these items until a designer tells you which host server they prefer.)
The cost of a designer’s services is actually optional. I have a quote from Linda Leigh Hargrove, writer and former web designer: “In my opinion, anyone can use the WordPress.org version template and set up your site yourself with no HTML knowledge. It helps to be good at following step-by-step directions (click this and then click that) and be very patient. If you can set up your email through MS outlook or install cell phone apps, then you can install WordPress plugins. If you have some special layout, your own logo, or other branding (like artwork in the header or specific colors) then you’d need to get really handy with coding or hire a designer.”
Not being handy, I opted for a designer.
2) Compile a wishlist.
So I began researching other blogsites. I only thought I knew what a great website was until I began exploring the tons of them out there! You can discover what’s fresh, what’s hip, what matches your vision, and what doesn’t. This opened my mind to so many new possibilities!
Keep a running list of sites (and their respective designers) that appeal to you, specifically focusing on the what and why.
3) Compare designers.
In addition, below are a couple of web lists, chock-full of designers, for you to peruse. Pay attention to each designer’s specialties, general aesthetic appeal, and testimonials of former clients.
4) Construct safeguards.
As in any business, know that there are unscrupulous operators out there. In hindsight, I should have insisted on more safeguards up front to protect myself.
For easy reference, keep all correspondence in one handy email folder. This makes it easy to keep up with details of the designer’s work and is handy for any disagreements that may crop up. Keep your PayPal email receipts here. Also keep emails of all usernames and passwords that are sent to you (from the host server, the blogsite-in-progress where your designer may invite you to visit, etc.)
Find a designer who understands the absolute importance of prompt business communication. VERY IMPORTANT!
Also when choosing a designer, find one who is not overcommitted on other projects and will deliver a speedy but totally satisfactory product.
The delivery deadline to which you agree is especially important in light of how you pay for services. For example, if you pay through PayPal (as I did), you have the right to contest all charges made within a 45-day interval. (For details, see PayPal’s Dispute Resolution Process Page.) Most credit cards provide consumer protection services and will refund for a product when it is not delivered on time or is unsatisfactory. (Check your credit card agreement documents for details.)
5) Contract for services.
OR, Get everything in writing. This is a business arrangement. Treat it as such.
Get a signed contract that spells out all specifics for both parties including:
If something ever feels fishy or unreasonable to you while still hammering out the details, trust your instincts and find yourself another designer. Believe me, you deserve to be assured and comfortable every step of the way.
What advice or feedback can you add from your own experience?
Jean Huffman (@huffman_jean) is a pastor’s wife from Durham, NC, who writes secular mystery fiction. She has a soon-to-be published short story included in FishNets: The Guppy Anthology and is presently editing her novel with the same main characters. She also writes Christian women’s fiction, blogging under the pen name of Sislyn Stewart at http://sislynstewart.com.[ Next Post → ] [ ← Previous Post ]