Hiring a Squarespace designer can be a nerve-racking experience. It’s a big investment and the field of designers is more saturated than ever. It’s great to have options but having that many options can be overwhelming. How can you be sure you’re choosing the right designer for your project?
Here are 9 tips that can help you determine if you’ve found the one…
Find a Squarespace designer whose aesthetic aligns with your brand.
Take a look at the designer’s portfolio. Does it have a cohesive aesthetic? Does their overall style align with your branding? There’s going to be variation between projects but you should be able to envision this designer creating something that will beautifully showcase your brand.
If you look at my portfolio, you’ll notice that my work has a distinctive style. The websites I create tend to look feminine and feature soft, organic color palettes. If you want a website with a bold, masculine, or grunge look, my portfolio makes it pretty clear that I’m not the right designer for you.
Look for someone who understands good web design principles.
Anyone can claim the title of web designer. That doesn’t mean they’re a good web designer. Here are some red flags to watch out for when you’re scrolling through a designer’s website and portfolio.
They have lines of text that span almost the entire width of the page.
This is one of the most common issues I see on the Internet. In fact, the place I notice it the most is on the websites of other Squarespace designers.
Long lines of text look bad and they wear out impatient readers, making it more likely that your copy won’t be read. For example, here’s a section of a webpage I designed.
Now, here’s that same section with the text width constraints removed.
See how much better the first version looks and how much easier it is to read?
They use the wrong fonts in the wrong places or the fonts are too small.
Another common mistake I see is websites that use a display or header font for body text. Above all, body text should be easy to read. So if you see a designer using a script font, display font, or a font in all caps for body text, run the other way.
I also see a lot of websites with text that is just too small. Remember that not all of your visitors have 20/20 vision. And even those who do probably don’t enjoy the experience of squinting to read small text, especially for long stretches of time, like on your blog.
Their website designs are too busy.
Squarespace lends itself to minimalistic design so this is less of a problem among Squarespace designers than, say, SHOWIT designers (who, I’m pretty sure, invented maximalism). That said, it bears repeating that white space is your friend. If your website is too busy, it will distract visitors from doing what you really want them to do (i.e. buy your product, sign up for a free consult, subscribe to your email list, etc.).
Choose a designer who has a solid understanding of online marketing.
In other words, find yourself a strategic web designer. You want someone who understands that a website is not just the online face of your business but a dynamic tool that can streamline your workflow and increase conversions.
A strategic web designer should understand how layout affects your bottom line and be able to explain to you the logic behind their design choices. They should have a working knowledge of third-party tools and services like MailChimp, Acuity Scheduling, Zapier, and more. Basically, they should be focused on results just as much as aesthetics.
Pick a designer who knows and uses CSS and HTML.
There’s a lot of debate within the Squarespace community about whether or not you need to know how to code be a designer. I believe the answer is yes. If you want a truly custom website, you need a designer who knows how to code.
I’ve seen websites created by Squarespace designers who don’t use CSS and I routinely notice 3 core issues:
They use images in place of code.
To create layouts and elements that would otherwise require code to implement, some designers use images instead. This causes a three problems:
Images take longer to load, so it slows down the website and negatively affects SEO.
It can make it more difficult for the website owner to edit/replace images and text in the future (i.e. they would need Photoshop to do so).
When images are used to create clickable elements, they’re static when moused over. This makes the website look flat and less interactive.
Websites don’t look good on mobile.
Squarespace is automatically mobile-responsive but that doesn’t mean your website will look good on mobile devices. It takes a fair amount of CSS to make sure everything looks just as perfect on phones and tablets as it does on desktop.
Websites look cookie cutter.
Without code, Squarespace templates have a tendency to look cookie cutter. Code adds a level of personalization you just can’t get any other way.
Ask for details about the design process.
You may not understand the ins-and-outs of web design, and that’s okay, but it’s a good idea to ask about what the design process entails. How long does it take from start date to launch date? Does the designer have a strict schedule and deadlines or are they more flexible? What are the steps along the way?
Without going into too much detail, I outline my design process right on my services page to give prospective clients a better understanding of how I work. Transparency is a quality you definitely want to look for in a web designer.
Choose a designer whose rates fit your budget (but don’t skimp).
Obviously, you need to choose a designer who won’t completely drain your bank account but be honest about what you can afford. Most good web designers, formally educated or not, have put countless hours into learning their craft and yet web design is still a woefully undervalued service.
Also, Keep in mind that the more a web designer charges, the fewer clients they have to work with in a year to pay the bills. That means more personalized service, more attention to detail, and a better result for you. You get what you pay for.
Find a designer who is available when you need them.
Do you have a deadline for your project? Some web designers are booked out months in advance, so make sure your designer of choice is available. Communicate clearly if you have a specific launch date you’re targeting.
Ask about training if you don’t have experience with Squarespace.
If you’re not Squarespace-savvy, ask if training is included in your design package. You want to make sure that you’ll be able to update your website without professional help if necessary.
Talk to the designer before you sign a contract.
A number of Squarespace designers offer free discovery calls to prospective clients. It’s a good idea to talk to someone (rather than just emailing) before you hire them for such a big project. You can get a better feel for them and it’s a great opportunity to ask them some of the questions on this list! (Psst… you can schedule a free discovery call with me here.)
Have a question, comment, or feedback? Leave a note in the comments below!