Whered my designer go?

Oh man, is this a common gripe in the industry. It’s as if work isnt incentive enough to keep a web designer around. Be it scheduling issues, a bad client/designer fit or just plain life, I hear from so many clients that their designers are notorious for pulling a disappearing act.

You may be no stranger to designers dropping off the face of the earth, leaving you with a half finished website. And of course, I can most surely help you complete that unfinished web design job. But if you arent sure about hiring me, or dont need my services, here are some things you can do to protect yourself, your cold hard cash and find the right designer to keep by your side… at least until the job is done.

Communication
When choosing a designer, are they adequately responsive?
Do they reply in an appropriate amount of time? Do they answer questions to your satisfaction? Do you communicate well with this person? Ultimately, do they feel like the ‘right fit’?

You can tell right away when someone doesn’t understand. Their replies are confusing and leave you with more questions. Comprehension is key at this point because in most cases, communication will be done by email and over the internet. Excessive phone and in-person meetings wastes time and money.

You should have a good feeling at the start of first communications. No amount of testimonials, recommendations or portfolio examples can tell you if you’ll have good rapport and a decent working relationship with this designer. Feel them out.

Agreement
A written contract isnt always one hundred percent necessary, but it could be a good sign. It might mean that the designer is business minded and operates at a professional level. It may also mean that they’re not very flexible. Not having a contract does not mean the designer is unprofessional (im a virtual handshake kinda gal and have never written a contract in my whole career). Use your best judgement from how you’ve communicated so far, and always check the fine print before signing written agreements. If you sense any weirdness about the way the designer operates, keep looking.

Fulfillment
The contract, written or verbal may require cash in advance… some kind of retainer or deposit to get the job started. Some designers may have had previous issues getting paid and might require SOMETHING to get started, for good faith. Small, common web design jobs shouldnt require large deposits.

Expect to make a generous deposit on large jobs that require the designer to purchase art, software or other resources.

Unless its a small job, dont pay the full amount upfront. It isnt necessary and leaves the designer little incentive to complete the job or do high quality work. Half upfront is common.

Maintenance
A web designers job usually wont extend into the maintenance of a website and doesn’t include work beyond the contract agreement. Have a game plan for when the site is complete. If you feel compelled to maintain your own website, the best website platform in existence is WordPress. There’s a slight learning curve, but the software is relatively simple to use and keep updated.

If your business is beyond do it yourself maintenance, having someone else update the site might free up your time to complete your most important business tasks. If you only need a few hours of maintenance a month, use the same process defined above to find your ‘web master’, making sure they equally understand the website platform you’ve chosen.