3 Tips for Picking The Right Web Designer

michael mannucci

Michael Mannucci

January 23rd, 2023

Business owner facing a lot of web design options

Recently, I was speaking with a Toronto business owner who was in the process of having his website redesigned and optimized for search engines. He shared with me that in the past, he made a decision without knowing much about the web design and SEO industry, and regretted it later. He was feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of options available in Toronto. And with the convenience of the internet, it's not just local options that are available. Agencies and freelancers from all over the world are easily accessible, making the decision even more difficult. With so many web design agencies and freelancers to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is the best fit for your business.

As someone in the industry, I realized that I have a certain level of expertise and understanding of what to look for when choosing a web designer, but most business owners don't. That's why I've decided to write this blog post, to give some some tips to help business owners eliminate the bad web designers and identify the good ones.

Here is 3 tips for picking the right web designer.

3. Emphasis on Design

Good design is important, it's the first impression that a website gives to the visitors. It's important for a website to be easy to use, and more importantly, responsive. With the increasing usage of mobile devices, it's crucial for a website to be optimized for different screen sizes, as statistics have shown that a majority of internet users access the web through their mobile devices. So be sure to check any designers portfolio items on multiple devices before comitting.

But design is cheap. Getting someone to design a nice website is not difficult or expensive. If a designer or agency focuses solely on "beautiful design", "modern feel", or any other aethetically related buzz words, it's important to keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily translate to a website that will achieve your business goals. My advice would be to say “thank you for your time”, and move on. A website is a business tool, and its purpose is to solve problems and help achieve goals. For example, if your problem is getting the wrong kinds of leads, and your goal is to increase conversions, a pretty design alone won't be able to pull that off.

A website is a business tool. If you went down to the hardware store and looked at the tools, each of them is going to have a nice design and packaging. And that’s important! But imagine an nicly designed saw that can’t cut. That would be pointless. That’s just like a nice looking website that can’t convert into sales and generate leads.

A good designer/developer is going to ask you the right questions. They're going to try and get into your world, understand the problems and challenges that your business is facing, and work towards offering solutions that will help you achieve your goals. A designer or agency that has a deep understanding of how to create a website that aligns with your business objectives, is more valuable than one that has a pretty portfolio but doesn't understand your business needs. A web designer who has less than a year of experience but understands this, is better than an agency that's been in business for 20 years but does not.

2. Lack of Performance

Another key factor to consider when eliminating bad options for your web designer or agency is to check their own website's performance, as well as their client’s websites. A website's performance is an indicator of the designer or agency's understanding and expertise in more than just design. It shows that they have the ability to create high-performing websites that not only look great but also function well.

Luckily there’s an easy way to check a site’s performance: Google’s free PageSpeed tool. A website's PageSpeed is a measure of how quickly the site loads. A slow loading site can be detrimental to both the user experience and SEO ranking. Visitors are less likely to stick around on a slow-loading site, and search engines like Google will rank slower sites lower in search results. A good web designer or developer has no reason to have a poorly performing website.

As a web designer and developer myself, I understand the importance of website performance. My own site has an average PageSpeed of 96%, and I work to ensure that all my client sites get at least over 90%. Achieving this can be difficult, as it requires an understanding of the problem, creative ways to solve them, and the ability to impliment those solutions. For example, I explain how lazy-loading Google Analytics can solve a lot of website performance issues here.

A poorly performing website is like a sleek and shiny sports car with a beautiful exterior, but under the hood lies a faulty engine. It may look impressive at first glance, but when put to the test, it fails to deliver on its intended purpose. Just like a sports car with a bad engine, a website that is not optimized for performance can lead to a frustrating user experience, slow load times, and poor search engine rankings.

A good web designer or developer should be able to provide you with a website that loads quickly and efficiently. This is web design 101 stuff. If the designer or agency's own website or their clients' websites have poor performance, it's best to move on and look for another option.

1. Cheap or Quick Quote

When searching for a web designer or agency, it's crucial to keep in mind that the cost of a website can fluctuate greatly. However, if a website is cheap, or the quote is quick, it's probably not going to be very good.

It's important to be aware of the numerous web design agencies and freelancers who offer extremely low prices for their services. While it may seem like a great deal at first glance, it's important to remember that you get what you pay for. These agencies and freelancers are often looking to make a quick profit by signing up as many businesses as possible, rather than providing expertise and a tailored solution for your business. They may be using pre-made templates, making minimal customizations, and not providing any real value to your business. This approach can lead to generic, subpar websites that don't stand out from the competition and lack the necessary elements to drive traffic and sales. These agencies and freelancers may also be difficult to work with after the fact, when you need assistance or changes to your website. It's important to do your research and look for a reputable designer or agency that is willing to take the time to understand your unique needs and provide a solution that is tailored to your business, even if it comes at a higher cost.

However, just because a service comes at a higher cost, doesn’t mean you’re getting higher value. Many agencies and freelancers use high prices as a way to appear more professional or experienced, but in reality, they may not be providing any more value than a cheaper option. One red flag to watch out for is if a designer or agency lists fixed prices or packages on their website or gives you a quote without first understanding your business needs. This is a sign that they are offering a one-size-fits-all solution, rather than providing a customized solution for your specific business. They may not be taking the time to understand the problems and challenges your business is facing, and therefore, cannot provide a solution tailored to your needs. Without a proper understanding of your business, it's impossible to give a fair and accurate quote, and it's likely that the end result will not align with your business objectives. In this scenario, investing more money won't guarantee a better outcome, it's always important to work with the designer or agency that has a deep understanding of your business and its needs.

Contrary to these two approaches, a reputable web designer or agency will take the time to comprehend your business, your needs, your problems, and your goals. They will provide a solution that is custom-fit to your specific needs, and this level of attention to detail and customization comes at a premium price. Good web design and development for a small business can cost anywhere between $4000 - $15,000 depending on the size and needs of the business and can even go higher. It is important to remember that a website is a business tool, and investing in a high-quality website can bring a significant return on investment. A reputable designer or agency will be able to provide a detailed quote and explain the costs associated with building a website that meets your specific business needs. They will also be transparent about the costs and will be easy to work with throughout the entire process, including after the website is launched.

In summary, when searching for a web designer or agency, it's important to keep in mind that a low price may not always be the best option. A good designer or agency will provide a tailored solution for your business, which can come at a premium price, but will ultimately lead to a high-performing website that helps achieve your business goals. Be wary of cookie cutter templates, quick quotes, or fixed prices, and instead, look for a designer or agency that is willing to take the time to understand your unique needs and provide a solution that is tailored to your business.


In conclusion, choosing the right web designer or agency for your business can be a daunting task, but by keeping these tips in mind, you can eliminate the bad options and identify the good ones. Remember to pay attention to design, but don't let it be the only factor in your decision. A website's performance is also crucial and can be easily checked with tools like Google's PageSpeed. And finally, don't be swayed by low prices, because in this industry you really do get what you paid for. By following these tips, you can make a well-informed decision that will lead to a high-performing website that helps achieve your business goals.

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