How To Get a Great Website Design

Before you begin your search

Whether you need a new website or just a facelift for your existing site, you’ll need to find just the right website developer for your project.

Here are some practical tips on how to find the best developer for you.

Where to Start

1. Create an outline of what you’re looking for in your website.

  1. There are many many ways to make an outline (wireframe) for your new website. The easiest way to create an outline is with an Excel spreadsheet.

2. Describe your ideal client/customer.

Define your ideal client as clearly as possible.

  • For B2B (business to business) include business sectors, number of employees, revenue, title of decision maker, time in business, range of products or services.
  • For B2C (business to consumer) include typical age, gender, income range, education, income.

3. Estimate an approximate budget.

DIY Website: $0 to $500

DIY WordPress websites are $0 to $500. When you’re doing your own website you can buy a premium theme and plugins, but you can easily keep the total cost under $500.

Customized Website: $1,200 to $4,500+

Customizing an existing WordPress theme ranges from $1200 to $4,500+. WordPress websites that are based on an existing theme require a frontend WordPress developer to customize the website with the “Theme Options” and the style sheet (CSS). Keep in mind that you’ll need to stay within the parameters built into the theme.

Fully Designed and Customized Website: $5,000+

Fully customized websites start at around $5,000 and go up from there.

Determine your ROI (return on investment). Figure out what you want to make from your website and be prepared to pay about 10% to 15% of that amount to create a fully customized website.

(This is a general working rule for designers and developers in the US only.) 

4. Describe the goals of your website.

Determine the most important goal for your website. This will help guide the content, navigation and conversion points. You can add a secondary or tertiary goal but keep your website focused on your primary goal.

Sample goals:

  • Sell products
  • Grow your mailing list to grow your customer base
  • Brand your company
  • Provide service to your customers
  • Provide information to new or current customers
  • Generate new leads

Be prepared to provide your new web developer with as much information as you can about your business, competitors, and goals. The work you do now is work the developer won’t have to do later.

Where to look

SEO vs Freelancer Web Developer

1. Do a local website search for a related business.

  • You’ll find businesses like yours in your area who may have had their website designed locally.
  • Look at the bottom of their website for a link to the designer or developer who produced the site.

2. Look on LinkedIn, post a word on Facebook.

  • Be prepared to get a flood of responses.

3. Find some local Meetups at

  • There are hundreds of Meetups, and dozens in your area on WordPress, web design, and development. Go to a few, you’ll probably find an excellent designer or developer. They are there to meet you too!

4. Look on Craigslist [carefully!].

  • If you don’t know the “geek speak” of website development, I recommend that you give Craigslist a pass. There are some excellent freelancers on Craigslist, but you need to be clear in your requirements and know how to communicate this to your developer.

Agency or Freelancer

John Bolyard Website Design Freelancer vs Agency


  • Professional web design agencies are a team of professionals including designers, programmers, engineers/developers, photographers and videographers, writers and editors. When you hire an agency the costs will generally be higher as you are getting their whole team managed by a project manager dedicated to your website project.


  • Freelancers are usually able to do two or three functions of a design agency, and have a cadre of other freelancers to call upon when they need elements outside of their skillset. Freelancers usually don’t have project managers so you deal directly with the designer or developer.

Click here for a more in-depth review of Agencies vs Freelancers.

Take a look at their current website

Is the website easy to navigate? Does it make sense? Can you find the information you’re looking for quickly and easily?

1. Can you find what you’re looking for quickly?

Does their website give you an opportunity to interact with the information (Call, Email etc)?

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  6. Request a Quote
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  10. Start Now

2. Do all the websites in their portfolio look similar?

Is their portfolio varied? Are there several different styles and approaches in the websites they’ve done?

3. Who are their clients – do you fit into their portfolio?

Does their portfolio have websites that match your business sector and size? Do the websites in their portfolio have the functionalities you need?

6 Questions you should be asking them

1. Are they able to do everything you need?

  1. Design and development
  2. Build in SEO
  3. Build in the social media
  4. Content writing/creation
  5. Development and programming
  6. eCommerce (specialized)

2. Are they local?

I like to work with people who are local, or at least in my timezone. If you are new to website development it’s nice to sit down with your developer and go over the process.

I don’t recommend working remotely, especially outside of the country, unless you have a lot of experience and have worked via Skype, email, phone etc.

3. What is their payment process?

Your developer should create several different milestones for the payment process. Most require a deposit, and payments for different stages of completion.

4. Do they have multiple ways of communicating?

Email, Skype, SMS, Phone, GoTo Meeting, TeamViewer, etc.

5. Once the site is launched, what then?

Websites need upgrading and maintenance. Does your web developer provide these services or can they recommend someone?

6. What is their process in turning over the websites and logins at the end of the project?

At the end of the project you should have complete access to the website, front and backend, the hosting and the registration.

Very Important!!

It is very important that all the registrations and logins belong to you, and after the project is completed you take final possession of all the registration, hosting, and social media related to your site.

3 Questions they should be asking you

1. Why do you need a website, what is purpose of your website?

  1. More leads for your sales funnel
  2. Direct sales / eCommerce
  3. Branding
  4. Outreach
  5. Marketing / Blogging

2. What are your goals for your new or redesigned website?

  1. Increase conversion rates
  2. Increase sales
  3. Generate more leads
  4. Reduce overhead
  5. Improve brand awareness

3. Questions about your company.

  1. What services or goods does your company offer?
  2. Does your company have a branding identity, logo, style sheet?
  3. Who are your company’s target audience?
  4. Describe your typical client.
  5. Who are your competitors?
  6. Are you local, regional or national?
  7. What content do you have – images, videos, articles?
  8. Can they review your current site analytics?
  9. What do you want your visitors to do?
  10. What is the plan for getting visitors to convert into customers?

Chatting on the phone

Website projects typically last for several months, and communication is Job #1 for your developer. Look for the following indicators when you speak to them before signing on with them.

  1. Are they very forthcoming with their information?
  2. Do they listen well?
  3. Do they ask questions?
  4. Are their answers specific or vague? Do they seem transparent?
  5. Touch bases with them by phone, email, Skype etc.
  6. Because this is the best they are ever going to be!

Look for reviews


  • Yelp reviews can be unreliable. However, if you see a repeating pattern of complaints you might want to heed them.


  • LinkedIn is a great place to do research on people and companies. I look at profiles and in different groups to get an understanding of the person and the company.

General Google Search.

  • Do a Google search about the company and add the word “problem” and see if anything comes up.

Red Flags!!!

There are several red flags that should warn you off an agency or freelancer.

  1. Their website has a dark background with light type. One of the best ways to guarantee that your visitors won’t read your content is to have a black background with light type.
  2. Their website is slow to load. An increasingly important factor in Google’s Algorithm is how fast a website loads. Visitors tend to click off slow websites and this will drive your website down in the search engines results.
  3. They offer automated SEO services such as automated submissions to directories. Automated submissions are a red flag to Google.
  4. The company wants to host your site.
  5. They only do 100% hand coded sites and do not use a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Concrete 5 etc.
  6. They use only a proprietary CMS (content management system) as opposed to an open source CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc.


Typos are an indicator that the development firm is stretched a bit thin, or they are not as careful as they should be.


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What Our Article is About
How to Get a Great Website
Article Name
How to Get a Great Website
Once you've decided to hire an agency or a freelancer here are some guidelines you can follow to find the best person or agency to get your website done. Before starting your search create an outline of what you're looking for in your website, what kinds of clients you are targeting and your approximate budget.