7 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make When Hiring A Web Designer

Written By Matthew Martin

April 22, 2020

You’re probably looking to hire a website designer for your next website design project. If so, you’re in the right place. But, first of all, who is this written for?

This article is for anyone who is a marketing manager. That could be anything from, the CMO of the company to a marketing intern who has been tasked with finding a new website for a small or medium-sized business. It can also be for anyone who is a business owner, so if you own the business and you’re thinking about redesigning your website, this article is definitely for you.

This is an article that most other website developers, and web design companies, probably don’t want you to read. The reason is that most other web designers like to think of themselves as all-powerful wizards with magical powers. They use complex technical jargon and terminology to intimidate and mystify their clients into thinking that what they do is more complex than it is. If you know me, or you’ve read my other articles or guides you know I like to Keep It Simple. So this post will help you de-mystify the process of hiring a local website builder and walk you through what you should be looking for when thinking about hiring a web site designer.

Without further ado here are the:

Seven Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make When Hiring A Web Designer


Website Design Mistake #1, Paying Too Little

This may sound self serving, but this will make sense so hear me out.

The way a lot of people think about getting a new website design is, they have a certain amount of money and they think “If I pay less money for a website, I’ll have extra money left over. Therefore I win.” When this happens, they’ll go and get a Square Space, Wix, or even a GoDaddy website (I’m not linking to it, don’t do it) and they’ll think because they’ve saved money they’re coming out ahead of the deal.

Now here’s the thing: (Warren Buffet’s partner), who’s widely considered one of the greatest investors of all time, says that the most important thing when it comes to thinking about money is opportunity-cost.

What is opportunity-cost?

Instead of thinking the money-saving way: “I have this money, I need a website, I’m going to get a Square Space website and save money by doing it myself, therefore I win.”

Opportunity-cost thinkers, will think, “I have this money. I can do one of many different things, including getting a Square Space website, hire a student, a website builder near me, someone overseas, or a digital marketing agency. Which one will result in the most net-profit?”

7 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make When Hiring A Web Designer, Charlie Munger, Opportunity Costs, Warren Buffett

That’s really how you should be thinking about your web design project. In terms of opportunity cost.

It’s not so much, your return on investment on a single idea, it’s what’s the best overall net profit on all the different options available? Sometimes when you go the cheap route, you’re really losing a lot in terms of potential net profit.

Another thing people don’t consider when going the cheaper route is what’s the value of your time? When it comes to investing you’re either saving time or you’re saving money. Money buys you time and you have to ask yourself:


What’s the value of my time?

The analogy I like to give is something a lot of people can relate to- Ikea. The reason they’re able to charge so little for their furniture is they effectively pass on much of the work to their customer. I admit, the designer in me enjoys walking through the store but does anyone really enjoy trying to find the right pieces in the big warehouse, picking them, loading up everything, and don’t get me started on actually building these things.

I’ve been there and now I buy furniture with delivery and setup.

ikea frustration

Website Designer Mistake #2, Paying Too Much

This is the exact opposite of mistake #1. Let me start by revealing a dirty little secret when it comes to actual website design. Most people think, “I’m going to hire a professional website firm because I want a “real website” as opposed to a Word Press website.” What most people don’t realize is that all websites are made from the same stuff.

On the front-end it’s all just CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Yes, I mean all websites.

If you go to Apple.com, Facebook.com, Amazon.com, any website on the web, and you look at the source code, it’s just CSS and HTML. The HTML gives it structure, the CSS gives it design, and the JavaScript gives it animation and that’s it. Even if there’s video, it’s embedded the same way.

Mistake #3, Hiring a ‘Designer’ to Build Your Website

This might sound strange, but let me clarify what I mean when I say designer.

I’m talking about someone who’s strictly an artist, and there’s a lot of those out there.

A lot of ‘designers’ are only concerned about the aesthetics of the site. What it looks like, if it’s unique, or if it follows the latest website design trends. A lot of people in this category offer local web design and use tools like SquareSpace or Wix to do their work. Some may even use WordPress but at the end of the day they don’t really know what the primary purpose of a website is. they don’t ‘get it.’

What’s the primary purpose of a website?

Is it to look beautiful? Is it to improve user experience? How about to win awards?

No, none of those. The purpose is get prospects to convert.

This may mean different things but if you’re running a commercial business, the purpose of the website is to make money. Even non-profits need to convert prospects into donations or volunteers etc.

The only thing you should judge a website by is, ‘does it bring in more money?‘ Otherwise, what’s the point of getting it? Right?

Most designers don’t understand this. Hell, most web design companies don’t even understand. They take the approach of “we work to bring you leads, it’s on you to turn leads into profits.”

Although this is approach is a step in the right direction, it isn’t the best. The way I like to think about a website is, there’s a particular person, and they’re looking for something, and there’s a next step that they want to take. What we do when working with clients is we identify those people, we call them buyer persona’s. Then we identify the why, how, when, they start looking. This is the buyer’s journey. Once we understand this, the rest falls into place.

Who are the different types of people coming to the site?

buyer persona's web design dallas web designer near me

What are they looking for?

buyer journey, web designer near me, web design dallas

What’s the next step that they want to take?

buyer decision, web designer near me dallas texas

This is the only “magic” that really maters. Defining those variables is our process for converting leads into customers and it is what separates “designers” from “digital marketers.”

Web Design Mistake #4, Not Getting a CMS

What is a CMS? A CMS stands for Content Management System, and it’s a piece of software to manage and update your website. WordPress and SquareSpace are both a CMS, and there are hundreds of different CMS’s out there. The one thing to note is not all CMS’s are the same, even within WordPress.

There’s a concept within business called a phantom deliverable. A phantom deliverable is something that you, as the business, give to your customers that they’re not really expecting or they don’t know that they should be expecting it. When most people are buying a website, they only think about the front-end. They think about its appearance, and they don’t really think about the ease of use or the number of hours or frustration it would take to edit and update the site.

Sometimes you’ll get a site like this on the backend that’s very hard to edit and update. You essentially have to know how to code to be able to do so. This is what HTML website’s are known as, where you edit the HTML files directly on the server, and have to know how to code in order to get anything done. It sucks.

If you want something as easy as updating your Facebook profile. Then you need a CMS, especially if you are considering project based web design instead of a managed website service.

One thing I would advise is to check under the hood of the company that you’re looking at. Ask to see what the back end uses and if it is built using a CMS.

Local Website Designer Mistake #5, Not Doing Your Due Diligence

Reviews are important, so look them up on Google, LinkedIn and Facebook. See if people are saying nice things about them, or if anyone is saying anything particularly bad.

The most important thing is ‘do you like their work?’ We talked about this before, but at the end of the day, that’s what you’re getting. You’re getting the results, so make sure you’re happy with what they make for others.

The days of portfolio’s are dead. All a portfolio does is prove that they can copy someone else’s work.

I would encourage you to look for case studies. This is usually a quick way to tell the difference between a designer and digital marketer, but please note, a lot of digital marekting agencies work under NDA’s and do not disclose those that they work with. This is why portfolio’s are less common in the digital marketing world, and case studies are much better.

Web Site Designer Mistake #6, They Don’t Practice What They Preach

Just as you wouldn’t trust an overweight personal trainer or a skinny chef, you shouldn’t trust a designer with an ugly looking website or an SEO specialist who doesn’t rank well on Google. The same goes for digital marketers who use direct outreach to generate leads.

If someone is selling you the idea of getting traffic through Google or Pay Per Click or Social Media, but they’re using cold outreach, like direct emailing or cold calls- they aren’t practicing what they preach. Successful digital marketers do not need to cold call, in fact, they may even have a waiting list.

Web Design Project Mistake #7, Not Having A Proper Web Design Brief.

A successful website project is a collaboration between you and the design agency that you choose to work with. It’s a combination of the needs of your business and the skill and expertise of a great web design company.

Our guide features five important steps that are crucial for a winning website project.

If you work together in tandem with your web designer on these, you’re going to end up with a project that everyone will be proud of.

Want to learn more? Check out our free guide:

5 steps to a Successful Website Project

You May Also Like

Graphic Design Projects

Managed Websites

Social Media Clients

Resources and Guides, Web Design Ebooks

Improve Your Marketing

Get fresh tips, how-tos, and expert advice to make marketing that really freaking works.

(12,500 marketers are already doing it.)

You have Successfully Subscribed!