Great Ideas Start Here

blog: a regularly updated web page, typically run by an individual or organization, containing relevant thoughts and ideas.
by: Christine Swartzendruber, Chief Technology Officer

Our company is on the lookout for a Creative Director to do Web Design for some of our cloud based applications, so I set out to find the most important things to look for in a web designer. This is what I found…

10. Personality. Do You Like Them? Should You Care?
You’re hiring someone for your team that drives a creative process. What type of personality would someone like that have? Probably not the same personality as your lead web developer. Creative minds are not the same as intellectual minds. You may find someone who is a perfectionist and a bit arrogant. He or she may not care about other people’s opinions, and your potential candidate may even be flat-out condescending when it comes to matters of art and design. But are you looking for an amazing designer or a new best friend? After all the traits I just described are those of Pablo Picasso. Talk about colorful, crazy web sites! You should, however, get a feel for whether this person would be receptive to some criticism, or would consider client feedback. Finding a balance between a creative demeanor and an agreeable personality is probably pretty important.

9. Why Does This Person Need A Job?
As I wrote previously, a web designer is not always the best choice for host or hostess of the company Christmas party, but why aren’t they already designing for someone else? Maybe their personality is just too abrasive and they struggle to work with a team, maybe they have a great portfolio but when it comes time to put out the product they have artist’s block, maybe they’re just looking for a better opportunity. Finding out the reason they are not already hot in the online design community is probably something you need to take into consideration.

8. Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years? 
Do interviewers still ask this question, really? If they’re smart they do. It’s important to know if this person has aspirations that don’t include your organization. If a designer is looking to better their personal portfolio with the work they do for you, great! Obviously the quality of work would be higher than someone who is just using you to finance their freelance career, where they actually build their own brand. You don’t want to hire someone who is looking to fill the same niche that you fill either. If they really want to do what you do without you, why would you want them to be doing it with you? Look for someone who is invested in the quality of their work, while not opposed to building your brand along the way.

7. What Web Browser Do YOU use?
This speaks volumes on it’s own, doesn’t it?

6. References
What was the last project your candidate completed and who was it for? Not only will you want to see it to get a visual understanding of the work, but you will want to talk to the people involved. Why? Because you’re going to be working with this person on their next project and if their entire previous process was a disaster, there is a good chance that’s what you can expect as well. Don’t just ask for references, check them!

5. How Much Do They Cost
People may say, “You get what you pay for”, is just a cliché, but it can be key when hiring a web designer. Why doesn’t it make sense to expect to be paid what you’re worth? If you find someone who can deliver great designs why would they accept less than a fair price for them? On the other hand if you find someone who is willing to work for peanuts, what can you expect in terms of quality? Expect to pay fair-market-value for the person you’ll trust your creative process to. If there is a position in your company you can skimp on, this is not the one.

4. What Industry Sites and Blogs Do You Read?
“Who is Jeffry Zeldman?” If your candidate asks you that after you ask about what industry blogs they read and what trends they follow, don’t hire them! Being in the loop on the latest trends in design and what leading designers have to offer, is very important. You always want to be on the cutting edge of design to stay ahead of your competitors, so choose someone who knows what it takes to get you there.

3. UX? What’s That And Who Cares?
Your potential web designer should care. UX stands for User Experience and it is how easily a visitor is able to navigate your site, or how difficult it is understanding how to use it. User experience is about the most important aspect of web design, because if a user is frustrated or can’t understand how to navigate your site they will probably just leave or find another product to use. Your users should be a focus in design and a designer should have experience gauging how people will view their work from the user’s perspective. If there is no one to see your site, it doesn’t matter how aesthetically pleasing it is, does it?

2. What Other Skills Do They Have To Offer
Most developers are not great designers, and most designers have no idea what a string variable is, but if they do that is a big plus. If you are hiring a web developer these days it is a necessity for them to be proficient with HTML and CSS. Higher level designers often know some jQuery or a little JavaScript. The more development skills your designer has the more they understand what is needed for the project they are working on, and the more they can contribute, which takes some of the pressure off of the rest of your team.

1. Can I See Your Portfolio?
Never, ever hire a designer without seeing their previous work! Why would you? The work that a person has done in the past is indicative of the work they will do in the future. Web designers often have a style of their own that you can pick up if you see multiple pieces of work they have created. If you love what they have done, and everything else checks out, hire them!