How can I find a Web designer?
June 15, 2005 8:32 AM   Subscribe

How can I find someone to do the html and design for my Web site? I have had a Web site for ten years now and have always done the design and html myself, by hand, using Photoshop, BBEdit, and Fetch on a Mac. I need a re-design, and am at the point where I think I could benefit from the help of an html/css expert, and probably from a graphic designer as well.

I have a very specific idea of the functionality I need, and it's extremely simple (less than ten pages for the entire site). I work in the media business (music for films), so it's crucial that the site be cool and interesting (whatever that means).

It's easy to find legions of 15-year-olds willing to do the entire job for $17.

It's easy to find a consulting firm willing to do the job for $10,000.

Neither of those are good options. How do I find the actual person to do this work? How much should I expect to pay?
posted by blakeleyh to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Send me a link to your (current) website and I'll see what I can do for you.

Been working fulltime as a consultant for six years. Just HTML and CSS, that's all I do. All day long.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:35 AM on June 15, 2005

If you're doing music industry stuff, you probably want someone who can do audio/video in Flash. Not necessarily the whole site in Flash, but it's a better solution for showcasing your product than embedding media in other formats. Almost everybody has Flash, and most people hate loading external players.

I could help...
posted by CaptApollo at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2005

As someone who is on the receiving end of this conversation all the time, my advice is that you put some good thought into what you want to do and what your budget range is to accomplish that. Then submit that to various people who's work you find interesting and ask for proposals. When you get responses, you should be looking for more than, "OK, I'll do it." Rather, you should look for the proposal to include specific ideas and suggestions for your site, examples of similar projects they've worked on, problems encountered and solved, etc. Since it is an area where there are not necessarily concrete "right" and "wrong" answers, you should be looking for an overall proposal that makes sense to you, and someone you think you can communicate with. To get the ball rolling, it really helps if you can be forthcoming with the basic info: here's who I am, here's what I want to do, here's the general budget I have in mind.
posted by spilon at 8:54 AM on June 15, 2005

It may be obvious but you can post a free job proposal on the craigslist web design boards. Be brutally specific about the parameters of the job (see spilon's advice). Setup a gmail or other free web mail account to handle the responses- require a portfolio and references. A good applicant will let their work speak for itself, since you know some html- check the source code of their portfolio and make sure they write good code.
posted by jeremias at 9:30 AM on June 15, 2005

You could try Elance, where freelancers have a chance to bid on your project. Or if you've seen another website that you like, try asking the owner who did their site.
posted by geeky at 9:53 AM on June 15, 2005

If you don't mind paying less for a third-world expert, you should consider rent a coder. Many times bidders might send you designs before you commit.
posted by blueyellow at 10:10 AM on June 15, 2005

I would strongly recommend you avoid eLance, rentacoder, and similar sites; you get what you pay for. And usually less.

Maybe this is because I'm one of those pricey consultants, but with just the details you've provided, I'd say the $10,000 quotes you're getting from the consulting firms is not unreasonable. The same amount of work goes into designing a 10 page site as a 100 page site, and the "cool and interesting" part implies you need a lot more than a simple template to hold your text.

You might luck out and find a talented kid who doesn't yet know the value of his own work, by posting on craigslist or, um, here. But you're more likely to get an amateurish design that doesn't really fit your business or target market. Professionals can charge what they charge because they're professionals -- you get what you pay for.

Spilon's advice above is excellent -- the more specific you can be about what you want, the more likely you are to get it.
posted by ook at 10:22 AM on June 15, 2005

I too am one of those high pricey consultants, but I have no shame in fleecing the Fortune 500 peeps, as they in turn, will fleece me as well.

Projects like the one listed above is usually something I do for a nominal charge, < $500, mostly because i enjoy the work, it gives me a chance to work outside the rigid templates of corporate america, inc., and i'm able to give back to people. especially those who cannot afford $10k for cool>
I've worked with too many over-priced "cool & funky" designers who's main focus is their resume, not the needs of the client.

I built this site over a rainy weekend. I charged nothing and will hopefully give these guys a chance to get the word out. Do they look like they can afford $10K for a webpage? No.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:51 AM on June 15, 2005

Moxie Design Studios may be a good fit. I've never used them but their sites are nicely designed (they do a lot of blogs). I know they closely work with their clients to make sure the client gets what s/he wants. Last time I checked their prices were reasonable.
posted by deborah at 11:09 AM on June 15, 2005

A friend of mine does extremely good, clean design. He's also made CSS his bitch. He's currently hip-deep in redesigning the entire web presence of a college out west, but I suspect he'd be happy to wrap his head around something else in his off-time. My email is [myusername] if you'd like me to put him in touch with you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:45 AM on June 15, 2005

Many companies are REAL reluctant to work with small businesses because they are most often, the WORST clients to have.

They can't tell the difference between a WHOA WHIZZBANG FLASH SITE that's designed by a 15 year old and a professional usable site that costs $10k, and thus they ask "HEY WHY DOES THIS COST MORE THAN $1000? THAT'S CRAZY" and complain about the pace at which work is completed etc etc (which makes us hate you, by the way). Basically, the money they're spending seems like a lot to them, and they expect a lot for it -- when in reality, a $1000 website is pretty cheap.

The upside for you is that you don't need a lot of programming work (aside from actionscripting) which should make the project cheaper. I would look for a freelance flash developer, if i were you. Someone working out of their home is going to have slightly less overhead and be able to do it cheaper for you. The downside to this is that they might be slightly less professional, but as long as you vet their work yourself you should be ok.

If you want something awesome, I'd say you're going to have to take a risk and go with some kid in design school. That kid needs portfolio builders and will probably bust ass and give you more than you paid for. I think it's unlikely that someone who's already done handfuls of badass websites and gotten paid market value for it is going to cut you a deal.

lastly, when anyone calls us and asks us for a website, we always say "our cheapest website is $2000" -- just to give you an idea.
posted by fishfucker at 11:51 AM on June 15, 2005

of course, the $2000 figure is for more than just a skinned template. if you're ok with something like that, I'm sure you can find it cheap.
posted by fishfucker at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2005

Best answer: Finding a web designer you like is tricky. There are tons of contractors who write standards-compliant XHTML/CSS, and do it well. If you know where to look, they're easy to find. What it ultimately comes down to, is what do you want the site to look like? As long as good code goes without saying, your focus should be on look and feel and functionalilty. This is, after all, a site representing you and your work.

That said, my approach would be to scour CSS Zen Garden, Style Gala, or CSS Vault, find a designer whose style appeals to you, and contact him or her. Many of the designers showcased on these sites are independent contracts, and are available by the hour (in Portland, OR at least, $75/hr. is about standard). You shouldn't worry about finding someone local. Projects like this can be done over the web.

One last thing: I would advise finding a designer who can also implement a management system -- Textpattern or Movable Type or something. It shouldn't add that many hours to the project, and will make your site much easier to manage, if you ever decide to change/add content.
posted by kables at 12:07 PM on June 15, 2005

Response by poster: If you want something awesome, I'd say you're going to have to take a risk and go with some kid in design school. That kid needs portfolio builders and will probably bust ass and give you more than you paid for.

How do you find that kid?
posted by blakeleyh at 1:33 PM on June 15, 2005

Word-of-mouth is, without a doubt, the web designer's best friend. Look around for sites that you think are usable and well-designed, and ask the site owners who did their design; that way you know you'll end up talking to soeone who does quality work.

Ditto the advice to stay away from places like elance; I don't know any competent professionals who actually frequent those job boards.

And if all else fails, drop me a line ( with a description of what you need done, and I'll see what I can do to help you out.
posted by ubernostrum at 3:18 PM on June 15, 2005

How do you find that kid?

craigslist, posting notices at local colleges, networking -- those are a few examples I can think of. It's not like there's a million stellar kids out there doing work, but I happen to have known folks that did incredible design/web work in college who would've been willing or did do pages cheap.

but no, you can't just open up the phonebook and flip to "STARVING STUDENTS WEB DESIGN" -- that's why you might possibly be getting a deal.
posted by fishfucker at 5:14 PM on June 15, 2005

How do you find that kid?

Call the local art institute
Call the local university art program
Call the junior colleges and tech schools that teach design.

(I would go in that order, personally.)

You have a couple of options, depending on levels of available capital, both financial and personal. If you know anyone at the design schools/ becomes a little easier. Then, you can usually suggest a project/contest with a stipend for the "winner". The advantage in this solution is huge, in that you get to see X number of design ideas. (x being the number of students who enter the contest.)

If you don't know anyone at the schools, then your best bet is to call the administrative head (the office manager, as it were, of the department) and ask about bulletin boards and announcements. They'll generally let you put something up at the school if you're polite.

I've fed legions of art school kids, and I can tell you that most of them can't afford internet access to their cardboard box apartments, so hunting for one at the school is much easier prey.

That said, be fair. A professional web designer will make between $50 to $150 an hour. If you hire a art school kid, don't treat them like off-shore labor. You might be surprised how good karma to artists can come back later.
posted by dejah420 at 7:39 PM on June 15, 2005

although i'm sure you've already been taken care of, I too am a web and graphic designer with a focus of HTML/CSS. So if you like, shoot me an email or go to my website notionstudios in my profile.

But i'd be happy to help answer any web related questions anytime.

That said, yes, craigslist is a good resource for this.
posted by freudianslipper at 1:45 PM on June 17, 2005

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