How To Hire A Web Designer Without Getting Ripped Off

Is your website like a second home to you? Do you spend at least 6 hours a day on your website, spreading the word about how awesome your company is?

Do you wish it was a little bit prettier?

Are you looking to hire a web designer but don’t know where to start?

Look no further. We’ve got you covered.

Here is our simple step-by-step guide for hiring a web designer and making sure you don’t get ripped off.

How to Hire a Web Designer For Your Small Business
Research potential website designers and check their portfolio and online reviews to ensure their credibility.
Be clear on your budget, timeline, and expectations upfront to avoid surprises and misunderstandings.
Use a clear contract that outlines the scope of work, timeline, and payment terms to protect yourself from potential rip-offs.
Outsourcing web development and design work can be a cost-effective way to get quality work done, but vet potential contractors carefully.
Be wary of website designer scams and avoid designers who ask for payment upfront, promise unrealistic results, or use high-pressure sales tactics.

Hire Someone You Trust

You should hire someone you trust. Your developer is going to have access to your financial data, personal information, and source files. Make sure they are someone you can trust with this information.

You should hire someone you can work with. This person will be responsible for transforming your business website into a reality—you will be working together very closely in order to get the job done right. You need to make sure that they are easy to talk to and articulate clearly what needs to be done in order for your site to function properly.

You should hire someone who has experience in your industry or niche. If you’re looking at hiring a web developer for a cosmetics site, then it might not be a good idea to hire someone who specializes in development for casinos. Just as every business is different, every industry has its own unique set of needs and expectations from customers visiting their sites—make sure whoever develops yours knows this!

If you’re looking to improve your web design freelancing career, take a look at our guide on 22 expert tips to help you take your career to the next level.

Know Exactly What You Want And Negotiate From A Position Of Strength

Before you start down the dark path toward hiring a web developer, make sure you know exactly what it is you want. Are you looking for someone to design and build your website? Or are you looking for someone to design a site that can be easily handed off to another company (or internal IT department) to actually build? Knowing this will keep you from getting surprised by an unexpected bill for services rendered.

Once you know exactly what it is that you want, assemble as much of the content as possible before contacting anyone about building a site for your business. If at all possible, try not to have anyone else do any work on a potential new site until all of the pieces are in place and the designer knows exactly what they’re working with. This will prevent design changes further down the line that could cost more money than they’re worth.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For References And Talk To Them

As we’ve already discussed, one of the most important things you can do when choosing a web designer is to check out their client feedback.

Another thing you may want to do is ask for references and actually call them. You can explain that you are thinking of using this designer, and ask them if they were happy with the service they received, would they recommend this designer, did they have any problems with certain areas of the process, etc.

If there is something about their work that you are not sure about or worried about – don’t just be afraid to ask for clarification! This will remove any uncertainty at the outset and will help to avoid problems further down the line.

Starting a career in freelance web design can be daunting, but our guide on 19 rules can help you navigate the waters and set yourself up for success.

Ask For A Written Quote Or Contract

Regardless of what you and the designer work out, make sure you get a written quote or contract. The quote should specify the scope of the project so there is no ambiguity as to what you are paying for. It’s not uncommon for people to agree on a price verbally and then have disputes later on when they realize that certain features weren’t included in the original quote. Ask for a fixed price rather than an hourly rate, if possible. 

This can help prevent your costs from spiraling out of control if your web designer ends up spending more time than expected on your website. Also, make sure that there are no hidden costs—e.g., fees for uploading images or setting up contact forms or other commonly used functionality—and make sure the contract includes a payment schedule so you don’t end up having to pay everything in one lump sum at the end of the project.

Read The Contract Carefully Before You Sign It

Before you sign a website contract, make sure you’ve read it carefully

Does it specifically state that the site will be built in WordPress? Do the specifications reflect what was discussed?

Are your name and address correctly on the contract?

Are there any points that are unclear or need further explanation? If so, speak to your web designer about them before signing.

Does hosting come with the package or is it an add-on service? If hosting is included, what kind of hosting is it and how much traffic does it handle before going into overload mode?

What do you get with basic maintenance (if maintenance is included)? Can you update the text yourself or do they have to do this for you? Will they back up your site regularly at no extra charge or does this cost extra as well? How often will they back up your site for free and if it’s not often enough can you pay for more frequent backups at some point in the future when needed?

Are you a freelance web designer looking to maximize your productivity and creativity? Check out our guide on getting the most out of your work for tips on how to stay organized and inspired.

Weigh The Pros And Cons Of Using A Template Website

Not every business needs a custom-built website, and not every web designer will accept a project that uses one. If you decide to use a template, make sure you understand the licensing and use restrictions. Consider using multiple templates before committing to one. With all of these in mind, weigh the pros and cons:


  • Lower cost
  • Quick setup time


  • Less customization than a custom design
  • Harder to make changes

Understand Copyright And Trademark Issues Before You Hire Your Web Designer

Copyright is a legal right granted to an original work of authorship. In other words, only the person who creates the work owns it, and that owner can control how the work may be used and distributed. This includes copying, distributing, posting on websites, giving away as gifts or prizes, and selling copies of the work.

The copyright holder has certain rights in regards to their own work, including the right to copy or reproduce their copyrighted material. They also control whether they wish to allow others to make copies of their works. If you want permission from someone before using their copyrighted material for your own purposes (for example for a blog post or website), then you must ask for permission either in writing or verbally first. Nobody wants to have their hard-earned content copied without permission by those who have not asked first.

Considering hiring a freelance web designer but not sure if it’s worth the investment? Take a look at our guide on 15 reasons why hiring a freelance web designer may be the best decision for your business.

Ask About Your Rights To The Content You Pay To Have Produced For Your Site

When you pay a web designer to work on your site, always have a conversation about the rights to the content you’re paying for. Make sure you get all of your questions answered, and that what you’re getting is exactly what you want. Some examples of these questions include:

  • Who owns the design (and the code) for my site?
  • Will I be able to take it with me after the fact if I part ways with this developer?
  • What are my rights to any images or videos I pay him or her to create?
  • Who owns the domain name, and will it be transferred over or released upon completion?

Get The Assurance That The Site Can Be Changed Easily

After you have established that the web designer has good design skills and a portfolio of sites that you like, it’s time to make sure that your site is going to be designed with flexibility in mind. You want a site where you can easily add new content or update old information yourself. Your web designer should build your new website so that it would be easy for you or other firms in the future to make changes to your site without incurring high fees.

Ask the web designers about their process for designing websites and ask them how they can make it easier for you to change the content on your website yourself. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, then find another designer who knows content management systems and how to design flexible sites.

Make sure that if you hire any web designers, they are willing to give you training on how to use your new website after its launch day. If they aren’t willing or able to provide this service, then it’s time to look elsewhere – because if something happens and they disappear off the face of the earth (or move away), who are you going to call?

If you’re interested in starting a career in freelance web design, our guide on getting started is a great resource for learning the basics and setting yourself up for success.

Don’t Overlook The Impact Of Design On Your Seo Efforts And Search Engine Results

You’re probably already aware of the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), but it’s easy to overlook how design can affect your SEO efforts. When you’re planning a website revamp, make sure that you have an SEO plan in place from the beginning so that you don’t have to make changes later on because the website isn’t optimized for search engines.

Designing websites for SEO is nothing new, but it’s amazing how many companies overlook this important factor. A poorly executed website redesign could result in a loss of valuable content or custom features that are essential to achieving top rankings on Google.

Check The Design If Is Mobile Friendly 

Make sure your pages are mobile responsive and will look good on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop monitors of different sizes.

Mobile responsive design (MRD) means that your website is automatically scaled to look great on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop monitors of different sizes.

As a rule of thumb when you are looking for a web designer, ask them if they can do MRD. If they don’t know what it is or say no, don’t hire them. You can test if an existing web page is mobile responsive by resizing the browser window on your laptop or desktop computer. Shrink down the window until its width matches the size of a smartphone screen; does the site look good?

If not, it’s time to contact that web designer and have them optimize your site for mobile devices. How do you find a good web designer? Read my article on how to hire a website designer without getting ripped off!

Be wary of any company that brags it will get you to the top of search results quickly or offers steep discounts if you sign up tomorrow.

When you pay for an ad, you can appear at the top of search results. That’s not the case with organic results. As a rule, it’s impossible to guarantee a high ranking on search engines. Since Google doesn’t divulge its algorithm, it’s impossible to know what factors exactly affect your position on the page. A good SEO firm will tell you that they’ll do their best to boost your rankings without making any guarantees—ideally in writing.

It’s also important to realize that algorithms are constantly changing, which means it takes time and effort to achieve and maintain high rankings on any search engine. This isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something that someone else can promise for you unless they have inside information about Google or other search engine algorithms (which no one does). 

In fact, any company promising quick results is likely using outdated strategies or otherwise violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in an effort to artificially inflate your standings at least until the next update occurs—at which point those unethical tactics will likely cause more harm than good.

Be Prepared To Renegotiate – But Don’t Expect Miracles

The reality is that you’re going to have to be willing to pay more than your original quote. If you’re not prepared for this, it can lead to a lot of stress and tension between yourself as the business owner and a well-meaning web designer who’s just doing their job.

To get ahead of the curve, set aside some extra money for additional costs before hiring a web designer. That way, you won’t be left scrambling for funding when the bill goes up higher than expected. Make sure not to pay any more than 50% upfront – save the rest of your money until you’ve seen what your site will look like so that if you don’t like it or need changes made, you haven’t already given over your whole budget.

Wrapping Up

The best way to hire a web designer without getting ripped off is to simply go with your gut. Referrals are usually great ways to find someone you can trust, so taking a friend’s word for it when they say the new guy they found is amazing can help you avoid making a mistake that can cost you time, money, and more.

Further Reading

How to Hire a Website Designer and Not Get Burned: Forbes article with tips on hiring a website designer and avoiding common pitfalls.

Outsource Web Development & Design Work Without Getting Ripped Off: A2 Hosting’s blog post on outsourcing web development and design work without getting ripped off.

Rip Off: How to avoid getting ripped off by website designers: A website that provides resources for avoiding website designer scams and rip-offs.

People Also Ask

What Should I Do If I Think I’ve Been Ripped Off By My Web Designer?

If you think your web designer has ripped you off, the first thing you should do is attempt to contact them and let them know what happened. If that doesn’t work, file a police report and take your case to small claims court.

How Do I Hire A Web Designer Without Getting Ripped Off?

The internet is full of great people who are ready to help you bring your ideas to life. Unfortunately, it’s also full of scammers who will take your money and run. So how do you make sure you end up with the former instead of the latter?

First, consider your needs. What kind of site do you need? How much are you willing to spend? How flexible is your budget? What’s your timeline for completion?

Next, figure out what kind of web designer you want to work with. Do you want a freelancer or someone who works in-house for an agency? If it’s an agency, do you want a large one or a small one?

Now that you know what you’re looking for, start searching! Social media can be a great place to start—you’re more likely to find genuine people rather than faceless corporations when searching on Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget about Facebook and LinkedIn too!

Once you’ve done some initial digging and found some peeps who might be right for the job, reach out to them! Ask them all about their process, but don’t forget to check out their portfolio as well.

How Does A Web Designer Usually Charge For Their Services?

The price of your custom website will vary widely depending on the company you choose and the features you need. Generally, though, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $20,000 for a new website.

If you’re looking for some extra bells and whistles—like e-commerce or a membership portal—you’ll be on the higher end of that range. For a simpler site, like a one-page landing page or a portfolio site, you may be on the lower end.

How Do I Know If I Need A Web Designer?

If you’re looking to create a website, but you have no idea how to do it yourself, then you likely need a web designer. That’s what they’re there for—to design your website for you. But if you’ve already created a website, and are just looking to redesign it, or if you’re looking for someone to design a part of the site (like an image), then you probably don’t need a full-on web designer.

In that case, look into hiring someone on Fiverr or Upwork. They can help with the small stuff so you can get back to your day-to-day work!

Why Should I Hire A Web Designer?

There are so many reasons. First of all, having a website is pretty much just a requirement for doing business nowadays. But beyond that, a website can help you level up your business. With the right web designer, you can make your site stand out from the competition and turn it into a place where customers actually want to spend time. A great website is an amazing way to solidify your brand and create an impression on consumers.

How Do I Know If I Need A Website Or Not?

If you want to leave a lasting impression on potential customers, answer questions about your business and products, create an online presence for your company, or promote yourself as an individual, then you need to get a website.

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