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How to Choose and Work with a Website Designer for Social Enterprises

As a social enterprise, your website communicates a lot of information to get your message across. Here’s how to work with a website designer to get results.


If you’ve never worked with a web designer or developer before, you might have questions about what the process looks like. For example, what tasks is this individual really responsible for? What kind of effect will they have on your brand and mission?

Web designers and developers play a significant role in launching, redesigning, or introducing your organization to a new audience. But first, you have to do your research and understand what this working relationship is like in order to make sure your collaboration is successful.

In this post, we’ll introduce effective ways to find and work with a website designer or developer–especially if this is your first time. After reading, you’ll be more equipped (and less stressed) to make this important decision for your organization.

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Tips on how to choose a website designer and developer

If you’re searching for a web designer or developer, you might feel overwhelmed by the possibilities. There are thousands of qualified professionals who can help you achieve your vision, but not everyone is a good fit (because of speciality, cost, availability, etc.)

It’s important to know what to look for as you narrow down your options. Here’s a snapshot of what you can look for to simplify the search.

  • A specialization in social enterprise or cause-driven organizations (alignment leads to success)
  • Availability or bandwidth to commit to your project for the long haul
  • Extra support and technology-based resources (if your project requires an outside skill or level of expertise that isn’t found in-house)
  • Previous experience working on similar projects
  • Customer testimonials or case studies that add credibility and illustrate success

Role distinctions—web designer vs. web developer

Occasionally, you might hear the terms “web designer” and “web developer” used interchangeably. While there is some crossover between the two jobs, there are also major distinctions that you should know before making a hiring decision.

  • Web designers – Web designers have a graphic design or art background and are focused on making websites aesthetically pleasing. Designers focus on layouts, color palettes, and visual appearances. The best designers also have a rich understanding of user experience in order to design pleasing websites that keep site visitors engaged. 
  • Web developers – Web developers are in charge of building the core components of a website. These professionals aren’t as interested in how the website looks as much as they are in how it works. Web developers need a thorough understanding of coding, user experience and interface, programming languages, and content management systems.

Why is this distinction crucial? Sometimes, decision makers think they need the help of a designer when they really need a developer (or vice versa). Understanding the difference can help you avoid wasting time, resources, and choosing a designer or developer wisely.

Website design for social enterprises

Producing websites for social enterprises is more than creating a site to sell a product or service for the sake of profit. You should aim to produce a professional web presence that communicates how your business changes the world for the better. Good design must communicate how you use your revenue differently–either to reinvest, donate, or make a positive impact in the world at large.

Web design for cause-driven organizations must always accomplish the following tasks:

  • Communicate the value of your organization to the community and to key stakeholders
  • Showcase the value or tangible results of your efforts
  • Encourage or inspire potential contributors to take action (through financial contributions, volunteering, participation, and more)
  • Provide contact information and any other reports or data that should be publicly accessible

Know the average cost of web designer or developer

Knowing the expected cost for services like web design and development can help you set aside necessary funding or pick the best time to make a website investment. 

According to WebFX, web design and development services can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a single project to up $100,000 for large scale website overhauls or builds from scratch. The bigger the scope of the project and the longer the commitment, the more likely it is that anticipated costs fall on the higher end of the spectrum.

If your designer or developer doesn’t offer a project-based rate, you may need to discuss hourly pay rates for web design services. When using the hourly model, always ensure that your designer or developer can finish the project while staying within your budget.

Costs of freelancers vs. agencies

When it comes to the cost of web design services, you’ll likely get to choose between freelance professionals (who work as independent contractors) or full-scale agencies.

There are pros and cons to working with each one, so be sure to truly get to know the person you hire. Although freelancers have lower overhead and can usually work directly with you, agencies may provide more resources, and better business acumen.

Costs can vary greatly between each option, so don’t be afraid to ask up front what you can expect to pay for your intended project.

Pitfalls to choosing a low budget web designers or web developers

The price range for designers and developers varies immensely. If this is your first experience, it’s not required that you hire the most expensive choice, but you should be careful of aiming too low.

Quality work necessitates fair and honest pricing, and sometimes the old adage is true–you get what you pay for. If the lowest cost is what ultimately leads to your decision, remember to be cautious of things like:

  • Reliable and effective communication
  • Key project milestones and deadlines
  • Number of rounds of edits and revisions
  • Additional customer support when and if you need it

In the provider-client relationship, red flags include extremely slow communication, reluctance to make changes or edits (as agreed upon), mismatching values, and designers that simply overrule or ignore client requests.

a chalkboard with a-b written in two sets

Ensure the project flows smoothly (from the client perspective)

To ensure the project flows smoothly from your side of things, it’s important to stay involved without being overbearing. Remember, you’ve hired a skilled professional to tackle a part of your social enterprise that needs help. Allow the experts to do their best work, and provide constructive feedback if something isn’t up to your expectations.

Good interpersonal communication skills and adequate preparation are key to a good experience (and to the working relationship). Avoid making any assumptions about what your designer or developer knows about your brand, and stay on top of important questions, milestones, and requests for more detail.

Tips for talking to designers to reduce frustration and confusion

Remember– transparency is the best policy. 

When you hire a web designer or developer to improve the branding at your social enterprise, it’s always best to over-communicate. Taking the time to voice your expectations and ideas can spare you from extra stress and roadblocks later on in the process.

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Questions to ask upon hiring

As you search for your next designer or developer, think of the process like a two-way interview. You should walk away from conversations with a firm grasp on personality cohesiveness, design process, artistic or technical style, and communication habits.

Once you make your hiring decision, there are a few key questions you should ask to help everyone feel more confident. These questions include:

  • Who will be my primary point of contact? (Project manager or designer/developer)
  • What level of content or copy will be needed to complete the website project?
  • How will you communicate what assets you need or which ones are missing?
  • Is this project completely customizable or built from a template?
  • Can you provide references or referrals for any services that are outside the scope of our designated contract/agreement?

Remember that your designer or developer may not always be equipped to write website copy, optimize your site according to SEO practices, or answer strategic branding questions for you. These additional services should be clearly outlined in a contract if they are expected as part of the original project scope.

What to provide when working with a website designer or developer

Even though you’re hiring an expert to create a finished product, your help is needed to make sure the workflow is smooth and stress-free. Your designer or developer might provide a list of required items, but if not, you should send the following.

  • Accurate and updated contact information
  • Relevant business and marketing assets
  • Approved logos, graphics, hex codes, and other branding material
  • Clear design vision or list of main goals
  • Expectations for approvals, troubleshooting, and edits

As you can see, you play a critical role in the design or development process. Without your insight, vision, and direction, the project will be missing several essential elements.

Let us help! Move forward with your web design goals today.

At Acton Circle, we know that you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a web designer or developer. By partnering with Acton Circle, you’ll experience the benefits of brand strategy and transformational web design and UX/UI rolled into one seamless experience.

We’re passionate about designing creative brands and websites that help more people take action on the causes they care about. Let’s design something great together!
Book an intro call with us to get started on your upcoming web design project.

Published
January 18, 2022

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About Olivia Wheeler

With nearly 10 years of design experience, Olivia has learned about the importance of storytelling in the world of design. She believes that well-crafted stories paired with captivating design have the power to impact people in a positive way—every piece of content your business produces is telling a story.

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