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How to get your ideal web designer
Looking for a job posting that will land me my ideal web designer

 5:11 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am currently in the process of hiring a web designer. The quality of applicants that we are receiving is startlingly low. Quality is subjective, so let me explain what I am looking for. In a nut shell, I'm looking for someone who can design a website and create graphics better than I can do myself. I am a web developer, responsible for coding. I have an extensive knowledge of usability and accessibility and I do have an eye for design, but I lack in the creativity that someone who is focused in web design should have. I survive designwise by borrowing ideas I like on the web and putting them together for what works on the site that I am working on. I'm not saying a web designer wouldn't do that as well, because we don't need to reinvent the wheel, applications are most usable when they feel familiar, but I would like to hire a designer who has talents beyond my untrained ones.

I would also like to hire someone with extensive Photoshop and Illustrator knowledge. So that if they were required to create a graphic of say a calendar logo they can either draw one or work with existing images to create an attractive graphic. Knowledge of typography and other design principles is a must.

I also require some HTML and CSS skills. Yes the difficult stuff can be done by a developer, but a true WEB designer needs to understand how their design will be represented on the web. If they do not know these things, they do not truly understand usability and accessibility which is essential in web design. Otherwise, they are just a graphic designer. We will also need assistance with day-to-day content maintenance which will require HTML/CSS knowledge.

With our resources we cannot hire a consultant and there is enough work for a full-time designer. The job also comes with a great opportunity to completely redesign a large scale website.

So that is what I am looking for. The applicants that we got have portfolios that look like Frontpage/Dreamweaver abominations from poor cookie-cutter template sites. Most are print designers impersonating a web designer. So if you're still reading, please help me find a qualified web designer. My standards sound high, but they really aren't. If you saw the applicants I have gotten, you'd understand.

Can you share a job posting that has landed you a great web designer or that you would post to get one?

Do you know of any good job websites to post on? We are near Boston, MA. and we try to put listings on bostonworks, craigslist, monster, and our own website.

Do you have any good interview questions or tasks?

Any advice would really be appreciated. Where have all the web designers gone?



 6:31 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

chadmg, why don't you put what is here in one of your job postings? It seems like that would weed out the point and drool crowd.

As a designer/developer/programmer myself I feel your pain, and totally agree. The bottom line, I think, is that most people in the market for web design are not looking for, and worse yet, don't understand, the importance of valid code and accessibility. They want the coolest-looking site ever, for them, presentation is the ONLY thing, and most of their experience is based on what they like about print media, so it all fits. An added bonus, there are people out there that will do it for next to nothing.

Another reason these types of designers do so well is probably one you are stricken with - a limitation in client budget. For quality design and development that meets your needs, it's going to be more costly.

Your complaints are based in well-founded technical requirements. (I **wish** half my clients were like you! :-) ) If you DO find a designer that meets this part of your need, now you still have to deal with the subjectiveness of the design. It may be fine but for whatever reason you just don't like it. My worst nightmare clients: "I don't know what I want, but that's not it."

So I don't know, where have the designers gone? We've taken ourselves out of the dime-a dozen down and dirty market and refuse to compete in that arena, I guess.


 6:33 pm on Dec 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't have answers but I've been wondering along the same lines. Where do you find a good someone willing to work on an already established site; tweaking it, updating it, adding new features to it, etc.

Peter Cornstalk

 6:53 am on Dec 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I need a web designer too...


 11:28 am on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm looking for one too - employed a mixture of 5 desingers/devlopers in 2006 but still need one more.

As someone who has been on the lookout for 3+ years I can tell you half decent web designers are VERY hard to find. Tried all the major job sites, local/national papers and a bout a gazillion agencies!

If anyone wants a job and lives in the Midalnds let me know!


 4:57 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm looking for someone who can design a website and create graphics better than I can do myself.

Maybe that's part of your problem.

You want ONE person who can design the website AND create graphics. The two do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

And what do you mean by "design"? Do you mean just the visual look? Or also the technical skills of HTML, CSS, etc.?

There are really three different skills sets involved. Ideally you'd be hiring three different people.


 8:11 pm on Dec 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm in the same geographic area and I'd say you are hitting the right venues for posting this position. From my perspective a good job post includes:

Job Title: As descriptive as possible. Instead of just "Web Designer" maybe "Photoshop / HTML / CSS Web Designer"

Position Summary: A bulleted list of skill set specific tasks that will be commonly performed as well things like "Ability to function in a collaborative environment", etc.

Skills Required: Precise descriptions of each skill and the level/years of experience that you're looking for.

Sell your company to the potential applicant: It helps to provide at least a general salary range in the post (assuming the one you're offering is competitive); There are alot of employers out there looking for an impressive level of skill and experience, but who are not offering commensurate pay. Heavily emphasize not only available benefits, but also the work environment, flexibility, convenience to transportation (a big plus in the Boston area) - anything to make the position attractive to quality candidates.


I was recently interviewed for positions roughly similar to that which you're looking to fill, one at a start-up and one at a large company with a very recognizable name, which I thought were very well conducted.

Both started with general questions like "What websites do you visit frequently and why?" or "What are examples of well designed websites and why?" established a point of reference. These could be tailored depending on the type of sites your company produces.

The next series of questions were in depth and aimed at specific knowledge of the required skill set; "What is the most significant cross-browser CSS issue?"; "What is quirks mode and how is it triggered in IE?"; "What CSS hacks have you used?" are a few examples.

Afterwards were questions aimed at determining breadth of experience and potential versatility: "Are you familiar with any scripting languages?"; "How do you analyze traffic?"; among others.

In General: The market for web design type jobs really seems to have picked up over the last year. I recently updated and made my resume viewable on monster and have been recruited heavily, though almost 100% for contract positions. That said, it's possible to earn a very good hourly rate for fairly routine HTML/CSS, Photoshop, and site update work. What is often missing is the sense of "ownership" of a project, challenge, and a sense of stability, so I'd say that those would be good selling points to attract candidates with a high level of professionalism.

P.S. Have you posted in the 'Commercial Exchange' forum here? I would say that a candidate who saw it here might be at least a little more qualified than the average bear.

[edited by: Edouard_H at 8:16 pm (utc) on Dec. 27, 2006]


 10:16 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your insights. At least it's nice to know others are sharing in my experience.

rocknbil: You are absolutely right. I could find a person well qualified for the job, but I might just not like their designs. I wouldn't necessarily let that stop me from hiring them though. They could always be bent to my will. ;)

jtara: I do believe that a true WEB designer does encompass those three things. The problem is that it seems a lot of educational institutions teaching web design do not agree with me. They teach them graphic or print design and then slap on a little Dreamweaver and Photoshop slicing. These web designs programs need to be updated.

Edouard_H: Very nice points. Thank you. The 'sell my company' part was definitely something I will look into. Something we are not doing now. And the benefits are definitely a big perk of the job. I didn't respond to this post because the company closes from Christmas to New Year's and I was away.

We do ask in the interview, "What are examples of well designed websites and why?" I thought this was a softball question. If your profession is the web you should be able to think of some well designed websites, especially corporate ones. But everyone we've interviewed has had major problems answering it. They all just freeze up. Some respond by saying they don't know the URLs offhand and others just say they don't know. I would also like to ask about things like usability studies and style guides but these candidates wouldn't know the first thing about them.

I'm hoping a new job posting will help bring in better candidates. But I have a new question for you guys. Would you limit the qualifications on your job posting to get a wider array of candidates? Or would you make the qualifications exactly what you want and chance that you may scare off better candidates? Because someone may not meet all of your qualifications, but might end up being someone you can mold. I tend to think that I should write my highest expectations for the job. I'd rather have the guy who has the gusto to apply for a job he may not be completely qualified for than one who I had to lower my expectations so that he could apply. Does that make any sense? What do you guys think?


 12:30 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I do believe that a true WEB designer does encompass those three things. The problem is that it seems a lot of educational institutions teaching web design do not agree with me. They teach them graphic or print design and then slap on a little Dreamweaver and Photoshop slicing. These web designs programs need to be updated.

I think these are two seperate issues.

For graphics and visual design, you really need somebody who has both artistic talent, apptitude, and interest (can't be taught), as well as training in specific technique and tools.

It's a bit dismaying to hear that web design isn't better integrated into today's graphic design education. Part of my first web-related job, 10 years ago, was to teach talented artists about web requirements. They were trained to produce for print, and of course their files were huge, didn't compress well. Oh, they loved thosed air-brush effects, AND nice, clean sharp defined edges. A freight train a rumblin', and little Nel tied-up to the tracks... Things certainly have changed since (there really isn't such an need for a "web safe palette" today, for example), but a lot of the same issues are still there, and so really needs to be part of any training in computer-created art or design.

But I don't think it's reasonable to expect the same person to also posses the analytical skills needs to deal with HTML, CSS, etc. It's on the other side of the brain, and it just frustrates the hell out of a lot of artistically-inclined indiviuduals. (If you want good artwork, probably the best test you can do is to make sure they can't balance their checkbook...)


 5:00 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would you limit the qualifications on your job posting to get a wider array of candidates? Or would you make the qualifications exactly what you want and chance that you may scare off better candidates?

Just my take on this, but you probably should be stringent with the core skill (html, css, photoshop) requirements. You could add a "Big Plus" or "Good To Have" section to expand what you're looking for. Experience like a variety of agency/contract work or any webmaster position would be useful to include - particularly the webmaster experience; Someone who has run an ecommerce or other working site will likely have a good deal of aptitude and versatility.


 12:56 am on Jan 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am a programmer/business manager and am in a similar situation. I can hack through ideas and know quality, but I can't come up with quality like a professional.

After getting tired of the various freelance services where freelancers submit their top 10% of their portfolio only to do a lousy job on my site, I searched for other options. I have recently held several design contests on various websites. I don't know if the TOS will let me post the site I have been using, so you can PM me if you are interested (I am not affiliated with the site).

These design contests allow you to write specs and have dozens of contestants submit their entries. You provide feedback to each entry and most contestants will tweak their entry to meet your requirements. For example, I have found uncoded Photoshop templates contests going for $250-$400.

Good Luck!

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