7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Designer to Redesign Your Blog
By: Sean Hodge
On: December 30th, 2007
Did you get your blog started with a free template? Have you visited other blogs in your niche and said, "Wow, that looks just like my blog." There is nothing wrong with using free templates. There are some advantages to starting your blog with a free template. Namely, you get off the ground quickly and cheaply. Though the disadvantages of not having a professional design and brand image for your blog from its outset grow as time goes on.
The more successful your blog is the more you will wish you had invested some resources in your blog's brand in the beginning. Now that your blog has had a modicum of success you could invest some of the earning you've made back into the branding of your blog and really stand out with a professional look and identity in your marketplace. A good design with good branding will help to make you memorable to your audience in your niche. A good design makes it easier to gain new subscribers as well. Because people visiting your site for the first time can feel the blog in its design before even reading a word.
This idea of capturing the feeling of the blog is essential. Its more difficult when the blog is being redesigned than when designing a blog from the beginning. The part that is more difficult is in the capturing of the blog's writing voice, niche, and style visually. When a blog is just getting started out the design and writing can grow together. You also risk alienating your existing audience with a redesign. So, you have to choose a designer for your redesign carefully.
There are lots of good reasons to get a good design from the beginning of your blog. If your starting a new blog I recommend that you have confidence that you will make a return on this initial investment. Though if this didn't happen in the beginning not to worry. To follow are some tips for selecting the right designer to bring that professional brand and blog template design to your moderately successful blog and help turn it into a highly successful blog.
1. The Designer's Portfolio
The reason this is so high on the list is that design is a visual medium. The quickest way to access the skill of a designer is to view their online portfolio. Time is money and the time you invest in this process needs to be taken into consideration. If you can afford a good designer than only consider working with designer's who's portfolio feels like a good fit for your blog.
Following are the types of questions you should ask yourself when choosing a designer. Has the designer created Blog's before? If so have they created a blog in your market? Do you like the style of this designer? Does the designer's style of design fit with your successful vision of your blog?
Seriously consider choosing a designer that has already made successful designs you like. Though professional designers often have a range of styles they can work in, its a safer course of action to choose a designer who's existing portfolio fits the results you are looking for.
2. The Designer's Process and Professionalism
A Designer's process can be as important as their final results of past projects. Are they professional? Are they organized? It can be difficult to assess these immediately. The level of professionalism of their website is a good indicator. Do they have any articles about their process on their website? Do you like the writing on their website? Does their website come off as professional? The way that they communicate with you is also a large degree of what will access their level of professionalism.
Some questions to keep in mind after you start to communicate with the designer. Do their emails feel professional? Do they help lead you and educate you through the design process? Do they discuss deadlines, cost, and scope of work up front? Are references of past clients available? Do they appear experienced in the design and blogging field? Are they available by phone or instant massaging if need be?
3. Choose a Designer that Understands Your Blog
Ideally, this designer would already be subscribed to your blog. An individual that has read your writing and subscribed to your feed is likely a fan. So, they are likely to care allot about the success of the redesign. Though be very wary of sacrificing other areas to work with a fan.
In capturing the feeling of your blog it helps that they already have exposure to your writing style and the community that has evolved around your blog. In fact they have a vested interest in your blog's community. They are likely to have some ideas about creating your blog's redesign that are an insiders perspective, which is often difficult to find.
You may also be able to work out some kind of trade of services or other deal more easily with a fan of your work. This could save you some funds. Though remember your not limited to this group of readers and that a professional designer could certainly do an excellent job with redesigning your blog.
4. Their Technical Abilities Need to Be Above the Needs of the Job
This is a blog they are redesiging. That involves more than a photoshop template. Unless you know how to cut up the design and integrate it into your Content Management System yourself. Do they know html and cascading style sheets? Are they familiar with the system you've built your blog in? Or if you are switching system's, are they familiar with both systems? Do they know at least the fundamentals of the programming language your blog's Content Management System is written in? Can they demonstrate their abilites with these technologies if asked to do so? For example, they might send you a template they have coded for review. If you don't understand the template that's ok. Just their willingness to show you proves their confidence in their abilities.
5. A Designer's Blog is Important to Evaluate
Much like portfolios a designer's blog can be an indicator of how good they are at blog design. A designer that has a blog, especially a professional blog, has put in the time to truly understand what blogging is all about. Its not just another website its a blog. And developing a blog community, while having some parallels with other website communities, is a different medium, and has its own unique idiosyncrasies to understand. A designer involved with blogging will be a greater resource than a designer that hasn't blogged or only recently got into blogging. If you like the style and professionalism of a couple of designer's you could look to this forth area as a deal breaker. The areas below can be looked at as ways to differentiate some final candidates as well.
6. Look at Other Services They Offer
Your spending time and money building a relationship here. It is worthwhile to consider what other resources this individual could serve in helping your blog to grow. Are they an adept programmer well versed in the languages your blog's Content Management System is written in. There is a big difference between a designer's cursory knowledge of a programming language and a programmer's depth and abilities to write symphonies with it. If this designer is also an excellent writer or search engine optimization specialist well that means they have some other expertise that you could utilize to help grow your blog.
7. Your Budget
Clearly you need to be able to afford the designer. If their price range is not within the scope of your budget then you won't be able to use them. Though your concept of your budget should be put in the perspective of risk and reward. A designer that meets all 6 points above will likely cost much more than a designer that only meets two. That's because they have a proven track record of success and can clearly demonstrate the results you will get for your money.
Its up to you to decide which of the above points are most important to you and how they fit within the scope of your budget. Just keep in mind that the less a designer can demonstrate with past success the more risk you, as the blog business owner, are taking on in the redesign process of your blog.
The Narrowed Down List
Hopefully, this list has narrowed down the field of potential designer's you are evaluating. And you'll have some tools for evaluating their quotes within the scope of professionalism, your budget, and the results you are looking for. Any questions you have about these suggestions let me know below.