Despite WordPress’ plethora of customization options, you’re not guaranteed a professional-looking site out of the box. In fact, without solid design skills, you could end up creating a site that erodes trust and conversions.
For this reason, a dedicated WordPress designer should be a key part of your team. They will have the know-how to create a layout that’s well-optimized for conversions and looks appealing to visitors – without introducing any problematic elements.
In this article, we’ll talk more about what a WordPress designer is, and explain what you need to consider when looking for one to work with. Let’s jump right in!
What Is a WordPress Designer?
In a nutshell, a WordPress designer is the person who makes your website look stunning. They play a crucial role when your site is being built, as visuals are important in determining whether or not a visitor converts.
An experienced designer will usually have expert-level knowledge in a number of key areas, such as typography, color theory, placement, media usage, and more. You’ll also find that WordPress designers come in various guises.
For example, there are a lot of solo freelancers, but you may also find designers who are part of an agency, or who work alongside developers.
Designer vs. Developer – Which Do You Need?
As we mentioned, a designer is solely concerned with your site’s front-end visuals. In contrast, a developer is responsible for making sure its code is strong, stable, and secure.
You may sometimes find that the two roles overlap, as ‘T-shaped skills’ are becoming more prevalent. It’s not rare to find a front-end developer with the expertise to also create a highly-converting and accessible design.
For the most part, however, you’ll want to hire both a designer and a developer. The developer will handle the back-end structure of your site, while the designer will take that raw ‘wireframe’ and make it shine.
When You Need a WordPress Designer
To decide whether you actually need a designer, you’ll first want to consider the elements and features you want to include on your site. You may be able to find solutions that offer much of what you need among the thousands of themes and plugins on WordPress.org, or in premium marketplaces such as Envato.
However, if you can’t find the features or layouts you want, a designer is likely to be vital. You may even have found a theme or plugin that’s 80–90% perfect, but would benefit from some further tweaks. A designer can help make your site truly unique, and customize its look and features until they’re just right.
What to Look For in a WordPress Designer
If you do decide on hiring a designer, there are a few criteria to keep in mind. For starters, a candidate’s portfolio should be able to tell you whether their style would be a good fit for your website. For example, if you’re looking for something minimalist, but the portfolio you’re viewing features mainly ornate designs, you may want to look elsewhere.
At the very minimum, you’ll also need a WordPress designer who’s well-versed in the following:
- The latest WordPress trends and coding practices, such as parallax design, Gutenberg, and so on.
- Communication, especially when it comes to understanding your desires and receiving feedback.
- Discipline, specifically relating to budget. After all, if they constantly overspend, there won’t be enough left to actually finish the project.
Of course, it also goes without saying that the designer you choose needs to specialize in WordPress, and have the relevant industry knowledge and experience to implement your requests.
Giving the WordPress Designer What They Need
If you want to get the best results, you’ll also need to give the designer everything they need to actually complete the job. Again, communication is a top priority here. You’ll want the opportunity to discuss the timeframe of the project, your budget, your overall goals, and any other element that will determine your site’s success.
In other words, you’ll need to account for a period before your project starts, where all these details can be hashed out. That way, you won’t be splurging money on a designer who’s unsuited to your needs. After this phase is over, you’ll need let go of the reins and let your new hire get on with the task of designing your site.
Finding a WordPress Designer
When it comes to actually finding a suitable WordPress designer, there’s a lot of choice. In our opinion, there are two places you’ll want to start:
- A marketplace such as Upwork. You’ll find many freelance WordPress designers here, all with differing skill levels and prices. Given the variety on offer, you may need to try one or two designers before you settle on ‘the one’.
- Through ‘recommended partners’. Some WordPress business have a list of recommended experts who can help you with all aspects of your site, including design. WP Engine has two comprehensive lists you can peruse to find the perfect fit.
Even with diligent planning, of course, you may still come across a bad fit for your requirements. Let’s talk about how to sidestep a poor choice of designer.
Pitfalls of Hiring a WordPress Designer
In all honesty, if you’ve followed our advice so far, you’ll find that your shortlist is full of quality designers who will all be suitable for your project in some capacity.
However, there’s still one more red flag you need to watch out for. While a coding background isn’t strictly necessary, its lack will usually hamper a designer’s ability to provide a complete solution. What’s more, if they are able to understand the work your developer has done, the designer will have more insight into your overall vision and strategy.
All other things being equal, therefore, it’s better to steer clear of designers with no discernible coding experience.
Tools to Help When Hiring a WordPress Designer
Of course, designing your site is a team effort. To that end, you can (and should!) help your designer by providing a select batch of tools.
For example, a work management solution like Wrike enables you to collaborate via the cloud and manage your project smoothly. In a similar vein, Asana is a popular tool that helps you simplify your entire project workflow.
Finally, an organizational solution such as Trello is ideal for ticking off outstanding tasks, and understanding what stage your site is currently at. While Asana or Wrike can also do this, Trello is free to use, and is an excellent tool for smaller projects.
How WP Engine Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your Designer
Regardless of your site’s overall design, all that work will be for naught if you have a poor web host running your site. That’s where WP Engine comes into the picture.
Getting the most out of your designer will be a breeze with WP Engine’s staging and user access controls. What’s more, our Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is tailor-made for WordPress designers to create long-lasting solutions easily. To find out more, contact us today!