7 Things to Consider Before Hiring Someone to Build You a Squarespace Website
I read a Facebook post from another designer today talking about her frustration with other people in the creative industry with less experience and education, marketing themselves as professionals. The post picked up a lot of traction.
Some commenters agreed with her and felt that their experience, education and skill-level were not receiving the value they deserved because of these inexperienced designers saturating the market.
Some commenters felt she was being unfair to beginners - everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right?
Some argued that she is operating in a lack mindset and that really, there is enough work to go around and that there are different markets for different skill levels.
And some told stories of when they were duped by people claiming that their experience level was much higher than it actually was and how it negatively impacted their business.
This thread really got me thinking. As someone who’s new to this industry and line of work, I can empathize with the “fake it ‘til you make it” mindset. That being said, I can also sympathize with the original posters’ concern of other designers being ingenuine and/or dishonest about their skill level. I feel bad for the people who hired a designer and had a terrible experience because the designer misrepresented their skill level.
So in an effort of transparency, I decided to write about my own skill level and path to Squarespace web design, as well as outline 7 things you should consider when hiring a web designer.
How did I get into Squarespace web design?
One day, while getting a pedicure with my friend (who happens to be a graphic designer), I started talking about how I wanted a career that paid well and that I could do from home so I could have a flexible schedule and be available for my kids. She said, “You should look into coding.” I had NO idea what coding even was, but I trusted my friend and thought, “Okay, I’ll look into it.”
THE CODING PUZZLE
I got home and went to work figuring out what “coding” meant. Intrigued, I spent the next few months taking as many free coding classes as I could get my hands on and learning everything I could from my fellow design friends. Still, I felt completely lost and clueless. I’ve heard the analogy that learning to code can be like shining a flashlight in the dark - you only see a tiny piece at a time - and it doesn’t make much sense until you see all those pieces together. That’s definitely how it felt for me! So, I finally invested and enrolled into an inclusive coding and web design program from “Skillcrush.” Finally, it felt like someone turned the light on for me! Things began to make sense!
As I continued to learn how to use code to build completely custom websites from scratch, I came across Squarespace. Squarespace is a website building platform that doesn’t require coding to build a website. It’s a great option for people without coding skills, who want to DIY their website. It’s also a great option for some web designers to use for some client websites. The backend of the site is easy to use and intuitive, so it’s a good fit for clients who don’t want to pay a developer to make updates or changes to their website. Plus, it takes much less time to put together a Squarespace website than it does to code up a completely custom website from scratch, making it a much more affordable option. Less time = less money.
As the daughter of a small business owner, I knew that other entrepreneurs/small business owners like my dad, would not be able to afford and/or wouldn’t want to invest in a completely custom website, nor would they enjoy paying a developer regularly to make updates and changes. Squarespace makes it is easy to make changes to your website without any coding knowledge, it does the software updates for you and is cost-economical.
The more I learned about and played around with Squarespace, the more I loved it! I know a lot of web designers prefer completely custom sites or Wordpress or Showit since they provide a lot more design flexibility, but I knew that Squarespace - with it’s user-friendly backend - would be a great fit for the people I wanted to work with.
I spent a lot of time on the Internet teaching myself how to use and build on Squarespace, and I couple that self-taught knowledge with the UI/UX (User-Interface / User-Experience) skills I gained in my Skillcrush courses to help me build user-friendly, client-friendly websites.
Last year, my husband was laid off and decided to take the LSAT to try and get into law school. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to work the first year of school, and I wanted to be able to help provide for us financially during that time. Therefore, I decided to take a leap of faith and start this business offering my Squarespace web design services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. I knew I wouldn’t be able to serve everyone’s needs (ie. I’m still not comfortable taking on big development projects where I completely code up a site from scratch), but I knew that there are definitely people out there that I could serve with my skill level and experience.
Why would someone hire you when they could just DIY?
This is a great question! It really comes down to time, skill and experience. Anyone who’s DIY’d a site on Squarespace can tell you, that there is definitely a learning curve to figuring out how to use the platform. They may head down the rabbit hole of Internet research trying to figure it all out, and might feel frustrated when all that work doesn’t quite look how they hoped it would. Maybe it looks too “homemade” (and not in a good way) or maybe they couldn’t get it to do what they wanted. And if they’re not interested in web-design, it might be a boring way to spend their precious time.
If you have the time and the desire to figure it out and build your own website, by all means do it! I believe in you! For brand-new businesses, sometimes this is the best option to get started. However, some people don’t want to invest the time into learning these skills or DIY’ing a site, or maybe they tried and it just didn’t come out right. Or maybe your business outgrew your DIY site and it’s time for a change. In those cases, you may consider hiring someone with more experience to build it for you.
ADVANTAGES TO HIRING A SQUARESPACE DESIGNER
As a Squarespace web-designer, I’ve invested time in learning the ins-and-outs of Squarespace. I’ve built several websites on the platform and one of the best teachers is experience - in doing a task over and over you learn how to do it more effectively. As a Squarespace Circle member, I stay involved in the community and informed on new Squarespace features. I invest in special software and tools to help me design and better serve my clients. I’ve invested in education to learn how to build user-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing websites. Obviously, design is subjective and not everyone will like my style, but I’ve taken courses to learn color theory and UX/UI design principles to help me build more effective websites. And I continue to advance my skills and learn more everyday.
7 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE HIRING SOMEONE TO BUILD YOU A SQUARESPACE WEBSITE
1) IS SQUARESPACE A GOOD FIT FOR ME?
Squarespace is a good fit for you if…
You value ease-of-use
You value great customer support (they have chats, webinars, guides, forums, etc)
You don’t want to invest in a completely custom website from a bigger design firm (these websites often cost $10,000+)
You aren’t a tech-whiz, but prefer to save time and money by making your own site updates rather than hire a developer or IT team
You prefer an inclusive service - you can have your blog, website, and shop all through Squarespace
You value convenience - you can pay for your domain, hosting and professional email all through Squarespace
You want built-in site analytics and SEO
You want a mobile-responsive website
You want easy integrations with online booking, professional email, photo galleries, embedded videos, social media and e-marketing (Check out all of Squarespace’s integrations here.)
You’re not looking to sell more than 200 products in an online store (Squarespace is great for a small E-Commerce shop, but I wouldn’t recommend it for larger shops)
If you decide Squarespace is a good fit for you, make sure the designer you choose is familiar with building sites on Squarespace.
2) WHAT IS MY BUDGET?
Most Squarespace designers charge anywhere from $1500 - $10,000 for a multi-page site. Can you find someone that fits your budget? Sometimes Etsy has Squarespace design listings that are very affordable. If you can’t find an option that fits your budget, consider starting small - single page sites are more affordable than multi-page sites. Or, you may decide that DIY is best for you. If DIY overwhelms you, some designers offer templates you can buy that include step-by-step tutorials to get it set up. (In fact, I’m actually working on template options now, so stay tuned…)
3) WHAT KIND OF A WEBSITE DO I WANT/NEED?
Make a list of the things you want your website to do/have. Do you want a blog? An ecommerce store? Opt-ins? Bilingual capabilities? Etc. When searching for a web designer, ask if they can provide the functions you need from your website. It’s also a good idea to consider the pages you want your website to have (do you need an About page? Services Page? Blog? Home page? etc.). Does the designer offer a package that could include all of those pages? If not, how much does it cost to add pages? Does that still fit your budget?
4) WHEN DO YOU WANT TO LAUNCH YOUR WEBSITE?
Most Squarespace designers I know take 2-8 weeks to build out a site (not including the time it takes you to gather your copy and photos). Many designers are booked out months in advance. When searching for a web designer, ask them about their availability? When is their next available design slot? Ask how long it will take for them to build out your site. Does that fit your timeline? Make sure to give yourself enough time to collect your content (copy and photos) before the design start date and make sure that the designer is available to complete your website by your desired launch date.
5) DO YOU LIKE THEIR PORTFOLIO?
When trying to chose a web designer, look at their portfolio. Do you like the style of their past work? Is their style a good fit for your brand and target market? Design is such a subjective thing, so you want to make sure you love the design aesthetic of the designer you hire. Looking through their portfolio is a great place to start!
6) WHAT EXPERIENCE DO THEY HAVE?
Consider the experience level of the designer. How long have they been building websites? How many websites have they built? You will find good web designers at all levels of experience. You’ll come across some beginners that build beautiful sites with smooth client processes and you’ll find seasoned designers that build ugly sites with messy client processes and vice-a-versa. Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, but I still think it’s helpful to consider when choosing a web designer. Sometimes a beginner is the perfect fit for your project, but sometimes you may need a more experienced designer on board.
7) WHAT IS THEIR PROCESS?
Whether your designer is a novice or an expert, a smooth process will definitely make your life easier. Ask the designer about their client process. Does it seem organized and predictable? Do they even have a process laid out? What kind of tech support do they provide once they’ve finished the web design? Do they require site maintenance or retainer fees post-design (not common with Squarespace sites)? Do they provide training or tutorials so you can confidently make site updates moving forward? Some designers (myself included) like to use some custom code to elevate the site design. Ask the designer if they use a lot of custom code in their designs? If code intimidates you, ask the designer to keep it light on custom-coding or at least teach you what you need to know about the custom code your website uses.
Choosing a web designer…
As you consider hiring a web designer, I hope you’ll consider these 7 things. I hope you find someone you can trust to build you the website of your dreams-someone that is genuine and honest about their skills, someone that will provide real value to your business.