Hire Only Web Designers With a Website

Published on March 6, 2007 (↻ February 5, 2024), filed under and (RSS feed for all categories).

This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development.

…is a good rule of thumb when you need a web designer or developer.

Though it’s not necessarily the most important criterion, the benefits are obvious. Web designers who also own websites are more likely to be close to the medium, to possess enthusiasm, and to have experience around all the other issues and challenges that websites bring with. They’ll more likely have a basic understanding of processes, of customer and business needs, and of what makes a website more successful since website maintenance is exactly about that.

Focus on the “more likely” since this must not always be the case. However, it should be suspicious when a so-called professional web designer or developer rings and can only tell you that they designed parts of “foo” and created the former interface of “bar”. An own website can—should—help a lot. This is meant to be encouraging, not frightening, as human resources managers should also keep in mind that web design is a process. Personal websites must not be treated as professional services, and some decorative effects are surely okay.

By the way, the entire issue somehow reminds me of 37signals’ Getting Real and the “Race to Running Software”:

With real, running software everyone gets closer to true understanding and agreement. You avoid heated arguments over sketches and paragraphs that wind up turning out not to matter anyway. You realize that parts you thought were trivial are actually quite crucial.

This applies to web design and web development as well. Go out and create a basic website with some basic content. To the potential bosses and customers, please appreciate employees and partners who do their own stuff online. They are serious. They are professionals.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!

Comments (Closed)

  1. On March 6, 2007, 21:49 CET, Achtentachtig said:

    The reason why a lot of designers out their don’t have portfolio websites is because the most difficult client is yourself. Most designers are never satisfied once they finally started to design their own website. And probably most have them have a lot photoshop files with little starts, but none of them actually end up on the web.

  2. On March 7, 2007, 0:50 CET, Andrew said:

    Although I agree that designing your own site is that hardest, it is also the one with most freedom to compromise in order to just get it done.

    I forget who said it, but someone once stated that “Perfect is the enemy of good enough”. A designer that always strives for perfection at the expense of deadlines, self imposed or otherwise, is destined to fail and is probably not the best person to employ / contract.

  3. On March 7, 2007, 10:29 CET, Jens Oliver Meiert said:

    That is exactly why I commend that web professionals should have a website—they will learn from it. It also seems advantageous when a designer notices this perfection problem (or the cost of perfection) on their website rather than a client’s.

  4. On March 8, 2007, 8:00 CET, Darryl Butler said:

    I think that having your own website also has the potential to create an understanding between designer/developer and the client/author with regards to content creation and delivery.

    Since the life-cycle of a website is always in process there are often rewrites and rethinks. Having experienced this myself I am more sympathetic toward my clients when they drag the chain delivering content.

  5. On March 8, 2007, 20:14 CET, notMe said:

    The qoute is actually, “Good is the enemy of Great.” - Good to Great by Jim Collins

    I am totally in synch with those who feel that they are their own worst client. I’ve had my domain name now for at least three years and i don’t currently have a site up.

    I keep putting it off thinking that once i learn some new skills i’ll get to it, but as i learn new things i realize just how much more i want to learn.

    A designer’s site should be made up of all current skills, but at some point we all need to bite the bullet and just get something up. It should be the best you can do at the time and then just update as you go.

    To that end I have started to build my site and will get it live as soon as I learn one more thing…=}

  6. On March 12, 2007, 23:20 CET, Peter Vigren said:

    I’ve had my domain name now for at least three years and i don’t currently have a site up.

    Oh my God! Another me! 😊 I think I bought my domain, oh was it in august 2005? At the time I planned a little for my website but it was put on hold. I began planning again last summer. Not a site up even now (oh how many of my own deadlines I have missed!) but I am trying almost desperately to create one now. I have, as said, to let go a little of the whole “must be perfect”-thing. First, the website was to, at the launch, have several sections and plenty of information. Bit by bit have been removed and now my ambition is to fix all essential things needed to create a diary and a information page about me. But for me, those essential things involve URL-style, diary and general site navigation, semantic layout and feed support. Heh. Well, I have at least gotten on the road. 😊

  7. On April 10, 2007, 23:30 CEST, Matt said:

    I did the default install of wordpress on my domain, barely even blog… but some of the sites I developed have been on screenalicious and csscollection. An architects house is never finished.

  8. On May 3, 2007, 19:01 CEST, Maui said:

    For a web designer, a well designed web site is a great way of instilling confidence and looking bigger than you actually are. In today’s market, customers will automatically assume that you already have a website and if you don’t you might leave them asking why. By now, your primary competitors probably already have a web presence on the Internet as well. Having a website as web site designer is key to presenting a professional image to your clients. Aloha from Maui, HI.

  9. On July 8, 2007, 23:01 CEST, çeviri said:

    I forget who said it, but someone once stated that “Perfect is the enemy of good enough”. A designer that always strives for perfection at the expense of deadlines, self imposed or otherwise, is destined to fail and is probably not the best person to employ / contract.

  10. On August 20, 2007, 19:41 CEST, John said:

    A website designer without a website is the ultimate red flag. Furthermore, the designer’s site should be good… very good. It should be better than the site you are looking to develop for yourself.

    If you are developing a specialty site such as an ecommerce site, be sure that the designer has experience building MULTIPLE such sites. Ecommerce development is not as easy as a novice designer would lead you to believe.

    Thanks Jens!

  11. On August 24, 2007, 21:40 CEST, FF said:

    It seems that people who are closer to their work on different levels are more likely to be more passionate about it. I do not know about the net, but I do know this is how it works in the arts. People that work on different mediums that tie together are more likely to have more passion with their work and tend to make the best of what they have. I look at the directors that are also the writers of their films. Sure, there are some out there that do not make the best of this, but even they put all they have into their work and make it the best that they can. I believe this is an example that everyone should be able to look at and put into their own lives. If we all did this, then the world I think would be a better place.

  12. On September 11, 2007, 12:22 CEST, PK said:

    I agree. Web designers who do not have their portfolio online or any ready sample output online should be treated with doubt. But if you’re skeptical enough try them out because who knows they may be the ones we call as silent worker. This should be done when dealing with companies that sell services of graphic designers. I’m referring to webmaster staffing companies.

    Actually, this rule of looking for live web sites doesn’t only apply to web designers. This applies to all – wedding planner, affiliate manager, and the likes.