Hiring a website designer for your dog trainer business

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I'm a website designer who adores creating websites for dog trainers and dog behaviourists.
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Female dog trainer talking to a website designer about her dog trainer website

How to pick the perfect website designer for your dog trainer website (and red flags to avoid)

Work out your approximate budget first 

Heads up – a realistic price you will pay for a designer to build your website can be anything from £1000 – £5000 depending on your needs. If you are new and don’t have an established website, £3000 is a reasonable price approximately to pay. I suggest you research designers online and make a note of their prices, so you know what to expect. 

Related post: How much does a dog trainer website cost?

Also take a note of whether they have payment plans as this can be a way of spreading your cost. (Also, I’m not a tax expert, so no advice here, but you can offset the cost of your website against tax, which is another win!) 

Do you like their designs? 

While you’re doing your research, remember to check out the designer’s portfolio or examples of mock-ups on their website. This will give you a good idea of their design style and whether you like it or not. 

Try and come up with a short list of around 5 designers with the aim of chatting to 3, so you can make an informed decision. 

Talk to more than one designer 

As I said above, I think it’s so important to do this. You need to be able to dig into what the designer is like personally. Will you work well together? Are they open and do they explain clearly what they offer, without boring you with jargon? 

Will they invite you to a discovery call or consult call, where they ask you all about the project? Remember this is potentially the biggest investment you’ve made in your business aside from your initial training. 

Ask loads of questions as they pop into your mind 

Don’t be afraid at any point in the process of finding a designer, to ask them questions as they arise. No good designer will be too busy or annoyed at answering these questions, as they realise it’s such a big investment for you. 

Some designers will send you a link to an FAQ document so check this out first, as it will probably answer a lot of questions you have, and then you can avoid wasting the designer’s time. 

Lay everything out in front of you after the calls, and if something is not clear – for example if there is a part of a design package you don’t quite understand, ask them to break it down for you. (I usually use a video to explain parts of my package and people find it really helpful, so you could ask them for a quick voice note or explainer video) 

Do they have a contract? 

This is such an important part of the process as it protects you and the designer. During the call, they will probably have explained their process. If they haven’t mentioned a contract, ask them if they will be sending one if you sign up to a project. If they don’t use contracts, don’t hire them as you will not be protected if the service is not what you expected.

Do you think they would understand your vision? 

Female dog trainer working with a large brown dog

Okay so you’ve reviewed the designers who ticked all the boxes above. Fab. Now I believe it goes a bit deeper. 

I want you to ask yourself this question. 

Out of the designers you have narrowed down, who is most likely to understand your vision and delight you by bringing it to life? 

Who can convey your passion for helping dogs and their owners live in harmony with each other? 

There’s nothing more satisfying for me than seeing a client fill up because their website is like the vision they’ve been carrying for so long in their head. 

Now we’ve discussed what to do in terms of the process and the key questions to ask yourself, let’s have a look at some red flags to avoid when hiring a website designer. 

Red flags to look for when hiring a website designer 

Here are the main things to look for and I hope these help you pick a fabulous designer who works with integrity. 

Their contact form doesn’t work correctly 

While we all acknowledge that people aren’t perfect, a designer’s website should be another example of their work, so their contact form should work correctly.

It may be a slightly different format, where you are invited to fill in a short booking inquiry form, but this also should function.

Pro-tip – It shouldn’t be difficult to get in touch with the designer – if it is, then I suggest this is a red flag. 

Helen Nuttall website designer for dog trainers' contact page

No clear consultation call process 

I’ve known of designers who don’t offer a free consultation call or discovery call as part of their process for potential clients. But I firmly believe that these calls are crucial for both parties to get a feel for whether they are a good fit to work together. 

I believe that you should expect to meet a designer and have them understand what you need very clearly, before you hand over your hard earned cash to work together. It’s respect and courtesy in my opinion, and a chance for either party to say that they don’t feel it would be right to work together. 

Or on the other hand, for you to get excited because you feel this person gets you and your business. 

Not sharing pricing freely 

Some designers don’t list their pricing on their website. If this is the case, shoot them a quick email and ask them to send you an idea of price. They should do this without pressuring you to have a consultation call first. 

If they won’t share before the consultation call, this is a red flag, as it could waste your time if they are out of your budget range. 

They don’t offer you training on how to edit your website before they hand it over to you 

Some designers, particularly the ones you can hire for cheaper on sites like Fiverr, will not have this included in their price. I think it’s a red flag as it’s putting you and your business at a huge disadvantage and making you reliant on the designer every time you need to edit things in the future. Potentially, you will be spending more money over the long term, even though the initial cost was lower. 

A great designer may cost more, but will spend time with you, teaching you how to edit parts of your website and then deliver those training videos, so you can use them any time you need to. 

Not prepared to listen 

On the consultation call, this should become really clear if the designer doesn’t listen to your ideas for your dog training website, and suggests a completely different plan. 

What should happen is that they ask questions about your goals and the look you want to achieve, and note down your responses so that they can use this information to suggest options not dictate a path. 

Some designers may record the session so they can review the information later and also if you choose to hire them. They should always ask your permission before they do this so you can decide whether this is okay or not. 

Poor at communicating 

Another red flag is if the designer doesn’t respond to your messages in an acceptable time frame. This can be a precursor to them not hitting deadline dates. 

Not interested in user experience 

Website designers desk showing designs considering user experience

User experience on your website is important because we want dog owners to book you and not just read the information and go somewhere else. 

My suggestion would be to ask the designer how they consider user experience when designing dog training websites. 

They also should ask you about your website goals because this will help you get the user experience right on your website. 

Wanting to sell you hosting on their servers

If the designer is offering WordPress websites, one of the things they may include is hosting services. This is where the website is located online so that it is visible. But I suggest insisting on them using hosting that isn’t on their servers.

Why? 

It avoids them having control over the uptime of your website. If you have your own personal hosting, you can get access to help easily via the host, and you don’t need to rely on monthly maintenance plans that tie you into an agency or designer.

 If you are going with WordPress, my recommendation would be WP Engine, as their customer service is brilliant and so fast. 

Too cheap 

Finally, I would beware of any designer who is offering you a website for less than £1000. I would avoid sites like Upwork or Fiverr. Tempting as it may seem, people have ended up with sites that don’t look the way they want them too. 

The problem with cheap prices like this is that the designer doesn’t make enough money to pay their bills, so they have to do a lot of them to make enough of a living. 

So they may use a template, not ask for edits or feedback, not be available to chat or simply create a website that can’t scale with you or your business. 

Some people have come to me after having this kind of experience and I’ve heard of a few others who started again because the websites weren’t the quality they were looking for. 

(Obviously, there are always exceptions to this 🙂)

In conclusion 

Having a website created for you is a big investment for your dog training business. There’s no doubt about that. My suggestion would be to take your time, figure out your budget, and speak to a few designers before deciding who to work with. 

Remember you are in the driving seat and no great designer will ever pressure you into a decision. Go with someone who’s designs excite you, you have a great gut feeling about and most importantly, you feel could understand your business and values. 

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