Unless you are using an out-of-the-box website creator, or a CMS template you find is perfect for your needs, you likely need a web designer. But there are a few things you need to consider.
Who Should Design Your Website?
The first thing to think about is, what type of site are you building? The type of site you are building should determine if you need a designer and what type of designer you need.
Out-of-the-box Site Creator
If you are using an out-of-the-box site creator, such as
then you do not normally need a designer unless you do not like the template or you feel, like I feel, that your design skills are so bad that you would prefer someone arrange your template for you.
If you do want a designer, you should look for someone who has previous experience helping people with these templates. The last thing you want is someone who is going to create a beautiful picture for you which cannot be realized in your template. So do not hire someone who has pretty work but has never used your platform to create anything.
The point of a CMS is to use the pre-existing templates. However, sometimes those templates don’t quite look quite right or sometimes you don’t even want to set up the template yourself.
If this is your situation you want a designer who is comfortable customizing templates. In this case, and this case alone, that person might actually be a coder/developer. Just like with the out-of-the-box scenario, the last thing you want is someone who is going to create a design from scratch which cannot be realized in your template.
Make sure you’ve selected or purchased your template first, OR hire a designer who has templates they use (for your CMS), and don’t just hire someone because their work looks pretty.
If you must build a custom site, you must make sure you hire a designer who can design for the web. Usually, the company you’ve hired to build your website will have both designers and developers on staff. Make sure that’s true before you hire them! If you are working with one person to developer your site, know that this one person likley cannot be relied on to design it first. Designers and coders are not the same! Just because a designer says he can code doesn’t mean he’s a good developer. And just because a coder says she’s got an eye for design doesn’t mean she can design. Do not hire one person to do both! Ever!