Finding the right partner sets your project up for success. If you’re looking to create on Webflow, here are some tips for finding expert help, clarifying your project goals, and managing your relationship.
Congratulations! You are about to start a project in Webflow and have decided you need some extra help. The Webflow Experts network is an amazing resource, but contacting Experts without first getting familiar with the platform and clarifying your own project goals will most likely frustrate you before the project has even begun. Before you rush off to hit send on the project submission form, I want to share a few tips on how you can find the right Expert to fit your project.
I’ve been leading the team at Edgar Allan and building projects in Webflow since 2015, working to empower our clients by building sites that will put authoring tools back in their hands. In the process, we’ve learned what you should (and shouldn’t) do in your search for an Expert to ensure that everyone is set up for a fulfilling collaboration.
7 steps to hiring the right Webflow Expert
1. Get familiar with Webflow
One of Webflow's main benefits is that it empowers everyday people to do more on the web. Even if you don’t come from a design or development background, the Webflow University tutorials are a great way to learn more about the possibilities and limitations of the platform. So, go ahead and (metaphorically) kick the tires. The production value is amazing, and the lessons are wildly informative.
After swimming a few laps through Webflow University, you might find that you don’t need to hire someone — or that you need less help than you originally thought. (Behold the wonders of no code!)
Regardless of whether you hire outside help or not, having a fundamental understanding of the platform will allow you to have more informed conversations about your project. And if you choose to work with an Expert, once they roll off the project, you will be better informed on how you can manage your own website. As Saturday TV used to tell us, “The more you know…”
2. Outline your goals, search parameters, and budget
Once you’re familiar with the platform, ask yourself a few questions to help frame up your request to an Expert. (And yeah, we know; these are often hard to address):
- What do I really need?
- How much do I have to spend? (Just ballpark it.)
- How should I approach the selection process? Handshake casual or formal and more controlled?
- Should I work with an agency or a freelancer?
Don’t worry about every little detail, but think all the way through what you want, expect, and how much you’re prepared to pay before starting your search for an Expert. Doing this work ahead of time will help you narrow down to the right candidates faster. We promise.
Here’s a couple examples:
- Say your goal is to get help building a site based off of an established design. You figure it might be simple enough for a freelancer to do it themselves. It will help to have the design ready to go and potentially also have a simple NDA for your new partner to sign.
- But if instead you need help on a full site redesign and re-platform, you might consider a larger team and using an established framework like a Request for Proposal (RFP).
The point: The search should fit the ask.
Thinking through what you’re looking for can also help you better understand what kind of budget is appropriate based on the scope of work. Something to note about Webflow overall: While the platform generally allows teams to work faster and more collaboratively, it’s not a panacea. In fact, sometimes the cost savings isn’t on the front end (during the initial build), but on the back end, in the ability for authors like you to make updates without needing further development help. So keep that in mind.
3. Decide whether you want to work with an agency or freelancer
Generally, freelancers work best when you can tightly define their role and tasks. Agencies, on the other hand, are able to work on a wider array of project deliverables at once.
To choose, look at a few key things:
- Project experience: Find an Expert who has delivered on a similar type of project or category. This will allow you to benefit from not only their Webflow expertise, but also their industry or category expertise.
- Project complexity: Take the build itself into consideration, as well as the project definition, customer experience design, integrations and subject matter. How complicated is the project? Does it seem like a one-person job, or something more suited to a team?
- Project liability: Larger and corporate clients often require more formalized project definition — things like buttoned-up master service agreements, statements of work, liability insurance, and formalized project management. A really high-quality freelancer may be able to provide some level of these things, but mostly, you’re only going to get this type of organizational rigor from an agency.
- Relationship management: How will you and the Expert work together? It’s important to pair up with someone who speaks your language in terms of communication style but also project management, organization, and delivery.
Overall, you might find a freelancer to be the less expensive option, and as a one-person team they can sometimes work a bit faster, but keep this in mind: It really depends on how well-defined the project is. If the work is a little hazy on the details (i.e. you will not have clearly outlined wireframes, designs, or content for them to work with), exploration time is money. Alternately, having one person try to tackle a massive assignment could mean a longer overall project duration and/or a higher cost.
4. Research your options and keep a list
Once you have started to define your project needs and where you need help, create a short list of possible Experts that fit the bill. Depending on your appetite for data analysis (we are a 10 out of 10 on that scale over here), here are two ways to think about that:
- Jot down a list: Write down a few freelancers or agencies who look interesting based on their profile and your project needs.
- Blow it out in a spreadsheet: If you like a more detailed view, list the names of who you want to talk with on the far left side of a spreadsheet, and then create columns for how you want to evaluate the candidates. This can be as detailed or as simple as you want, but the main idea is to have a comparison to use to narrow the field, and a few things identified to start the conversation with candidates.
When you’ve got a short list, start reaching out.
5. Reach out
Unfortunately for everyone involved, this is where a lot of people start.
They pick a few names and start emailing without knowing what they really need, if Webflow is the right solution, or much at all about who the right partner would be. But if you give at least some thought to the above steps, you are going to have a serious leg up on finding a great Expert to work with.
The most common request format is the RFP (Request for Proposal). I’ll be honest: the RFP process is full of all kinds of problems that we won’t go into here, but if it’s your typical mode of vetting and hiring, your best bet is to be thorough and give Experts the best information you can so they can give you the best answers they can.
The RFP format has a bunch of different flavors, but as someone on the receiving end of it, I’d recommend making sure you at least consider including:
- A short project summary: No more than two to three clear sentences.
- A brief company background
- A few core objectives: If there’s more than four or so, and you should probably narrow down.
- Project scope and delivery: What you will supply and what you will expect.
- Sitemap / expected page count: This is optional, but it really helps to consider content needs up front.
- Timeline and milestones: What is your timing? Will this be a big-bang launch [all at once] or a staggered delivery?
- Functional / technical requirements: What other integrations, processes or workflows should be considered?
- Budget: What is the range of the investment you’re willing to make?
- Criteria for selection: No more than three or four bullet points about what will make for a great working relationship.
Even if you don’t plan on sending out an RFP, it’s helpful to consider defining these points for yourself so that you can have a more informed conversation with your favorite Experts.
6. Get the conversation going
You have two options for starting the conversation with Experts: Email a few individually, or send one email to everyone in the program.
A mass email could be helpful for smaller projects with a quicker turnaround (lots of bang for your request buck). But, because these requests go out to everyone, some people figure they’re a hassle and choose to not respond to mass project requests on principle. The trade-off: You might miss a great match.
An individual email can be the best tactic for projects where you are looking for a specific solution. The tradeoff here is that it will require more effort on your side to create and narrow your list of favorites. (See steps two through five above.)
Regardless, in the initial email, you should probably keep your message to one or two paragraphs. Include a short introduction about yourself, your company, the project, your budget and general timing. Once someone responds, send the RFP or project brief and start your evaluation process.
Don’t want to do an RFP? An alternative could be to send out a sample paid project to vet them. Just remember it has to be paid. Even if it’s “just a few hours” never, ever ask for free work. Remember, the evaluation process works both ways.
7. Start off right
Once you’ve chosen an Expert, you can move on to the project itself — but not before tying up loose ends. While ghosting might be an OK way to leave a party, it’s not a great way to leave a conversation with people you have been talking with about a project. At the very least, send an email and let the freelancers or agencies you didn’t select know you have made a choice. If you can include some notes on what helped you decide, bonus points and kudos to you. You’ve just upped your hiring karma.
Getting to work
Once you’ve selected a Webflow Expert, you get to move onto the most exciting part — the project itself.
Why do all of this work just to find some help? The goal is to do great work — not just find “someone.” It’s a little played out, but true: You define the success of your project.
Webflow is a powerful tool and the Webflow Experts network is an amazing resource, but without a clearly defined sense of what success is, you could spend time and money running around until you find it. Go check out the Webflow Expert site today.
In summary: do’s and don’ts for finding the right Webflow Expert
Do learn a bit about Webflow. Understanding the basics will allow you to have a better conversation and will make you more comfortable taking over the build after your expert rolls off the project.
Do outline your goal and general budget. This gives you a starting point to work backwards from and can help you to collaborate with your expert on what to launch now and what to save for later.
Do define your working style and strengths. Consider what type of expert will complement your team and core knowledge base.
Do be a good partner from the beginning of the conversation. Invest time in your own project definition.
Don't ask for free work. Doesn’t matter if it’s blatant or if it sounds like, “Can you evaluate my website and tell us how you would make it better,” or “Could you just put a few designs together?” Just don’t.
Don't set unrealistic expectations with what you expect in the response, budget, kick-off or delivery date.
Don't ghost someone during the process or after selection. If they weren’t a good fit, that doesn’t mean there might not be an opportunity in the future.