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If I get the web-design done by someone else, how can I ensure he is not simply passing me some recycled work or blatantly copying/pasting somebody's (or his own) work?

There really is no way to make sure, right?

So how can I ask a web-designer from one of those freelancing websites to get the work done?

How does this entire process work?

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You should probably change the question title to something more descriptive, e.g. "How to ensure a web designer is selling you an original design". –  Lèse majesté Oct 17 '10 at 9:31
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If this is a concern, you're probably not paying enough. Have you done your homework so you have a beginning of an inkling of what you want? Have you scanned through your competitor's websites so you know what you don't want the website to look like? –  Fiasco Labs May 27 '12 at 4:08
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6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you hire a real web designer rather than crowdsourcing it, then you should be able to see the design process and be involved in it.

Usually, the designer will send you some mockups and update you with their progress (or you can ask for updates) and ask for feedback on the current design.

There's no guarantee that the designer isn't stealing from the work of other designers (though few designs are truly unique or entirely original), but if you're having a custom-tailored website designed, then there shouldn't be much risk of this.

A good designer will not go out of the way to steal a template just so they can modify it beyond recognition. It would be easier to just use the existing designs or templates as creative inspiration and build an original design from the ground up to the client's needs. It's just not fun to rehash other people's work.

A poor designer, on the other hand, won't be able to emulate the style or design quality of the original designer of a template they're passing off on their own. So the second you ask them to make major changes to the design, they'll give themselves away. A poor designer will make a good design look worse and worse the more they make changes to it.

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Well, the easiest way would be to stipulate in your contract with them that they must use original work, that you will verify (don't tell them how), and that they will not be paid if their work is not original.

Just having the fear of not getting paid should be enough to make sure they create original work.

However, does it really matter if they re-use their gif spacer images? Or their background gradient images? All you have to worry about is the design and major imagery.

EDIT:

You can use something like TinEye to check to make sure the images are not reused. It's not 100% perfect, but it's pretty good.

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no, spacers and all is fine. But I was talkin about icons, layout-colors etc. –  TPR Oct 17 '10 at 3:24
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The point is, you stipulate what has to be original, if they don't use original stuff, you get a free website. –  Erik Funkenbusch Oct 17 '10 at 3:33
    
It should also be noted that a lot of websites (i.e. the majority of sites out there) use stock photography. This is a cost- and time-saving technique. Otherwise, you'd have to pay a professional photographer to take photos used for source material on your site (even for things like textures, brushes, etc.). Splitting the cost between hundreds of sites is a lot cheaper than hiring a photographer to take your own generic man-and-woman-in-business-suits/floating-handshake/smiling-woman-wearing-headset‌​/building-from-dramatic-angle photos. –  Lèse majesté Oct 17 '10 at 9:34
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if they are using spacer GIFs at all they should be fired ;) –  DisgruntledGoat Oct 18 '10 at 10:50
    
+1: for mentioning Tineye –  user3036 Nov 5 '10 at 10:08
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First off you usually get what you pay for. So if you hire some unknown to you, web designer off of a website for almost nothing there is probably a good chance of getting a reused/rehashed design. So if getting a great design is important. Then you should hire someone you know who has references or someone that has their own blog about web design and has shown off some of their work. Chances are they will cost more but you will get more value.

Secondly, using code or images from their past projects isn't a big deal if it doesn't make the design look like previous designs by that designer or others. Doing so will probably save the designer time and you money.

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The easiest way to tell if you are getting a good designer will always be through their references, check, check, check!

Ask the designer's previous clients what their experience(s) was/were like. Also, how and if the designer worked with them during the entire process.

Going to sites where designers "bid" on your project can be a BIG toss up, I would recommend staying away from those sites as you probably are getting a pre-made design. Just make sure that references are accurate.

NEVER pay 100% up front and NEVER work with someone who does not have a contract for you to view at your leisure.

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I don't think there's any problem with paying 100% upfront if there's an enforceable contract. You just need to make sure that they're operating out of a country where you're able to take them to court if they fail to deliver. So if this is the first time you've done business with them, don't just PayPal money to an anonymous email address or send them cash. If you pay by check, then they have to give you their actual name or at least their business name, which is much safer. Otherwise, use a legitimate escrow account so both parties feel safe. –  Lèse majesté May 27 '12 at 11:58
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The thing that matters is whether your visitors will like your page. Will the design encourage them to buy your product?

As long as the designer isn't violating the copyright of someone else you shouldn't worry about whether it's a duplicate some aspects of a previous design.

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Insist on seeing work in progress shots. They'll have to be pretty desperate to go so far as to find those to steal, in most cases.

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Easy to fake, just turn a few layers off in photoshop/remove a few bits or scribble out a wireframe of the design they're stealing to look as if they planned it... just saying. :) –  Anonymous May 28 '12 at 15:19
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