I'll soon be looking for a web designer to relaunch my website. I'm hoping to find someone who can not only handle the design, but the actual implementation. Eventually, I'd like this site to be able to support eLearning, online paid-for content. I've used Freelancer, Crowdspring, DesignCrowd for small design projects with varying levels of success. Any platforms you would recommend to track down high quality freelance web developers?
Depending on what you need, you'll probably want to look at actual agencies. A single freelancer is unlikely to have the complete spectrum of skills you'll need, and unless you're looking to hire someone full-time, you'll probably have trouble retaining a single freelancer for a long period of time without conflicts.
A mid-sized agency like the one I started (and later sold) specializes in designing and building sites. Their specialty is marketing and client acquisition, so they wouldn't be much help for the custom stuff later down the road — but that may not be an issue now.
Another option may be to use a high-end development talent agency like http://www.10xmanagement.com/ — this company hires out very good developers, but you'll pay a premium.
Like anything, you'll get what you pay for. Sometimes you'll get lucky on Elance, but you take on a lot of risk for the lower price.
A mid-range agency has lower risk, but may lack full-stack capabilities.
A high-range agency can solve all your problems, but you'll pay top dollar for it.
I have a lot of experience screening and recruiting talent for projects in the mid-to-high range, so if you'd like to discuss strategies, let me know.
My friend George once told me this old saw he learned from his dad, who was in the printing business: "You can have it fast. You can have it cheap. You can have it good. Pick two."
If you're wanting high-quality web design and development, then you must be prepared to spend a while searching for cheap talent. Or if you do feel a sense of urgency, then you need to forget about trying to save money on the front-end, and focus on what your delays are costing you in terms of lost business. I've run a creative services shop for seven years, and have worked with dozens of freelancers. I've found that every penny I try to save I usually end up "spending" in the form of frustration with the freelancer's professionalism, turnaround times, and communication.
Even if he produces good design, would I have chosen him if I had known he'd drag his feet for two months?
High-quality design and development are an investment. Invest in the best you can possibly afford.
And keep in mind that you may actually need to hire two different people. Not all designers code, and not all coders design.
I've had a lot of success on Upwork, but as often I start on Dribbble and Behance.
If you can, spend top dollar on design and dev because you typically get what you pay for. And find other ways to save money, or even better, increase revenues.
Let's put together a more specific plan for you. I love this stuff!
We have been discussing those problems at WordCamps for a few years now since the web design/development market has been oversaturated in terms of numbers, but quality is fairly hard to find.
If you are a technical person, you can look for people with active GitHub presence and review some code yourself. Otherwise, find some reputable community people.
With WordPress powering close to 25% of the Internet right now, that's probably a platform that you may look into. That said, see if there is a local meetup or a WordCamp happening in your area and ping some of the speakers, or search some of the WordPress development agencies and browse their showcases.
Most good engineers and designers are community involved since this is the best way to always stay up to date and improve your skills through collaboration.
Happy to discuss more over a call if you need additional guidance or technical help.
I do not support or encourage the use of crowd-sourcing services. They do not provide the best outcome for you (the clieet) as it pertains to focusing on your individual needs, building relationships and most importantly: bringing you (the client) closer to a truly professional and skilled designer. Crowd-sourcing often (if not always) pays many of the candidates $0. This is Spec Work which I 100% do not support.
Alternatively, you can look for and work with an experienced and reputable designer who is familiar with graphic and website design, user experience, user interface design and has a portfolio you like and jives with what you need.
You can look on places like Behance, Coroflot, or Creative Hotlist and search for folks you like. These are known creative portals that will help you narrow down your search to creative professionals that know what they are doing.
If you are looking for a quality end product that will grow with your business, then it's worth it to pay a little more now to make sure it gets done right.
Crowdsourcing platforms are mixed experience. Sometimes you'll get someone really great, other times you will hit rock bottom.
The key would be to find an individual or an agency that has both the experience and a name. We live in a service and relationship based economy, so aim for an individual or a company with a reputation to keep. They will likely go the extra mile.