Well this is exactly my area of expertise and so I'll step up.
Here's an old adage that stands true for 85% of design jobs done cold with no prior relationship:You can have it done:
Experience has shown me that the GOOD part of the equation is essentially the non-negotiable quality. That means you have to lose Fast or Cheap.how to find people to design a website
People or designers? There's a difference. If you want people, go to Criaigslist or some other overseas outsourcing website that connects people to people. For designers, at the price range you seem to be seeking contact the Career Services department of The Art Institute of Phoenix, Collins College and ASU.
Or visit design directories like:http://www.creativehotlist.com/index.as ... mePort.asphttp://www.coroflot.com/public/people_home.asphttp://portfolios.gag.orghttp://www.creativeshake.comhttp://www.altpick.comhow to choose a person
Meet them in person. Screen them by their digital portfolios. If they can't show you a digital portfolio, run. Don't ever hire someone without meeting them. If you like their work, schedule coffee with them. Write their clients for quick references with three short questions of areas that are relevant to your job.how to tell if someone is competent
Their portfolio will show you if they are competent, as will their face to face meeting. This will also confirm if there is any language barrier, which may be an issue in outsourcing overseas. Since you are looking for specific expertise in setting up a message-board type forum, don't hire anyone without experience in this area. On the flipside, don't hire someone who does just forums and only forums, as chances are they are not a designer but just a tech guy who sets up Content Management Systems. I'm presuming you don't just want a functional website, but one that is actually attractive, unique and converts viewers into consumers or fans of your brand. Ask them what their experience is in branding. Blank stare or doubletake, and move on. Here's another dealbreaking question that separates the (wo)men from the boys: "How do you plan to integrate SEO* strategies as you build my site?" If they stare at you blankly, ask SEO? or say they'll get back to you, move on to the next interview. Additionally a GOOD designer won't talk over your head with mumbo jumbo but take time to find out your needs and marketing interests before cramming their solutions down your throat FAST and CHEAP.what's a reasonable price range
For a degreed designer with a decent portfolio, don't pay any less than $20 an hour. $25 would be respectful for a recent graduate with obviously demonstrated talent. For nondegreed or overseas, expect to pay less and possibly get less. For someone with substantial and measurable experience under their belt expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $100 per hour. Typically for the higher range you can expect some advanced degree of experienced branding, marketing, SEO, total package.*Search Engine Optimization