I am sorry you've had difficulty finding a reputable designer. As with any industry, there are good and bad players. Fortunately, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled, ethical, and reliable developers out there. You just need to go where they hang out.
When you say, "none are able to deliver," what do you mean?
I would guess that you've put your request out there on a few freelance sites and worked with the first person to respond - since you do not have the background and experience to know what to ask for, they do exactly what you ask and nothing more. They don't dig for what you really want and you don't know what you're asking for (in their terms).
Generally speaking, the high-quality developers are not hanging out on Freelancer.com, they have simply built a business outside of that platform. Freelance sites like that are good for establishing a portfolio of work to then win bigger, more reliable projects. Those who spend their entire career there are generally "pump and dump" - meaning they work on volume; quickly turning projects with low margins.
You need a developer who will help you define the entire project, ask questions, challenge your 'why', and be able to describe why something will or will not work.
This comes at a cost.
To find reputable developers, look at reputable platforms: LinkedIn and Clarity, for example. Reach out to a few of them with a general idea of what you are looking for. They will likely charge you a flat rate for a discovery call - do this. The questions they ask will benefit you just as much as they help the developer. At this point, you're each seeing if it is a good fit. If not, move on. If it is, you have a sense of how they work, their methods, and their skill level.
I have a few developers that I would recommend you call - out of respect for the community, I will not share their contact information publicly. Drop me a private message or schedule a call on Clarity and we can discuss further.
All the best,
P.S. I spent a number of years on the design/developer side before transitioning to consulting. If you want to learn more about what to ask, what to expect, and how to protect yourself, schedule a call.
Finding a qualified developer or an agency these days is a rough endeavor.
* Verifying output and credentials is nearly impossible for a non-technical business owner.
* Assessing product quality upfront is challenging. A custom build will be different even if you send the same assignment to 10 different companies.
* Setting the right KPIs upfront is tough. Even if you establish some traffic/data volume limits, you'll require both time and expertise in order to validate that.
Determining quality by price won't work every time, either. There are cheap developers who produce outstanding work and expensive consultants who can't deliver.
Try to break the process down into separate components. For example:
* A mockup/wireframe/sketch of your website.
* A sitemap of all pages.
* A use case diagram defining all roles and how they interact with the platform.
* A detailed scope of work defining all project requirements, the key features that the platform needs and sample user stories that should validate upon delivery.
A good starting point is picking the right technical stack for your platform. Could be a CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, a framework like Laravel, Ruby on Rails, Django, or a completely custom platform. All of these have pros and cons and you can find a technical expert in your network who can assist once you have the initial brief ready.
Certain platforms like WordPress have designated marketplaces for experts. TopTal is also a good place to find great talent. Looking up online may uncover experts and companies profiling in similar industries. Word of mouth works great if you ask around in your network.