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7 questions to ask a web designer before you hire them

7 questions to ask a web designer before you hire them

Posted 29th January, 2020 by Sarah

7-minute read

It wasn’t so long ago that GoDaddy commissioned a research study that found that 59 per cent of very small businesses across Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Turkey, the UK and USA did not have a website.

If you’ve ever tried to get your own website built, you might understand why.

Finding a web designer that’s on your wavelength, talks your language in terms of tech and jargon, and is in your budget can often feel like searching for an eyelash in the ocean.

However, running a business today and not having an online presence is like being He Man without his Sword of Grayskull. It’s like being Superman but after eating kryptonite for lunch.

So, we’ve put together a shortlist of questions and explanatory notes you can ask a web designer the next time you need one.

This means that, whether it’s your first website, second, third or beyond, you’ll know what you’re getting and you’ll have an idea of their skills.

Any designer worthy of your business shouldn’t mind you asking these questions. In fact, they should be happy to answer them, because it means you know what you want – and creatives like to work with clients who actually know what they want.

Question 1: Can I see some work you’ve done?

Good web designers should be proud of the work they’ve done and be keen to show you. If they aren’t, you should hear some alarm bells ringing.

● If they have a great portfolio, that’s a good sign. Just be sure to check that at least some of the websites in it do the sort of work you want your site to do – then you’ll know that this web designer can do what you need.

● A great web designer won’t have to sell their services, the quality of their work will sell it for them.

● Ideally, you want a designer who can create a range of great-looking, effective websites. Versatility goes a long way in web design.

● It might be reassuring if they have done other websites that are visually similar to yours but, if they have, make sure to check what they are going to do that will make yours stand out from the others.

Question 2: Can I see your references and testimonials?

This is an excellent follow-up question, because you need to know that the clients your potential designer has worked for are happy with their websites. That’s a good indication that you will be, too. This is important because there is more to designing a website than making it look pretty, you need to have some confidence that the designer has the experience of working with clients, has understood the brief and created a functional website that ticks all the client’s boxes. That’s what you want from them, after all.

Question 3: Who will create the content for my website?

If you have had a website that failed, there’s a good chance that an absence of quality content is to blame. So, it’s important to understand that a website is more than a pretty picture. It is a tool that should be designed to help you achieve your business goals by helping your customers achieve theirs.

The most potent websites are ones built to a digital and content strategy. It’s about understanding the words people type into Google to find services like yours then, when they arrive at your website, answering their questions. That’s why you’ll hear the saying ‘content is king’.

Your website therefore needs to be populated with content that helps you get found then helps you sell. Speak to your web designer about the best use of content, meta-data and SEO.

Some important details you can discuss with your designer include:

● Market research

● Content strategy

● Keywords

● SEO and metadata

● Analytics

If you’re nervous about writing website content, blogs or product descriptions for your website, you’ll find our 7 commandments for writing words for your website useful. And, here we profile 8 tools for better blogging.

Question 4: What’s your process?

Get the web designer to explain what they need from you, and what they will do with the information when planning your website. Things to look for:

● A good designer will always begin by considering your objectives – so they should ask you, for example, if you want to use your site for commerce or as a portfolio.

● They can then start creating a sitemap to show you the overall content structure.

● They can also use design software, like Photoshop, to create a layout for you, so you can see how your finished website will look.

Good design isn’t just about making your website aesthetically pleasing, it also needs to offer excellent user experience.

Question 5: How long will it take to design my website?

Clearly, this is a key concern for you, since you’re keen to get your business online. By this point, the designer should have an idea of how simple or complicated your website will be, of how many pages will be needed, and of how much design will be involved. Therefore, they should be able to give you firm time-frame.

A typical website design process can fall into four basic stages, you can ask how long each of these phases is likely to last:

  1. Discussion phase.

  2. Design and development phase – this is the stage the designer will do alone, and will possibly be the longest phase.

  3. Amendment phase – this is the phase you’ll be closely involved in, they should welcome and encourage your input.

  4. Launch.

It’s very important that you and your designer agree, upfront, that they will consult with you and make changes if you require them, before the site goes live.

This is a good time to put down in black and white how many amendments the designer will do for the agreed price. Three sets of amendments is not unfair. After that, the designer is generally thought to be within their rights to start charging for additional changes you make to your site. Obviously, if the designer makes mistakes – and that can happen to the best of us – they should be corrected for free.

Question 6: How much will my website cost?

This is the crunch question, of course, since you’re footing the bill. There is no hard and fast rule about costing a website; all you need to bear in mind is that they will have an hourly rate and a day rate that they work to, and you are buying their expertise for the required amount of time. That said, it’s a good idea to have a budget in mind for what you want to pay.

If the designer knows how long they will need to create the site, and how involved that work will be, they will have a good idea of how much to charge and should be able to confirm that to you, before they get started.

Question 7: Can I update my site, myself?

Since it’s your site, you should have unfettered access to it. Essentially, what you’re asking here is who will have the pass(word) keys to the back door of your online shop. You want to make sure that you have those keys, just like you would with a bricks and mortar shop.

Now, you may prefer to have them make updates for you, since they’re the expert. That’s okay, but you need to settle that beforehand, so you know how much they will charge for the ongoing maintenance and updates of your site.

If you are relying on your web designer to do everything, there are two considerations: it’s going to take a bit longer to make changes and it’s certainly going to cost you some money as well. That said, if you don’t feel confident doing updates to your content yourself, it might be a better use of your time and your money to get them to do it. Just make sure you settle all that, before you start.

Categories: Web Design, SEO, Blogging, Marketing, Small Businesses

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