21 Questions to Ask Before Hiring
a Web Designer
a Web Designer
Hiring a web designer is one of the most important tasks you’ll face as a business owner. Whether you’re designing a brand new website for your business for the very first time or redesigning an existing one, the web designer you decide to hire will dictate your website’s success. No pressure, right?
Of course, hiring the ideal web designer who understands your specific company needs and goals comes with a great deal of pressure. With so many options of web design companies, both locally and globally, it can become overwhelming determining which one is the right fit for your business. For this reason, the best approach is to use a thorough hiring process. Just like hiring a new employee, choosing a web design firm takes interviewing, reviewing performance results, requesting a portfolio of their work and checking references.
So how do you know if a web designer is a good fit for your business? The key is to ask the right questions. Once you do your due diligence, the answer will become clear as to which web design firm best grasps your vision, your objectives, and the path they’ll need to take for your success. The initial consultation also gives the potential web design company a chance to ask questions and get to know your business, your target audience and the objectives for the website so they can apply their expertise in developing a plan to help you achieve your online business goals.
To help you with your interviewing preparations, here are 21 essential questions to ask before hiring a web designer:
1) Which services are included in a web design package?
How many times have you purchased an item, only to discover a miniscule ‘batteries not included’ after you’ve already checked out? It’s an annoying inconvenience for sure, but let’s take it up a notch and say the item you purchased is a new website for your business. Not knowing what’s included in your website design package could be a major detriment to your success online, and those “batteries” could be services that are critical to achieving your objectives. Before you sign any contracts, be sure your web designer is able to clearly explain to you which services are included their web design packages, along with which package would be the best fit for the needs of your business and your clients.
2) Who will be working on my website?
Communication is key to a successful business-designer relationship. Some web designers may work on each piece of your website independently, while others may have a team of graphic designers, writers, and programmers within their team to divide the work based on their specialties. No matter the case, you should have a clear understanding of who your point person will be throughout the duration of your web design project. This may be the designer themselves, or it may be another member of their team who handles client interactions.The last thing you want to do is muddle communications by playing a long game of phone tag until you reach the right person – especially when it comes to something as important as your website.
3) Can you build a website within my budget?
The ideal web designer will be transparent with you about the features and services available to you within your given budget. This includes being up front and honest about the cost of their work, even if that means telling you they are unable to build a website that fits your needs at the price point you are comfortable with. When looking through a web designer’s portfolio, ask them to highlight previous projects they’ve worked on with a similar budget to give yourself a feel for the quality and intricacy of the design you can expect should you choose to work with them.
4) What about content creation?
There’s no denying the importance of content as it relates to your web design. After all the images on a website hold far less meaning without words there to add context. The content on your website serves to educate, inform and entertain your readers. It also plays a huge role in your SEO efforts, giving search engines something to read and index. For this reason, it’s important to iron out the details of your content strategy. Will you be providing your own content, or will your web designer be creating it for you? If someone else will be writing your content, are their writing samples easy to follow and intelligently written? Which keywords will be important to target with your content creation? The content on your website is just as important as the design – don’t forget to iron out this detail!
5) How long will it take to build my website?
Depending on the scale of your website, there are different expectations to have in regards to turnaround time. This should be discussed prior to any design of the website, so that both the team and the client are on the same page. It’s important to note that any projected timeline given during your consultation is simply an estimate, not a guarantee. Unforeseen circumstances can arise at any time, slowing down the design process. Look for a web designer who promises an open line of communication should any setbacks arise that change your projected launch date.
6) Will I be able to see my new website before it is finished?
It is advantageous to be able to view at least the basic graphics of the website as it is being built. This allows you to give feedback along the way, preventing any major changes at the end of the project. Some web design firms will go the extra mile and let you view and play with a working prototype, while others will leave you completely in the dark until the end. You may not want to view your new website until it is completed anyway, but you should still strive to work with a web designer who gives you the option to check in on their progress should you choose to.
7) What if I don’t like the final design?
Even if you’ve been involved in the design process every step of the way, there’s still a chance that something about the final design still feels off when you see it all pieced together. And that’s okay! You understand your vision for your website better than anyone, and you should make it known if you see anything that you’d like tweaked. The question then becomes finding out how many edits are available to you in your web design package. Some web designers allow a set number of edits, others an unlimited amount, and some none at all without an additional fee. Know what you are getting into ahead of time, especially if you are someone with a sharp eye for the fine details.
8) What happens if changes need to be made to the website in the future?
This depends on what’s included in your web design package. If website maintenance is already incorporated into that base price, then your web designer will make future changes for you. If not, then you have two choices: Purchase a maintenance package if that is an option, or learn how to do it yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, your web designer should train you on the ins and outs of the backend of your website until you feel comfortable making future changes on your own.
9) Are SEO services included?
To effectively market your product or service, integrating SEO into your website is a top priority. It allows your website to be one of the top listed sites when customers are searching for what you offer online. Your website needs to be coded properly, follow the latest standards, and content must be optimized to ensure your website shows up when consumers search for the products and services you offer. Make sure to inquire whether SEO is a service offered by your website design team and if any initial SEO is included in the price of the website.
10) Who owns my website?
Policies vary widely from company to company. Some will allow clients to have their own domain name giving them ownership over the website and the hosting account. Others may not. Be sure to know this ahead of time, along with whether or not a continued fee needs to be paid to keep the site up and running.
11) What is your design process?
Organization is key to keeping your project timeline as close to the estimated launch date as possible. The most organized web designers will have a tried-and-true design process in place, operating like a well-oiled machine from start to finish. Strive to work with a web designer who is able to confidently walk you through their workflow with full transparency – from initial research and development all the way through launch day.
12) How involved will I be in the design process?
Many times, this is really up to you. Some business owners prefer to be involved in every step of the design process, and others would rather let their web designer take the reins entirely. No matter your preference, make sure any web designer you are considering is on the same page. The last thing you want to do is lock yourself into a contract that requires more or less involvement than you are willing or able to provide.
13) How much of my website will be created in-house vs. outsourced?
Some web designers handle every aspect of your website on their own or within their agency, while others may outsource certain elements of your new website. Outsourcing specialized elements such as tech, video or copywriting can be incredibly beneficial at providing you with the highest quality finished product. However, it may also pose some unique complications such as timeline setbacks due to lapses in communication. Your web designer should be transparent with you if any aspect of your project will be outsourced, but it’s always a good idea to ask if this information is not presented to you up front.
14) Will my website be secure?
If the answer to this is anything other than a resounding “yes,” it’s time to find another designer! It’s absolutely crucial that your website is secure – not only to protect any sensitive information on your site, but for SEO purposes as well. Google requires pages to have a SSL certificate (HTTPS) to be indexed, and any website without will be buried and/or blocked by Chrome. Discuss the security measures that will be taken to ensure your new website is equipped to keep your data and your customers’ data safe.
15) Do you have a portfolio and/or client testimonials?
Like the question above, any answer other than “yes” should raise some major red flags. A web designer should be ready and eager to highlight their best work and happiest clients. Your business’ website isn’t an investment that should be made haphazardly – if a potential web designer isn’t able to provide you with examples of successful previous work, there’s a chance it doesn’t exist.
16) Which industries are you most familiar with?
If you were commissioning a custom piece of abstract art, you probably wouldn’t hire someone who specializes in realism painting. Sure, they may understand what abstract art entails, but they might not be familiar with the small nuances that make a piece truly successful. The same applies to business websites within certain niches. A designer who has built many websites for B2B tech companies may not be the most logical fit for an ecommerce beauty brand, for example. Most web designers will be able to create a website for any industry, but those with experience building for industries similar to yours may ultimately have the edge.
17) How will my website generate leads?
With so much focus being put on the overall look of your new website, it’s easy to forget to discuss its functionality as it relates to your goals. After all, how beneficial is the world’s most beautiful website really if it isn’t designed in a way that turns visitors into customers? While going over the layout and strategy behind your proposed new website, ask your potential web designer to show you how your new website will be optimized to generate and capture leads.
18) Are your websites built to be mobile-friendly?
An estimated 72% of the world’s population will access the internet solely via smartphone by 2025. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing by now, you’re already missing out on a massive pool of potential customers. Mobile-friendly web design is a non-negotiable in this day and age – one that is responsive across devices to provide the same viewing experience on any sized screen. Your customers will thank you, and Google will too.
19) What do you need from me before you get started?
This question is music to any web designer’s ears! And if your web designer is able to provide you with a list of materials they’ll need in order to start your project, it should be music to yours too. Supply your web designer with any branding elements they may need to bring your new website to life, such as fonts, colors, and images. It’s also beneficial to send over links to other websites with design elements you like. The more you are able to provide, the easier it will be for your web designer to understand your vision and keep your project on track.
20) How do you handle payments?
There are a number of ways a web designer could invoice you for their work. Some bill by the hour, while others have a flat rate for their web design packages. Some require full payment up front, while others work with you to create a payment plan over time. Before you sign any contracts, be sure you fully understand what you’re paying for along with how and when you will be paying for it.
21) Which other marketing services do you offer?
If marketing isn’t something your business is able to manage in-house, it may be advantageous to work with a digital marketing agency who also handles web design. Services like SEO, content creation, and even social media all work in tandem with your website, so it might make sense for you to look for a one-stop shop for all of your marketing efforts. When your designer is developing your website with each of these elements in mind, your overall marketing strategy will be more cohesive – and you’ll probably save money keeping it all under one roof.
The Bottom Line
By asking the right questions up front, you can avoid most of the major pitfalls that cause many web design projects to take a turn for the worse. Your website sets the stage for your business’ success on the web, so it’s critical that you have a solid working relationship with your web designer. It’s absolutely worth it to take the time to do your due diligence, ask productive questions and gather all of the necessary facts before you embark on this important next step.
Who We Are
Creative Click Media was founded on the belief that good design is good for business, both on the web and beyond. Our multi-award winning team of design dynamos have created hundreds of beautiful, functional websites for clients across a wide spectrum of sizes, industries and unique business challenges. Behind our ongoing pursuit of excellence is an important business philosophy based on the concept of mutual respect, accountability, responsibility, integrity and quality, as well as a commitment to maintaining healthy and mutually beneficial professional relationships.
Now that we’ve loaded you up with insightful questions to ask before hiring a web designer, we have one question to ask you: Are you ready to get started?