Deciding on and hiring a web designer can no doubt be a tricky undertaking. Whether you’re a first-timer to a professional web person or you’ve already been burned a few times before by picking the wrong one, here are 10 questions that you’ll absolutely want to ask when considering a new web designer.
Can you send me some examples of similar website projects you’ve worked on?
It’s always good to get an idea of a web designer’s capabilities before you begin working together. Looking through their portfolio, do you find that you like their aesthetic? Do they have examples of functionality that you’d love for your site to have? If not, you’ll want to be sure to make your expectations very clear up front, just to be positive that the person you’re hiring is totally capable of doing the job.
What does your web design process look like, from start to finish?
Especially if you’ve never worked with a web designer before, you’ll definitely want to get some insight into their process. Maybe you want to be very involved in the creative process from start to finish, with lots of communication: find a designer who works that way. Or maybe you’d rather the designer really take charge and only loop you in whenever absolutely necessary: those designers are out there, too. The important thing is to get on the same page about process before the project begins, that way both parties know exactly what to expect.
How much will the complete project cost?
Prospective designers should be able to provide you with at least a ballpark estimate before beginning work. You’ll want to make sure they provide you with a proposal outlining the complete scope of the project, any additional costs that might arise, etc., just so there are no surprises down the road.
How long does a typical website project take?
This one largely depends on the designer, so it’s important to get an idea of their timeline before beginning work. Maybe you need the website done in two months, but your prospective designer typically takes three—it’s a must-have conversation to ensure you have a timeline that works well for you both.
What will you do to make my site search engine friendly?
A website won’t do you a lot of good if it can’t be found by your prospective audience, so search engine optimization (SEO) is an important component of a website. A lot of web designers aren’t necessarily SEO experts, but they should certainly be able to equip you with the basics to set you up for success down the road. If SEO is a biggie for you, you might want to consider working with that SEO expert in tandem with your web designer–or choose someone who can provide both services.
What do I need to do or provide?
Unless you’re hiring someone to write your copy and provide all photos and other necessary information for your new site, there’s a good chance that you’ll be pretty involved in the web design process, too. Before starting with a web designer, you’ll want to know exactly what they’ll need from you, and when they’ll need the materials by in order to keep progressing on the project. You’ll also be needed for feedback throughout the process, so the more direction you can get from the designer in terms of when and on what you’ll be needed, the better you’ll be able to plan ahead and ensure the project stays on track.
Will the site be mobile friendly?
This is a biggie! A mobile friendly site is one that’s built on a responsive framework, meaning that it will look great not only on a desktop computer, but also on a phone or tablet as well. As mobile site usage increases a bit more each year, it’s almost become assumed that new sites will be built responsively. But you’ll still want to make sure to ask—and get a good idea regarding how well the designer will test to make sure the site is performing well on a variety of devices.
Will I be able to edit the site myself? If so, will you provide training?
Maybe you’ll only want to edit certain parts of your site (a calendar, team pages, or blog for instance), or maybe you have no interest in updating the site yourself at all. You’ll definitely want to know what your options are for future changes though, and if you’d like to update yourself, there’s a good chance you’d need a bit of training beforehand in order to do so. Make sure to ask if training is included, or if it can be purchased separately.
Do you offer any ongoing support or maintenance after the project is completed?
This is especially important if you’d rather not update your site on your own. Ask the designer if he or she offers maintenance packages, or will work for an hourly fee as updates are needed. Especially if you like working with the person, it’s nice to know that you’ll have someone to rely on down the road should you need the occasional (or frequent) updates or tweaks.
Once the project is completed, who owns the website?
Most people will want to ensure that they own the entire site upon project completion—any custom code, all images, design elements, etc. You won’t want the unpleasant surprise of not being allowed to have someone else work on the site in the future, or being locked into a monthly payment in order to keep your site up and running.