Building a website that performs and converts is no small task. As a business, your website is your top-performing sales rep and it needs to look the part. Before you dive into a project with a web designer, however, it pays to first have a few details squared away.
Every web designer has a unique approach to their work—and like graphic designers—a recognizable style in how they design. Not only that, hiring a web designer with limited experience may not pay off in the long run if the user experience and user interface of your website don’t perform the way you need them to. Take some time to familiarize yourself with a web designer’s work, process, and experience before you sign on the dotted line. Here are 10 questions to ask your web designer before your project begins.
Do you have a portfolio I can view?
One thing I’ve learned over the past twelve years is that I’m not the right fit for every potential client! And that’s perfectly okay! Web design, while full of best practices and common trends, also requires a lot of creativity and personal touches. I’ve worked with a wide variety of clients and businesses, which is visible in my portfolio. Asking to view a web designer’s portfolio—especially websites that may be related to your industry—will help you determine if a) you like their design style, and b) they have the experience you’re looking for.
What is your process as a web designer?
A web designer’s design process shouldn’t make or break your choice to work with them, but it does help you determine what to expect if you do choose to have them design your website. For example, my process is incredibly straightforward: define, design, refine, and build. I start by working with agencies to define their goals and needs. I spend time researching their industry to better understand their online and offline competition and then make suggestions based on the data. From there, I begin putting together a wireframe of the website with design elements in place. I work with the agency or client to focus the web design and add or remove elements based on their unfolding needs. Once the project is refined, I build their brand new website!
Which Content Management System do you use?
This is a great question to ask a potential web designer because not all designers are proficient in every platform! If you need to personally be able to make changes to your website after it is built, then it is important your website is built using a content management system (CMS) you understand. I work most frequently with WordPress and Squarespace and often integrate Shopify or other eCommerce solutions depending on the industry. I am also familiar with many other CMS options, and am continually adding new ones to my list! Make sure you check with your web designer to be sure they are able to use the CMS you need for your business website.
What is your turnaround time on web design projects?
This is a really important question to ask upfront before you hire a web designer. Whether you need a quick turnaround or not, having a clear understanding of the timeline will help both you and your web designer. A successful project will include a common understanding of the timeframe, goals, and end product.
Can you work within my budget?
Another very important question to ask is about the budget. Some web designers have a set fee for websites based on several different factors (number of pages, eCommerce integration, research needed, etc). Others are willing to hear your financial needs and make recommendations based on your budget. Either way, it helps to establish a clear understanding of the cost before getting started on your website.
How will your web design help me achieve my business goals?
If discussing goals isn’t part of a web designer’s process, you may want to go your separate ways. However, it doesn’t hurt to prompt your web designer with this question. What unique experience or skills do they have that will help them design a website that achieves your goals? Are they well versed in user experience (UX) design? Are they a master of SEO? Ultimately, it helps to learn how they envision your website will support your business.
How will you communicate with me/my team during the web design process?
Communication is key! As you sort through the details of your web design project, ask your designer to clarify her communication style. Will she email you regular updates? Will you have an opportunity to review her design before it is finalized? Are there other members of her team who will be contacting you regularly? These may seem like nitty-gritty details, but understanding how to reach your web designer (or how she will reach out to you) will alleviate any frustration or misunderstandings.
Will I be able to make updates to content after the website is built?
How your website is designed and built will determine if you are able to make changes down the road, or if you will need your web designer to make those changes for you. If having control over your site content is important to you, be sure to clarify that from the start! That will help your web designer (and you) choose a CMS that supports your needs.
Do you implement SEO on your websites?
Web design without SEO is just a pretty page somewhere on the internet. In order for your website to do the work of marketing your business, it needs to be optimized for search engines. Make sure your web designer knows the ins and outs of SEO before you hire them to build your site. Ask for an explanation of what SEO elements they will implement and how it will benefit your website.
What assets do I need to provide for the website?
While web designers are brilliant, they can’t create business content from thin air! Establish ahead of time what sort of images or website copy your web designer will need from you. Apart from your branding assets (logos, font, and colors) most designers will also request company photos to use on the website as well as basic content about your business. In some cases, web designers will write copy—or work with professional copywriters—to fine-tune your website. That is a great question to ask your web designer as well!
Bonus Question: Do you offer other services besides web design?
Once your website is done, then what? Do you have someone to continually optimize your content, check for bugs, and keep your security up to date? Ask your web designer if she offers any other services besides web design. You may be surprised to learn that she offers monthly web maintenance packages to keep your website up to date and running smoothly.