As web designers, we have a standard list of what questions we should be asking a client before we get started on a new project. What are your goals? Who are your top competitors? Who’s your target audience? What problems are you having with your current site?
But what about you as the customer? What questions should YOU ask to ensure you find a designer not only that you can trust to do a great job but have an enjoyable working relationship with? Provided you already have many questions of your own, relevant to your specific needs, here are an additional 8 questions we think are a good idea to ask before hiring a web designer.
1. What does your process look like from start to finish?
An experienced web designer should be able to provide you a step by step action plan of what it will take to build your site. They should, at least, be able to provide you with a basic timeline and what milestones to expect along the way. If they can’t clearly articulate their design process, that may indicate they are relatively new to this industry or are simply unorganized, both of which you need to consider moving forward. A designer with a thorough, tested and perfected strategy will be able to keep the ball rolling, ensuring you both stay on track to hit your target launch date.
2. Do you outsource any of the work?
It’s actually fairly common for agencies to contract out work such as copywriting or logo design. If these types of services are required for your particular project, it might be that you would prefer a yes to this question. Web designers aren’t necessarily super skilled in every area. It takes a village, sometimes. Think of it like building a house. A roofer, an electrician and a mason are usually called in for their expertise. So know that it’s okay if they answer yes to this question, to an extent.
3. Have you designed other similar sites within my industry?
We all want to feel comfortable that something as important as our identity is in the hands of a professional. Different industries sometimes require websites that have specific design aspects or features. If they answer yes, great. If they answer no, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them what makes them qualified to design a website for you. This is going to be one where you have to use your best judgement. Remember that if they don’t have experience designing sites for, let’s say musicians, it doesn’t mean they wont do a good job. It may just mean you have to be really thorough at communicating what it is you expect, want and need from your new site.
4.How many changes or rounds of revisions are allowed?
Will I be charged beyond that? This is a good question to ask because every designer has a different approach. Some allow 2-3 rounds of changes or edits. Some don’t specify how many times you can come back to them and change your mind on an aspect of the site. Find out the hourly rate of your designer and at what point that rate will begin to apply. Remember though, every time you make changes or ask for something different than you originally agreed upon, it most likely will push your scheduled launch date back further and further.
5. Will my site be responsive?
Some people don’t realize they have to ask this question. Many just assume their new site will be optimized for mobile devices. But unfortunately, even in 2019, you should make sure the designer is going to take the time to make your new website responsive on mobile and tablets, not only on desktop. You want your content to look great on any screen and because well over 50% of all websites are now viewed on mobile devices, this really is a must-have.
6. What is going to be required/expected from me/my company during this process?
Know what all the designer is expecting of you as the customer. Are you to provide all of the site’s content? What about photos and graphics? Is that something you are responsible for or is the designer sourcing those things as part of their price? Work out these kinks before getting too far along in the build. This is your baby, afterall, and you should have a say in how involved you want to be. Find a designer that you think will be comfortable with whatever level of involvement you want to have in the project.
7. What types of testing do you perform before launching my new site?
It’s important for you to find out how your new site will be tested prior to its launch. You should ensure the designer will conduct cross-platform testing on all major browsers (Chrome, FireFox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Edge) as well as on the latest versions of the most common operating systems. This should all be done before the site goes live, and in addition to the most essential tests such as readability, responsiveness, speed and link testing. Also, ask if there will be any lag time between when your old site comes down and the new one goes up. If there will be, you may want to prepare your employees and/or customers for the downtime to minimize its impact as much as possible.
8. Who’s in charge of maintaining my site after its complete?
Your amazingly fast, optimized and secure brand new site is finally live! Now what? Who updates the plugins? Who runs backups? Who is going to make small changes to content as they arise? Some design firms offer maintenance packages for you to buy and some will provide you with detailed instructions on how to manage the new site yourself, completely handing over the keys. There is no right or wrong answer here. It may be that you want nothing to do with the upkeep of your new site, and that’s okay, but you have to figure those things our before you presume a designer is going to do it for you.
So now you should have a good head start when you begin the process of searching for a new web designer. Remember to tailor the questions to your specific project and make your needs and wants known. You are in control of who you allow to take charge of your website, and we recommend doing your due diligence so that you end up with something you can be proud of and that accurately represents you and your business.