What questions should you ask a web designer before hiring them?

Looking for an excellent web designer can be a challenging task. If you’ve been burned by one in the past, it’s even harder to find a good one. How do you pick a great designer to build or revamp your website?

We have been designing websites for more than twenty years. Most of our work comes from word-of-mouth referrals, and people who have been let down by other designers in the past. There are many web designers around, but there are a LOT who don’t really know what they’re doing. They attempt to cobble together a slapdash website and take your money as fast as possible, without stopping to consider exactly what you need and what will give you the best value possible. Avoid those web designers! They are not considering your best interests and won’t be able to serve you in the long-term.

So, HOW do you decide which designer is a good fit for your business? How do you know whether they are knowledgeable, experienced, and will offer an excellent, comprehensive service?

Here are a few questions you should ask a web designer whom you are considering to build your new website:

1. Do you have any references or testimonials from past and current clients?

A good web designer has a lot of experience, and many people who are willing to offer feedback about their level of service and expertise. Ideally, these customer reviews should be highly visible on their business website. Reviews should include the reviewer’s full name (and company name, if applicable). If “John” wrote a review, it might easily have been fabricated. A full name and company name with a review makes makes them easy to verify. You should check their Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and any reviews they have listed on their website.

Google reviews are great sources of information. They can’t be removed or edited by the web design company. Only verified Gmail account holders can leave reviews. Occasionally, people leave malicious, fake reviews (it happens to everyone), but pay close attention to the reply the web design company gave, and the wording of the review, to decide for yourself if the review has been left by a genuine customer or not.

2. How experienced are you, and can I see examples of your work?

Every professional web design company can show you examples of live websites they have built and continue to maintain, and they should have a portfolio of work clearly laid out on their business website. You should be able to look through these websites to see their functionality and design aesthetic, and decide if it matches your website design requirements. Web designers, like all creatives, tend to have a style. If you can look through their portfolio of website design work, you can see if their style melds with your own and what you envisage for your business.

3. Can you give me a written proposal that outlines how my website will function and how much it will cost?

Good website design quotes take time to construct. An excellent web designer will ask you questions about your business, to understand exactly what you want from your website and what you need it to achieve. If they have fully understood your objectives, they will be able to give you a detailed breakdown of how your website will function, and how much such a website will cost. This is particularly important for large, complex websites. If you only need a small, five-page, standard information website, it’s unlikely this proposal document will be very long. However, if you need an ecommerce online shop with customised bookings, or pricing, or unique product variations, this document can grow in complexity.

It’s worth remembering that any good web designer will ask your budget and broad objectives before writing out this complete document. If it’s clear that you want much more than your money will allow, they might give you a broad outline first, with an indication of what you could expect to pay for what you are asking for. If this estimate is outside what you can afford, you will likely need to adjust either your website requirements or increase your budget.

This is another reason why a great web designer is such an asset to your business. They can help you to manage your expectations of what is possible and what is feasible. If you have a tiny budget and want a huge website, no professional designer will want to work on the project. They know how long websites take to build. Good website designers want to be paid fairly for their time and knowledge.

If a web designer agrees to build your site anyway, you will probably get exactly what you paid for – a website claiming to be complex, but one that doesn’t function like you imagined and will probably break very soon, if it works properly at all. You will be disappointed, out of pocket, and no closer to your business goals. A good web designer is worth every cent you spend – as long as you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

4. What CMS will you use?

CMS stands for “content management system”. You can update your own website if it is built on a CMS. You won’t need to ask a designer to do it for you.

WordPress is the most widely used CMS in the world. It is reliable, stable, and extremely versatile. There are thousands of online tutorials online that will explain how to operate a WordPress website. WordPress is excellent for SEO (search engine optimisation) and can be extended as your business grows. It’s also usually the most cost-effective website system. This is especially true if you need advanced functionality, or an ecommerce shop. There are other systems available, but they lack SEO compatibility, or can quickly get very expensive.

5. Do you understand how search engines work, and can you explain it to me?

This is an increbily important question that you should ask your web designer! Designers MUST know how search engines work to build websites that are search engine friendly. And the quickest way to tell if someone understands a topic is by asking them to explain it to you! Your website designer should understand SEO (search engine optimisation) and the importance of mobile responsiveness. Mobile searches are becoming more popular all the time. They should also build websites that meet Google’s criteria as closely as possible. There’s no point building a website to streamline your business online if no one knows it exists!

BONUS QUESTION: How do you suggest I market my website?

Firstly, you should know how you’re going to market your own business first before you start it. However, any good web designer can offer constructive ideas to market your website! Ideally, their suggestions should be for both the online and offline spaces. Creative marketing ideas are a sure-fire sign of a well-rounded website designer. A website is useless if no one knows about it, and every web designer knows this.

If you have any more questions or would like to ask US some of the questions above, please contact us here. We are ready and waiting for your call!

ecommerce, ecommerce website, search engine optimization, website cost, website maintenance, website strategy, wordpress

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