8 Key Questions to Ask a Potential Web Designer
Contracting a web designer to build (or redesign) your website is exciting. But it’s important to take a little time to find the right people to work with.
Building a website is really a partnership between you (the client) and the designer. It’s a product of your ideas plus knowledge of your business and customers, combined with the designers ideas and knowledge of how successful websites are put together. It takes a lot more than just a nice design to make a website that really gets results.
So here we’re going to get into some questions you need to think about, and then ask your web designer to make sure you are choosing the right person to work with.
1. Ask to See Examples of Work They Have Already Done
Fairly obvious this one, but it’s worth taking a bit of time to look at some of their previous work. You don’t have to want something similar for your own site, but previous work should look good and work well.
Check their own website too of course. Now I know plumbers are always the last to fix their own leaky taps, but your potential web designer should at least have a website of their own that looks professional. If they don’t, you have to wonder why! Their site will probably showcase previous work anyway so you may be able to get everything you need from there to cover this question.
2. Ask What Their Design Process Is
This is partly testing out how professional your potential designer is, and also for you own understanding.
A typical design process will start with fact finding where they learn what your business does and what you are hoping to achieve with the new site. This will move into a proposal phase where they take your ideas, add their own expertise and document out what they plan to build for you. This may require some fine tuning or revision to meet your budget. But on your agreement you will typically pay 50%+ of the cost at this point to move into an actual design and build phase, which should involve you at key stages to review the direction things are taking. Before finally the site is launched, and things can move into a review phase for a while or an ongoing maintenance agreement.
Processes will of course vary across designers and agencies, but a good answer to this question looks like a professional design process. It doesn’t look like “we just build you a site and then send it to you” 😉
3. Ask If They Provide Ongoing Support
Websites do not look after themselves. They will need updating to keep them secure and functioning well. It’s also very likely you will want changes made or new content added in the future. It will save you a lot of hassle if you can just send an email and get the same designer to take care of things as and when you need.
So, ask if they provide maintenance plans, and ask what these include. Some plans will include website content changes as part of the plan. But also ask how things work if you want larger changes done later on.
If they don’t have any kind of ongoing support or sound surprised at the idea then consider that a big warning sign.
4. Ask How Long It Will Take
It will depend greatly on how big the design project is and what you want done, but this is just to get an idea. If they are super busy and it’s going to take 6 months then you may need to look elsewhere.
Typically any web design project is going to take weeks, and more likely 1-2 months. This can also depend greatly on how quickly you provide any information they need or how quickly you answer questions that come up.
As soon as you know you’re going to need a site built (or redesigned) start making contact with potential web designers. It will help you clarify exactly what you need, and get you there faster.
5. Check If the Site Will Be Optimised for Mobile Devices
Again, this is really just a bit of a test. Any web designer today who is ignoring mobile devices or treating them as an ‘add-on extra’ is someone to avoid.
It varies by industry, but around half of all web usage now is via mobile devices. So the answer to ‘will your site be mobile friendly’ should really be something along the lines ‘duh, of course’ – but in a nice way! 🙂
6. Ask What You Need to Provide
This is really just to be prepared, and set the right expectations on both sides. There’s no right or wrong answer – just what you want, and whether they can provide it.
If you want the design company to provide all the images and write the text content of the site, then you need to ask if they can do that. It will cost more obviously. So if you can provide things like a logo file, and photos of your business premises, products, people etc then it can save you money. It can also produce a better end result.
7. Check If Your Site Will Be Built as a Secure Site
Another test question which can help when selecting a web designer! These days every business website should be a built as a secure (https) site.
It shouldn’t be treated as an optional extra – unless you are building an ecommerce site and/or require a higher grade of secure certificate.
8. Ask About Any Specific or Advanced Requirements
If you have very specific requirements in mind, such as wanting your website designed with WordPress, it’s important to mention this early. Most designers specialise on certain platforms. If you have no specific requirement, then building your site with WordPress is a good popular choice.
If you want advanced features for your site, do ask about them. A contact form is a fairly basic requirement, but if you need an appointments booking system or you want to capture leads to build an email list, ask about them.
You don’t need the answer to fully map out exactly how it will work, but you do want to feel reassured that they can do this for you and that they know enough to do it well! If all you get in response is a ‘yes’ then I’d be very wary and ask for a lot more detail.
In Summary – These Are the Questions to Ask Your Web Designer
- Can I see examples of work you have already done?
- What’s your web design process?
- Can you help with ongoing maintenance of my site after the build is complete?
- What sort of turn around time can I expect?
- Will my site be optimised for mobile devices?
- What will I need to provide?
- Will the site be set up as a secure (https) site?
- Can you help me with ?
Feel free to just ‘copy and paste’ this list into a message to potential designers. I hope it helps you too 🙂