10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

Published February 18, 2021

Whether you already have a website or are looking for someone to get you started, the process of finding the right web designer can be exhausting. Especially when you don’t have a lot of previous knowledge about what to even look out for. We are hoping to help you with that by providing you with this straightforward list of questions, which will help you root out anyone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

A website layout next to some color palettes and a checklist of website features

Before Interviewing Agencies and Designers

There are a few things that can help you prepare your project before bringing anyone in for an interview. The following actions will help you feel more prepared, understand wha your priorities are for this process, and they will help you position yourself for anyone who might want to mislead you.

Determine Your Budget

Make sure how much you want to spend on building your website. It is important to know that the price will not only contain the physical time to “create a button”, but also the creative process, brainstorming and research. Building a website is like an art where every detail matters and adds to its complexity. It is important to have a rough estimate about how much complexity you might need and can afford.

Create Your Wishlist

Think of what you really want to have on your website. Each industry is different and so is each company. Your website is how your clients on the internet will experience your entire business. There might be several features you really need on your site – write them down to give your designer an idea of what they should prepare for when estimating their timeline and work capacity. A wishlist will also help you find the right designer who can grant those important wishes! Take a look at your competitors’ and other industry specific websites and take note what you like and don’t about them.

Plan Out Your Expectations

Research the agencies and designers around your area as well as the bigger companies. Each will have their own perks. A local agency will likely know how to optimize the design so it fits with your local demographic, whereas a national agency might have a bigger team working on your project. Moreover, you want to plan out how much you wish to be involved in the process and beyond. Some of our clients prefer to be in charge of the smaller updates after their new site is up and running, while others prefer to hand it all over. We also strongly recommend you think about what expectations you have for communicating with the design team. Do you want to hear from them every week? Do you prefer a phone call or a video meeting? Finally, Reviews and testimonials can help you determine who to reach out to.

After determining a few places you’re willing to consider, it’s time to schedule a chat. Make sure to write out a list of questions you want answers to. Here are our top 10 recommendations for things to ask to make your end product better and the process more enjoyable.

The 10 Questions You Should Ask From Your Potential Web Designer

1. Do you have any experience in my industry?

Many people think that websites are just a lot of work on visuals. However, you want someone who understands your audience and how your industry works. This is especially important if your website will also have an e-commerce store or need third-party integration for payments or event management. If you need it and the designer you’re interviewing has no experience in it, you might need to clarify further whether they’re the best fit for you.

2. Will you review my current site before building a new one?

This is an important question which will help you root out a lot of bad apples. A good designer might review your current website and discover all it needs is just some tweaks. That is a lot less work and might save you a good sum. Through reviewing your current site, a good designer would also be able to give you good feedback on what is working, what is not, and how they would go about building the new website based on that data and insight.

3. Can you send me your portfolio?

If their work wasn’t already on their website, this question can save you time. You wouldn’t want a designer whose style is completely different from what you’re looking for. A good portfolio that has many up and currently running websites in it will also help you to see whether their work is durable, what can they do, and what the end result could look like.

4. Do I need to provide images/written copy and what else do you need from me before you start?

It might come as a surprise, but plenty of web designers will ask you to provide some material to work with. Many designers don’t feel like they’re good writers. Furthermore, if they are not from your area or can’t travel due to Covid, their options to create the imagery for you might be very limited. Make sure to know what is expected from you and prepare for any additional costs this might mean for you (having a photographer take pictures of your products for example). At Marketing Stable we ask you to help us with the core content to make sure it’s as authentic as possible. We want to rely on your expertise in the field! We have helped our clients with imagery – take a look at sierrastrength.com to get a sense for what we have helped others with.

5. Can you make a website within my budget?

Be clear about your budget and priorities from the start. Plan carefully what you are budgeting for and try to find out about any additional costs sooner rather than later. Returning to this question near the end of the discussion, after you’ve already looked at some of the ideas and needs in the work, can help to assure everything is clear and grant you better sleep afterwards!

6. Will I be able to approve and review things in progress, how many rounds of edits and revisions are included? Will you also offer support and training once the site is launched?

Some designers are strict on how many revisions are included in their quote. Main reason being the time that goes into changing things up. To avoid any negative surprises, make sure to set up clear understanding about prices, payments and payment methods. This includes getting clarity on what happens after your website is live. Are you managing everything once the site is complete or are they? If something stops working or crashes – will they help you?

7. Which Content Management System (CMS) do you use? Are you able to build a custom website or do you use templates? Are they responsive?

Most web designers use platforms like WordPress, WIX and Squarespace to power their creation. You want to know which ones they use and prefer to make sure you’ll be able to learn to manage it once your site is live. We offer you to be as much in charge as you’d like to be. Similarly, if your website is already hooked to one CMS, you might want to find someone who is familiar with what you have or that they can successfully bring it over. Responsiveness means that your website can be accessed from different devices like on a computer vs on a smartphone or tablet.

Most designers also use customizable templates to build up their client’s websites. If you need someone to make a hybrid between a template and custom site or someone to build the code from scratch, make sure the designer you’re interviewing is able to meet your needs.

8. Are your websites built with SEO best practices in mind? Will you also provide us with the analytics?

This is a big one! Chances are you need your website to generate leads, connect with your audience, and to be discoverable by those who don’t know about you yet. Your best bet is to hire someone who understands marketing or has a marketing person on their team. There’s a lot of thought and theory that goes into making sure you reach those people on your radar. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those important practices someone on the design team needs to comprehend. SEO, in a nutshell, is the work that goes into making your website discoverable online and helps it compete against other millions of sites out there.  You also want to know how your site is performing after it is up and running. Ask your potential web team to share what analytics tools they use to track your site’s performance and what kind of information they will be able to provide you with. It might seem like a lot of numbers, but ultimately you’ll find out what your clients think and do once they get to your page.

9. What is your proposed time frame? Will there be any downtime during the transition from the old website to a new one?

Most people starting the process of choosing a web designer feel like they needed their website launch yesterday. If you’re updating, you might need it fast before a big product launch. Determining and agreeing on a timeframe will give you a good grasp of what to plan for, whether that works for you, and will help both parties stay accountable to the progress. If you already have a website it might be crucial to know and prepare for any downtime scheduled during the transition. Be mindful that even though the process is usually quicker, it could take even up to a week for some domains to transfer.

10. Will I own the site and its contents after the website goes live?

The design process might include many different creative processes like domain name and logo creation. You want to make sure you can use them later on, take them to another service provider, and be in charge as much as you need. Our clients usually prefer for us to manage the purchase and maintenance of the domain for them, but we always assure they have the ownership for their site and content.

Bonus Tip for Spotting a Good Candidate

They listen to your ideas, have their own, and educate you on opportunities. 

This is a good sign of what is to come during the time of your cooperation! Find someone who values your input and finds ways to include you in the process. At the same time – you hired an expert for a reason. The result will be even better when they take your ideas and take them above and beyond to improve your business.

Right Before Your Site Goes Live!

You and your designer have been working so hard and you can see the finish line. Don’t neglect the last polishes – check all the grammar, all the links, and how the site and third party features open on other devices. Sounds simple, but it can save you so much headache!

We hope this list helped to ease some of the stress of the process. Websites are such an important part of any brand and it should be enjoyable to build a place that tells your story and connects you to your customers! To learn more about our services and how else might we help you, check out our website services and other services you can combine with it.

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